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 (3:12 PM)
Hang on folks. We're tracking down EJ.
Buzzmaster (3:30 PM)
Hey folks. I just talked to EJ and he's down at the NHL GM meetings in Florida. He'll be back at 4 p.m. ET to chat.
Buzzmaster (4:04 PM)
EJ is here!
Can the Montreal PD really charge Chara with that hit?
EJ Hradek (4:06 PM)
I don't think so. I really don't think so. That's a real stretch to think there will be some kind of police action there. In certain sports in areas where there is a real passion for those sports sometimes we get a little hysterical. You never, never want to see a player injured, but sometimes in contact, violent sports, these things happen. That has invoked that police to take at least preliminary action. I would be shocked if anything happens. It would be really interesting if those teams would meet in the playoffs and the extra security you would need.
Moe Allan (Chicago)
Do u think the Blackhawks r in good shape heading into the playoffs following a 6-3 thrashing of the Sharks last night?
EJ Hradek (4:08 PM)
The bigger picture over the last 12-13 games is they've played really well. For the most part, they've been getting points and wins. The core group has been leading the way. Crawford has played solid. The complementary players have done well. They're really playing some good hockey. This is the time of year you want to play well. If they can stay healthy and if Crawford, any time you have a goaltender who's young and hasn't won is a question mark, can play well, they'll be tough to handle.
Do you see Phoenix taking the division from San Jose? or is that a long shot.
EJ Hradek (4:09 PM)
Well, I certainly don't see anything in the Pacific Division as a long shot. It's pretty tight. I would just say that race there is so tight, I think it's wide open. If San Jose can re-establish the same game they've played the last several weeks, they'll be tough to get ahead of. I would say it's still an open race in that division.
Little Joe (Kokomo)
Toews=MVP? love the combination with kane and sharp. BTW...also love the copycat effect it has had around the league, i.e Tampa
EJ Hradek (4:11 PM)
I can always make a case for Toews for awards and high honors in the NHL. He's been a leader. He scores big goals. He can play in all situations. For me, he has really been the leader and the guy that's helped push them forward. He's given them a great opportunity to make the playoffs. He's absolutely in the running. Around the new year, this was a run away award for Crosby. I'll be really curious to see how the last few weeks unfold. The voting is done on regular season play. There are many candidates.
Johnny Lawrence (Cobra Kai Dojo)
EJ, Sidney Crosby skated in full gear yesterday and then again today. That reminds me......wait, what is that? Daniel LaRusso is gonna fight?? DANIEL LARUSSO IS GONNA FIGHT!!!!
EJ Hradek (4:13 PM)
What a movie! It's good news for me and most hockey fans. We want the best players on the ice playing, whether we want to root for them or against them. It's good that he's made some progress. He's said in coversation that this is a process. There is a ways to go. That can change at any moment. We're just keeping our fingers crossed for Sidney and hopefully at some point he can play for the team in the playoffs.
Coach! Played for you at Pace University with Paul Baio and Brian Way back in the day... Hope you're well.. In your opinion how many more wins do the Rangers need to be assured a playoff spot? And do they make it?
EJ Hradek (4:15 PM)
Hey Vinnie, thanks for the note. I wish we could turn back the clock and get back out there. I'm ready to turn it back about 25 years.....or more! As for the Rangers, I don't know if I have a number for you, but as many as they can get. Some of these teams are hot, like the Devils, but I don't know if they can catch a team, even though they'll probably keep playing well. But for any of those teams fighting there, get as many wins as you can. There's a four-point barrier right now between 8 and 9 in the East.
Robert (Los Angeles)
How serious is this injury to Jonas Hiller? Are the Ducks really considering going for the stretch run with Ellis and Emery
EJ Hradek (4:17 PM)
The Ducks are only considering doing that if they have to. From what I understand, he's made a lot of progress. But he's still not cleared. He's had a vertigo issue. As a goaltender you need to move your head around, so that's an issue. I think every Duck fan and the team would like to go with Hiller down the stretch. Some in the organization think it's sad that they played so badly in front of Hiller before, but now they're playing so well, if they can get him back they'll have both parts working.
With the Bruins slumping where do you think they will end up by the end of the season? and how far do you see them making it in this years playoffs?
EJ Hradek (4:19 PM)
You have a snap shot of how things are going and in the last four games, it hasn't been a joy ride for the Bruins. The last couple of games they've blown leads. Clearly they have to get it turned around. They'd been on a nice run, but have struggled. They have Columbus tonight and the Blue Jackets are holding on to the last breath of playoff hope. It will be a challenge for Boston tonight. They have to find a way to get themselves in the gear tonight. It's hard to say where they end up. If they can turn things around tonight, they can hold on to one of those top three spots.It's definitely a concern.
Jeff (In class "taking notes")
Do you see the Caps continuing their great play even though they've suffered a string of injuries (especially now that both Backstrom and Arnott are out of the line-up)?
EJ Hradek (4:22 PM)
The league is so tight. We've seen teams with losing streaks, winning streaks, teams up and down. They have those 8 wins in a row. But they have two tough challenges coming up. I just saw the Caps play on Friday in Washington against Carolina. I like their compete level. They've really done a good job limiting teams scoring chances. Their scoring is down and they need to get the offense going.
What is the news with Arnott and his injury? Precautionary?
EJ Hradek (4:23 PM)
I talked to George McPhee today and he told me when they acquired Arnott he was banged up at the time. They've been thrilled with the impact he has had. It's something that if they can shut him down for a little while,they can get him totally healthy for the playoffs.
How are the Rangers among the top teams in goal diff, but barely hanging on to a playoff spot? Is that not a good stat for team success? All the other leader are comfortably in.
EJ Hradek (4:26 PM)
Yes, I would say usually it is. One thing with the Rangers that stands out to me, I can think of three of them off the top of my head, where they won by a combined score of 20-0. If you take those out, you're looking at a goal differential of almost even. They're going to be a team that competes hard. Any team that gets them will get their money's worth in the first round.
What did you think about Lemieux's letter?
EJ Hradek (4:29 PM)
Whenever a guy like Mario Lemieux stands up, people are going to listen and have an impact. People will either applaud him or criticize him. It's been a rare exception for him to speak out. It's good that he takes a step back and gives his opinion. His opinion is of great value, not just because he's a former great player, but now a league owner. I think it's great that he's thought about what the league needs to do. On the flip side, he did take a lot of heat from people and was criticized for his comments. This was an opportunity for him to really think about the topic and give his thoughts. For me to hear from Lemieux, that's always a good thing.
Jeff (Los Angeles)
How come nobody really talks about the Kings, cept for you EJ, when it comes to awards or challenging San Jose for the division. What about Quick for Vezina?
EJ Hradek (4:31 PM)
Maybe because I'm a night owl and stay up late to watch the games. The Kings are a good team. They have the elements that you need for success. They have puck moving players. They are good, young on defense. To me, they have the building blocks in place, the question is if they have the other things in place and are ready to push forward. They're playing some great hockey lately and are 10-1-3 in their last 14 road games. It's always about injuries and matchups to me, that's critical. I like the L.A. Kings. Their future is bright. In terms of Quick for the Vezina, there are a lot of good candidates and he's one of them.
EJ Hradek (4:33 PM)
I wish you were all here with me in sunny Florida. I'm here for the GM meetings and the weather is wonderful. If you want to stay in touch with me throughout the week check me out on Twitter: @EJHradek_ESPN.