Chat with EJ Hradek
Welcome to SportsNation! On Friday, 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 Friday at 3 p.m. ET!
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Even Though you Cover the NHL: Who do you think will be the National Champions in College Hockey?
EJ Hradek (3:04 PM)
I did think it would be North Dakota going into the Frozen Four but seeing that they lost last night, that won't be happening. UMD will be playing with sort of a home ice advantage with the games being in St. Paul and I think they have the best line in college hockey. They have some guys that can be playmakers. On the other side, Michigan is a good team. Their goalie, Hunwick is playing really well right not but I'm taking UMD to win it all. It will be a close game that can go either way.
Suburban Rhythm (Pittsburgh)
How does Crosby returning (if he does) change the East? Do the Penguins move ahead of Philly, Boston or Washington as one of the top 3 threats in the East with Sid?
EJ Hradek (3:06 PM)
I think if returns healthy and productive, the Penguins have a good of chance of winning the Stanley Cup as anyone. This is a team that already has good defensemen, a good goalie in Fleury and if Crosby returns to the form that he was in prior to his injury, then Pittsburgh is in good position.
Richard (Greensboro, NC)
Carolina has two games left, one tonight in Atlanta, one tomorrow night in Raleigh. The Rangers host the Devils tomorrow afternoon. Can we get a prediction?
EJ Hradek (3:08 PM)
(Laughing) Well this is what I will predict; Carolina has a game against a non-playoff team in Atlanta just like the Rangers did last night. Carolina has to take care of business tonight and if they do that, they put themselves in a good position on Saturday at home to put themselves into the playoffs. The Rangers have to win against their rival the Devils and I know New Jersey would like nothing more than to send the Rangers home packing. We'll just have to wait and see.
Which made the Hossa "goal" worse: the fact it was kicked in or the fact that it never crossed the line? Think the NHL wants Chicago back in the playoffs much?
EJ Hradek (3:11 PM)
(Laughing) I think that was a real tricky play, there was a kick involved and from video evidence it hard to say the goal went over the line. And since it was called a goal on the ice, they couldn't over turn it due to lack of video evidence.
Matt C (San Jose, CA)
Do you think my beloved Ducks will make it into the playoffs, and if so, can they do anything with Emery in net?
EJ Hradek (3:14 PM)
Yes and yes. Yes I think they will make it in but they do have some work left to do this weekend. I think Emery has played well over the past month but my only concern is over working him if he's not 100%. They will monitor him to make sure everything is good. They have high-end playmakers and their defense is good so they will be a tough out for whoever faces them in the playoffs assuming they make it which I think they will.
Blackhawks, any chance of a return to superior play for the cup this year? Thanks.
EJ Hradek (3:17 PM)
First they have to take care of business this weekend to secure a playoff spot. If they get in, they have a young group of players that are playing well right now. They have high-end players like Toews and Kane that make them a tough out. I think it will be a game-by-game situation from here one out. First to see if they get into the playoffs and next once they make it, how they matchup against their opponent.
What day do the playoffs start?
EJ Hradek (3:17 PM)
April 13th ...so be ready to go!
Jason (Long Island, NY)
All I can say is WOW! NY Rangers continue to amaze. Just when they seem down and out, they beat a very good Bruins team. Thoughts on their chances in the playoffs?
EJ Hradek (3:19 PM)
Right now, they aren't nearly as good as they were on Monday night. The lost a key player in Ryan Callahan and they lost to the Thrashers on Thursday. Destiny is out of their hands and now they have to hope for some help.
The Pens could overtake us for the division. And Philly just recalled Leighton. Is my job in jeopardy?!?!
EJ Hradek (3:21 PM)
Maybe Sergei. I think their head coach showed last year that he was willing to rotate goaltenders so I suspect that he will start with one goaltender and if that goalie doesn't work, he'll switch him out. I know he would love to have one guy emerge but I might end up being a committee approach in Philly.
Which top tier team is most susceptible to an upset??
EJ Hradek (3:23 PM)
I would say it depends on the matchup. A team can play well against one team but bad against another. For example, last year with the 2-seed Devils against the 7-seed Flyers I picked Flyers to win because they matched up better to with the Devils. So once the final matchups are set, I will have a better answer for you.
Best playoff matchup for the Caps? Canes, Rangers or Sabres?
EJ Hradek (3:25 PM)
That's a good question. I guess I would say the Hurricanes because they've played them six times this year and one five of them. So just based on the record I would say Carolina but I don't think any of those teams are a pushover in the playoffs.
EJ Hradek (3:26 PM)
Thanks for the questions. You can always find me on twitter @EJHradek_ESPN. Enjoy the final week of the season and I'll speak to you again next week.