Chat with EJ Hradek
Welcome to SportsNation! On Tuesday, ESPN The Magazine's EJ Hradek will stop by to chat about the NHL season.
Hradek is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine, joining the staff prior to its launch in 1998. He began covering hockey as a writer/editor for Hockey Illustrated in 1989.
Keep up with what Hradek has been up to through his blog on ESPN.com.
Send your questions now and join EJ to chat Tuesday at 3 p.m. ET!
Buzzmaster (3:03 PM)
We've got EJ!
Mr. Hradek, with Jaroslav Halak playing like, dare I say it, Patrick Roy right now, what do you think Carey Price's future is in Montreal, is it even possible to keep them both on board? And also, Go Habs Go!
EJ Hradek (3:12 PM)
That's been the question for a while, before this whole thing started with this crazy playoff run with Halak. Halak's value in Montreal has gone way up. I think it's possible that they sign both guys. It's possible they go into next season with both. I don't think that's ideal. I think Halak is the guy and maybe shop Carey Price. Maybe you shop him to the West, so you don't have to see him. He's still young and could be a very good goaltender. With the way the playoffs have gone, if they've decided that Halak is their guy, they might be better served to get some pieces for Price. They're going to have to do some hard thinking on this.
Spencer (Eugene, OR)
How much of an advantage will the extra rest create for the Sharks?
EJ Hradek (3:14 PM)
Every year at this time when these kind of circumstances come up, there will be the inevitable articles written about rest vs. rust. If San Jose gets off to a fast start in their next series, everyone will say the rest was good. If not, then it will be the rust. Getting some of those guys the extra rest this time of year, it's good. But for the other guys, with just small bumps and bruises, they like the routine of playing often. It would be beneficial for San Jose to watch Chicago and Vancouver to go to seven games.
EJ,Is Philly delaying the inevitable?
EJ Hradek (3:15 PM)
If they delay it for two more games, it won't be inevitable. Philly's had a strange season. Their goaltending is still like a circus. Losing guys, they come back, then get hurt. Philly is going to be home on Wednesday night. They have to be playing pretty confident. Neither of these teams are dominant teams. The games have all been close. We haven't had a team come back from an 0-3 deficit since 35 years ago. The injuries to the Bruins hurt and leaves them vulnerable.
hey EJ who do you think is the tougher opponent for the sharks, chi or van, also can any team in the east beat chi or sj in a best of 7?
EJ Hradek (3:17 PM)
Based on what I saw this season when the teams all played, I would say Chicago would be the tougher opponent. They controlled the play for long stretches against San Jose during the regular season. They have a fast team. They put you on your heels a lot. I just think they'll be more of a handful for San Jose. But the Sharks are playing as well as they have for the entire season. They'll be a handful for whoever the play.
Sal (San Jose, CA)
I think there is still room for you on the bandwagon E.J! you on or not?
EJ Hradek (3:19 PM)
We'll see what happens next and who they play. I was very impressed with their focus and with their ability to come up with big plays. Things are playing out nicely for them right now. Let's see what happens in the third round, but Sharks fans have to be real optimistic.
Mark (New York)
What are your thoughts on Crosby's play this series? He has 1 goal and 4 assists (Ovie had 5 goals and 5 assists against the Habs) and seems to be reverting extremely to his whining and unsportsmanlike conduct. It seems whenever he is on the ice, Crosby is either yapping at the refs or taking a cheap shot at a Hab (like his cheap shots against Subban and Plekanec in the third last night).
EJ Hradek (3:21 PM)
As always, Sidney has been the focal point of the opposition. He competes hard every night and contributes in other areas. The Canadiens have to expend energy on him all over. He has shown some signs of frustration this series. That's really to his detriment, because the just feeds into Montreal's psyche. He'd be better served to keep that frustration under his hat. It's a physical, hard game and he wants to win. It just bubbles over. As for Alex, he did everything he could do. He is a different type of player. I just think that in some cases all of these guys try to do too much sometimes. That's when they get into trouble. We have a Game 7 coming up, so we'll see if Sidney can add Wednesday night.
Am I correct in thinking the Flyers actually caught a break when Boucher got hurt in the sense that Leighton has the potential to be a much better option in games 6 and 7 in net? I think the Bruins are done after the way they looked last night, do you?
EJ Hradek (3:24 PM)
Leighton hasn't played in close to two months. I don't know if you can say that a guy that hasn't played at all is a better option. Boucher has played well. The Flyers are just lucky that Leighton was healthy enough to get into the mix. I wouldn't say that the Bruins are dead. They only have to win one of the next two. The Bruins have to refocus their energies. Play a more focused game. When you get up in a series like that, it doesn't take much to creat problems. This is not the Bruins of the early 70s. They have to claw and fight for whatever they can get. They'll have to be in a more desperate mood in Game 6.
EJ Hradek (3:24 PM)
I'm eager to see what happens in Game 6 in Philadelphia.
EJ, If Montreal gets lucky enough to knock of the defending cup champs, where does that leave the legacy of the Pens and for that matter the legacy of Crosby?
EJ Hradek (3:26 PM)
This is a young group that's already won a Cup, been to the Finals two years in a row. This legacy might be that they just run into a special group and have played some good hockey the last couple of years. Someone told me that if Pittsburgh got back to the Finals and won another Cup this year, it would be so special and they should get two Cups. Certainly, the Penguins if they were to lose Game 7, it would be a setback for their group. The team would be disappointed. They're just writing the first chapters of their legacy. Crosby's just a kid. He's going to be 23 in August.
Thoughts on the Phoenix situation? I for one hope they return to Winnipeg where they belong.
EJ Hradek (3:29 PM)
It has been a roller coaster for the last 14-15 months, since the bankruptcy issue began. It appears to me that there are a lot of things standing in the way for that franchise being able to stay in Phoenix. There's a meeting tonight of the council in Glendale. I guess we should have a little more knowledge of the circumstances then. I don't see, in any circumstance, the league funding this franchise next year. I think in the next several weeks, the team will be situated to stay in Phoenix or moved to another team. This issue will close soon, because the league is not ready to take on the team for another year.
I know it is a little premature, but if the Blackhawks win the West, Hossa will have played in 3 straight Stanley Cups with 3 different teams. Really curious if that has ever happened in any of the major sports before
EJ Hradek (3:32 PM)
I would have to look that up. If he were to lose again, he would be in three different Cup finals that all lost. That would be a unique situation. I do feel sympathy for him. When he left Pittsburgh, he went to Detroit on a short deal to win. Now he could be in a situation where he got to the Finals three straight years and lost. He could be called, by the fans, a jinx. But he's a great player. I do wish him well. We'll see what happens this year.
Otis (Rome (Chicago))
Can the Chicago Blackhawks repeat their game 3 and 4 performances, or will Roberto Luongo stand strong again and lead the Canucks back to Chicago for a game 7?
EJ Hradek (3:34 PM)
Otis, my man! Watching Game 5, it really is simple to me for the series. I think Chicago likes to play a real uptempo game. They really thrive on that. They get energy from that fast paced, chirpy, trash talking, skirmishes after the whistle. Vancouver wants to slow it down, turn the other cheek, not take dumb penalties. When you're successful in doing that against Chicago, it saps energy from their game. We'll see if Vancouver can do that, calmer demeanor, and if they can, they'll have a better chance at winning. The Hawks want to bring that passion, because I think they play better when they have it.
EJ Hradek (3:35 PM)
Great doing the chat again. We've got Game 7 tomorrow night. We could have a couple of more Game 7s. I look forward to chatting next week about the conference finals!