Chat with EJ Hradek
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, 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 Monday at 3 p.m. ET!
Buzzmaster (3:01 PM)
We've got EJ!
EJ Hradek (3:06 PM)
A little shoutout to the Yale Bulldogs. I was up there on Sunday to call their game against Union with Barry Melrose on ESPNU. It's the first time in their program that they've been ranked No. 1. Congrats.
do you see letang as a longterm d man for the pens
EJ Hradek (3:08 PM)
Yeah. Why not? He's already helped them win a Stanley Cup. He's been a part of two trips to the finals. As the game is now, a puck moving defenseman is valuable. And it's obvious fans appreciate him too as he's the No. 1 vote getting defensemen in the all-star ballotting.
Is Crawford close to overtaking Turco as Chicago's number 1 goalie? Just wondering because I just picked him up for my fantasy roster. Go Flyers!
EJ Hradek (3:09 PM)
I don't know if close is the right word, but he's been playing well. That's one thing about Chicago, they're going to play the guy that gives them the best chance to win. They did that last year when Niemi took the job from Huet. If Crawford plays well, he's going to take time from Turco.
How much longer until we hear Logan Couture's name in the same breath as Bobby Ryan and Anze Kopitar and John Tavares? That kid can play and score.
EJ Hradek (3:10 PM)
This is his rookie season, after playing the maximum games you can play without losing your rookie status. If you've been reading my blog, when I rank rookies, you'll see that I have him right there for the top rookie trophy. He leads rookies in shots, face off percentage, game winning goals. A lot of important categories. He's been an important player for San Jose. I don't know about comparing him to other guys, but he's been playing well.
Are the Kings finally back on track? Defense is looking strong, but still need to score more
EJ Hradek (3:12 PM)
With the Kings, they probably weren't as great as they looked in the first 10 games of the season. And they certainly aren't as bad as they looked when they lost 6 of 7. They got back home and won some games they had to. I like the Kings. I think they're just a really good competitive team. They need some more scoring depth and to have their young guys gain some experience. Good team.
Tyler Seguin (Boston, MA)
Do you see any All Star games in my future?
EJ Hradek (3:13 PM)
Yes, Tyler, I see a lot of all-star games in your future. I think your future is very very bright. The future of the Bruins is very bright with a number of young players they already have. They'll probably get another good young player in the draft after acquiring Toronto's first pick.
Jason (Long Island, NY)
Rangers sweep the Isles then come out lackluster against the Senators. What gives with this team? Definitely would like some consistency at some point!
EJ Hradek (3:15 PM)
The Rangers are probably a middle of the pack team and when you play an 82 game schedule, you're going to have some ups and downs. Ideally you'd like your team to play the same every night, however these guys aren't robots. How much separation is there between the Senators and Rangers right now? I don't think that gap is that big. For the Rangers and a lot of teams in that circumstance, I look at it like you just put your head down and get back on track. You need to accumulate as many points as you can every night and not think about past performances.
The Bs just sent down Jordan Caron to Providence, does this mean Sturm could be in the lineup in the future?
EJ Hradek (3:17 PM)
I'm not sure. I know Sturm is with the team now. I don't get the sense that he's physically ready yet, but I could be wrong because these things are day to day. He's coming back from knee surgery so I'm sure the team wants to make sure he's ready to go. We're going to have to wait and watch with him.
Thrashers are actually quite good. Can they keep it up?
EJ Hradek (3:18 PM)
I think so. The Thrashers have a lot of players. They have a lot of guys who are pretty good NHL players. They have good defensemen by NHL standards. They have a good goalie who's playing well. And I'm a big fan of their coach. He's been a big plus for them. I think they challenge for a playoff spot.
Will the Bruins and Kings end up hashing out a deal for Sturm after all, or was there more to the story when it fell apart the first time?
EJ Hradek (3:20 PM)
I don't know all the particulars, but I just get the sense that the Kings weren't comfortable with Sturm's medical situation last week. I don't know if he failed a physical or they weren't convinced that he could come in and play. I think that had a lot to do with it. It seems like he would be a fit for what L.A. is doing. It is an unusual circumstance as to what's taken place.
Ian (New York City)
What do you think the Flyers will do with Leighton/Boucher? Is there a trade market for either?
EJ Hradek (3:22 PM)
I don't know. I don't think they will. Nashville lost their starter for a month and they don't really have a backup there. It will be interesting for the Flyers. I am sure they will do whatever they can to juggle it right now. I don't think there is a big market for Leighton or Boucher, only if there is a significant injury situation in the league.
Shawn (Motor D)
Who will be between the pipes come playoff time in Beantown...Thomas or Rask??
EJ Hradek (3:23 PM)
If Tim Thomas plays anywhere near where he's playing right now, he's the guy. That's no knock on Rask. Thomas has been as good in the first few months of the season as I can remember. Five shutouts in 18 games. Right now he's their guy.
EJ Hradek (3:24 PM)
And it's not like Boston isn't allowing shots. They're allowing nearly 33 shots per game, which is near the bottom. So, it's not like Thomas is sitting there and not doing anything. He's in some traffic.
Will referees ever talk to each other when they make calls? Or can a referee overrule the penalty if he clearly saw the play in question? The bogus late-third period call on Skrastins last night really cost the Stars a point.
EJ Hradek (3:26 PM)
That's an interesting idea. I don't hear it being discussed, so I don't think it is something that will happen in the near future. It's always disappointing when calls are made that have an impact. I will say this about Dallas, their penalty killing has been horrible this year. That was a circumstance late in the game where they really needed to kill a penalty. Not to avoid your question, but that's an area that Dallas needs to get better in in a hurry.
Most likely to sucseed in the playoffs? washington philly or pittsburgh?
EJ Hradek (3:28 PM)
That is a good question. In the playoffs....Pittsburgh. At the beginning of the year, I thought it would be them. As of right now, I'm looking better than I did 6 weeks ago. They're strong up the middle. They have a good group of defensemen and they have the best leader on their team in Crosby. I think they have a slight edge over Philadelphia. And Washington hasn't shown they've figured it out yet. We can only base these decisions on what we've seen and in the past.
EJ Hradek (3:29 PM)
Thanks again for the questions! If you have a chance, tune in again on Sunday at 4 p.m. ET on ESPNU for Vermont at Dartmouth with me and Barry Melrose.