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 (3:06 PM)
EJ will be here in five minutes!
Chris (Morgantown, WV)
With the absence of Malkin for the rest of the season (more than likely), what do you think the chances are of the Penguins going for Brad Richards? And if low, what other names would you suggest?
EJ Hradek (3:15 PM)
I would say this: I think they'll make the phone call and find out what Dallas' plan is with Richards. But my sense that since the early part of the season that it is important to Dallas, with the club being sold, to make the playoffs. I've gotten the sense all year that if they're in the mix of things, they're not going to trade him. I think they'll make a lot of phone calls and that will be one of them. They'll try to upgrade the group. Crosby might still come back from the concussion problems and they can make a playoff run. But at the end of the day when you lose a Malkin and Crosby is hurt, you're in deep water.
Rich (Blackhawks Nation)
Um, can we officially hit the panic button now?
EJ Hradek (3:17 PM)
I think so. I think after that loss last night, it's going to be a tough battle for Chicago. They put themselves in a position through a tough early schedule and roster changes. Calgary is playing well, Minnesota is playing well. They'll have to be all in from here on out just to make the playoffs. With their goaltending, with a young goalie and struggling veteran, I don't know if they'll make it. The playoffs start now for Chicago.
Eagen, minnesota [via mobile]
hi jeremy here,do you think the devils can get back on track?
EJ Hradek (3:18 PM)
They're on track. They're 9-1-2, I think, in their last 12 games, but they're so far back that it's near impossible for them to make the playoffs. The good news for them is that they're in the East. I do think they'll catch the Islanders, Ottawa, Toronto. It will be real difficult for them to make it.
Is this surge of the Flames for real? Will they be able to hold on to a spot in the West? Am I the only Flames fan in Indiana?
EJ Hradek (3:21 PM)
I have no idea if you're the only Flames fan in Indiana. I don't know if they're for real, but they're playing some good hockey right now. They're playing some good games, winning tough games. They have a pretty good group of defensemen there, when they're playing well. They have a good goalie, which is always something of huge value. As far as the scoring goes, they're weak up the middle, but they're finding ways to win. They're in the mix and they've played their way into the mix. We'll see if they continue to do so.
Can Alex Ovechkin adjust his game to combat the changes that defences have been using against him lately?
EJ Hradek (3:22 PM)
The short answer is he better. If you don't adjust in this league, you're not going to have the 60-goal success that he's used to. But it seems like he's picked up his game a little bit. They've been making adjustments to the power player. In any sport, it's about changing against the other team. I would think he's going to be able to figure it out.
EJ, The Sports Business Journal recently reported that an average of 3,000 and 6,000 households tune in to watch Florida and Atlanta games, respectively. Do you think Bettman and Daly assign too much importance to large media markets? Is it time to pull up the anchor in these markets? -Joe
EJ Hradek (3:25 PM)
You get those kinds of numbers and it's not impressive, no question. But in both of those cases, it's tough. Neither of those teams haven't been managed well. Florida had some success in the 90s when they were managed well, but we're talking about almost 15 years since then. They haven't been in the playoffs since 2000. Same thing with Atlanta. It's different than in places like Carolina. They've had some Cup runs. That's what draws people in these non-traditional markets. I'm not ready to give up just yet. I'm not ready to say that it's not going to work. You need to build some rinks there. You need some grassroots efforts. In the big picture, going forward, I think there is still a lot of opportunity there.
EJ, how serious do you think Mike Green's injury is? If it is a concussion do the Caps look to add another Dman before the deadline?
EJ Hradek (3:26 PM)
Good question. I don't know. I could sit here and try to tell you that I know exactly what's going on. He was hit in the head with a puck Sunday. He didn't return and won't likely play tonight. I think all teams are being careful with head injuries these days. It's a wait and see. You just never, never know with head injuries.
With the loss of Savard, do the Bruins make a move and do you think they have a deep playoff run in them?
EJ Hradek (3:27 PM)
I think it's possible. The East is wide open. Philadelphia is a monster and could just roll through it. Last year, we thought Pittsburgh and Washington were the monsters and we see what happened. But Boston has a big weapon in Tim Thomas. He's having a year for the ages. Their group of defensemen is a good one with Chara. They have some forwards that can make up for the loss of Savard. I'm sure they'll look to make a move to add someone to the group.
Do you have any thoughts about the lack of discipline for Matt Cooke's hit on Ovechkin? Darren Dreger of TSN seemed to imply that because Ovi's a prior offender he's not entitled to any justice. Really? This is how Colin Campbell works?
EJ Hradek (3:29 PM)
He took a straight line on Ovechkin. It's Matt Cooke, so he's going to get extra scrutiny. I haven't liked what he's done over time. Am I surprised that there's no discipline? No. Those plays are always dangerous, for both parties.
Ken Holland (Detroit)
Did I mess up by not taking a shot on Ray Emery? I need a back-up goalie and quick!!
EJ Hradek (3:30 PM)
Ray Emery's not ready to play. With Nabokov, they probably had a feeling that he's in a better place to come in and play right away. But I will say that the Red Wings do need to add a veteran goaltender that can be of some help.
Andy (Newport Beach)
EJ, do you see the Ducks making any moves at the deadline? With Getzlaf coming back are they not in a great position to make the playoffs? If you had to pick today, who would be in, Kings or Ducks?
EJ Hradek (3:30 PM)
I think they are in a good spot. Anything they do will be a depth type of move. Maybe a veteran defenseman. It will be dependent on their cap and how much money they have available to them.
What are your thoughts on the Blue Jackets? Still have a shot at the postseason?
EJ Hradek (3:31 PM)
Real tough. Just a real tough circumstance they're in in the West. It will take a real major effort for them. They need great goaltending. They'll have to play over their heads in the last couple of months. If they were in the East, it would be a lot easier for them.
Will San Jose continue floundering in the playoffs or actually do something in the playoffs this year?
EJ Hradek (3:33 PM)
they have to make it first, and they've been Tlaying well lately. Maybe the adversity in the regular season will help them in the playoffs. Injuries will be important. They can't afford any key injuries. I think they're a puck mover or two away on defense. If they make it, it will depend on who they play. I could see them winning a round, but I don't see they going further than that.
Thomas or Luongo for Vezina this season?
EJ Hradek (3:33 PM)
No doubt, 100% positive Thomas. Runner-up, Jonas Hiller, Anaheim.
Noah (Easton, MD)
Rule 48 is protective of upper-body hits and (is trying to) prevent or limit concussions, why aren't we seeing more protection on knee-to-knee hits? And shouldn't Matt Cooke be suspended an equal amount of time that Ovechkin served?
EJ Hradek (3:34 PM)
They're dangerous, no question. The league is always concerned about those plays. When you have concussions like that, not only can it hinder your career, but it can have an impact in your life. They're concerned about all reckless plays, but the focus right now is on head injuries more than anything else.
Andrew (Ireland) [via mobile]
Yo EJ, whats your take on canucks defense problem. Do they go with salo or keep buried in the AHL and bring a top 4 d man to replace edler?
EJ Hradek (3:36 PM)
I don't think they have defensive problems. They're pretty deep. They hope to get Edler back for the playoffs. Salo is coming back. If they have any room under the cap, they might add another defenseman. But the injury to Edler and putting him on the long injured list, allows them the luxury to keep all of their defenseman. They're certainly in the place to do a lot better than other teams.
Any hope left for the AVS? Forsberg can't play D too.
EJ Hradek (3:37 PM)
There is always hope, but they have to turn it around quickly. you can't have these 4, 5, 6 win streaks. I don't think the addition of Forsberg will help them at this point. There is always hope, but hope starts with one win streak and not lose contact with the pack.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
What is the Worst NHL Team So Far This Season?
EJ Hradek (3:38 PM)
I don't know. I didn't think the Devils would be terrific this year. They didn't start so well, but they've played better. The Kings had that great start, but have fallen lately, so they're a disappointment. It's a moving target with the teams right now.
Buzzmaster (3:38 PM)
Thanks for chatting EJ!