Chat with EJ Hradek
Welcome to SportsNation! On Tuesday, ESPN The Magazine's EJ Hradek will stop by to chat about the NHL playoffs.
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 (3:01 PM)
We've got EJ!
Do you think the Pens can finish it in 5?
EJ Hradek (3:02 PM)
No. I think the series is too competitive for that. It's 2-1. Tampa is on home ice. I suspect this will be a 6-7 series.
EJ Hradek (3:02 PM)
And I think Pittsburgh will be negatively impacted with a suspension in the next few hours. That will impact their lineup.
What do you think of the PA anouncer reminding the Montreal fans that they have Americans on their team so they won't boo the National Anthem of the US? That's just pitiful that they have to be reminded about that.
EJ Hradek (3:04 PM)
I think they were trying to be pro-active and fans do silly things at games. I don't read too much into it, because fans are fans. You would like to think in a perfect world and fans would be on their best behavior, but we don't live in that world. So, I think the Montreal organization was trying to be proactive about that. They were being thoughtful and trying to put people on alert.
EJ Hradek (3:04 PM)
If you want to know what's going on on other planets you have to go to Melrose.
Who is the MVP of the playoffs so far?
EJ Hradek (3:05 PM)
Datsyuk of the Red Wings.
EJ Hradek (3:05 PM)
He's producing offensively, which is good, but he's playing terrific hockey from one end of the rink to the next.
Which team stands a better chance at winning more games, the 'Yotes or 'Hawks?
EJ Hradek (3:06 PM)
Oh boy. I think they both could get swept. I would say the Hawks. They're at home. Let's give them a chance to win a game. Phoenix, their goalie is playing poorly. I think both teams are headed to a golf course near them.
Do you sense the Rangers will generate any extra motivation from what Boudreau said about their house?
EJ Hradek (3:08 PM)
If a professional athlete has to draw more juice from a statement a coach makes about an arena, that person probably would not be a professional athlete. That person would be a fan. The Rangers are going to be focused on the task at hand. The fans at the game who read those comments will be determined to say bad things about Bruce Boudreau. From that stand point there might be a little more noise in the stadium.
Chris (San Diego)
are the sharks in trouble?
EJ Hradek (3:09 PM)
I'll tell you what. The Sharks are in trouble to me, because I didn't like their effort. I thought it stunk. I'll be watching to see what their effort is like in the next game. In case they missed their call, the Stanley Cup playoffs started last week. I think they respond tonight. I will say the Kings are dug in and they'll be a hard team to deal with.
I thought Roloson was a bit timid and maybe intimidated by the likes of the Pens great scorers, Rupp and Michalek.
EJ Hradek (3:10 PM)
I don't think Roloson at 40 or 41 is intimidated by too much that goes on in front of him on the ice. He's facing a Pittsburgh team that lost two of its best players. He lost a one-goal game. I'm sure he'll be more critical of his performance than anyone else. He knows he has to be better in the next game.
How does Kunitz get a one game suspension, but Raffi Torres gets nothing? Torres is also a repeat offender.
EJ Hradek (3:12 PM)
Every one of these plays is different. Every single one. The league, in talking about the Torres hit, felt that it fell into the category of a legal hit. I disagreed, but that's what they said. In terms of Kunitz, I think he added another definition of Rule 48 which was recently added to the books this season about blind side hits to the head. He stuck out his elbow and hit Gagne in the head with no real purpose. It was clear to me that he stepped over the line.
Red Wings. It looks to me like they are playing better then the Canucks. Also a WCF matchup would be insane right?
EJ Hradek (3:13 PM)
I don't know if it would be insane, but it would be really good. It would be potentially a really good series. We have a long way to go and some teams that want to trip up that eventuality. Both teams are looking to advance through the first round quickly. If we get to that, that would be one heckuva series.
Richard (San Jose)
Surprised by Hawk's 0-3 hole? Should I expect any Hawks win?
EJ Hradek (3:15 PM)
I guess I'm a little surprised. I expected Vancouver to win the series. I didn't think it would be a sweep, but they're in position to do that tonight. Chicago will have to do better in some areas to win. Vancouver has had a great season. They seem to be very focused on the plan right now. Chicago has to slow down the Sedins. They have a combined 9 points in three games.
Buffalo doesn't look like the team ending the season strong. Time to worry?
EJ Hradek (3:16 PM)
They're playing a really good team in the Flyers. It's 2-1. I thought Boucher was the difference maker in Game 3. Buffalo gave up a couple of goals and they couldn't crack Boucher. They just have to keep playing the way they have. They're playing a really good Flyers team that's the No. 2 seed.
How can the Rangers generate more offense and get their series even?
EJ Hradek (3:18 PM)
They've been a scoring by committee team all year. They're going to hope to get goals from a variety of sources. They have different guys that can step up at different times. You want to have a plan of how you attack Washington. Have guys driving to the net, looking for rebounds, screen the goalie. That's the approach they take. Get the puck in the Washington zone. It's a simple approach, but that's been their approach all year. Gaborik has been dinged up all year, but if he can get some opportunities, he only needs one shot to score. If he gets going, that makes them even more dangerous.
Claude Julien (Boston)
Why haven't I put Seguin in the lineup yet? Should I give Thomas a break in game 4 and put Tuukka in net?
EJ Hradek (3:19 PM)
No. You're down 2-1, but you just got some momentum in Game 3 with a win. Thomas is a veteran. I thought he gave up two stinkers last night, but he did respond with big saves when he needed them. Now is not the time to fool with the goaltending.
If the Coyotes lose Game 4, is it their last one in Phoenix?
EJ Hradek (3:21 PM)
It could be. It really could be. The circumstance there has been on going. There is a chance the deal there won't be locked out. If that's the case, they could be off to Winnipeg, as the story has been, or somewhere else. But we'll see. This story, I've been following it the last couple of years and it's been like a snake, every time you think it's dead and you try to grab it, it twists and turns and comes at you from another angle.
Jason (Jersey Shore)
I know this is a broken record, but if Pronger doesn't come back, are we talking about how the Flyers goaltending let them down once again in the playoffs?
EJ Hradek (3:22 PM)
I don't know. I think it's a little early to make that statement. In the last two games, Boucher has played really well. I thought he was excellent in the last win. They're planning on having Pronger come back. You have to take these things game to game. So far, through three games, they're up 2-1 and they're up, I think, because Boucher has played so well.
Has JVR's emergence been a surprise to you or is this the JVR everyone touted?
EJ Hradek (3:24 PM)
He was the second overall pick in the draft in 2007, the same year Patrick Kane went first. When you get selected that high, obviously everyone thinks you're a good player. Young guys develop at their own pace. He's come along, had a couple of years in college, now a couple of years in the NHL. He has size. He has skill. He skates well. Everything is there to be a good player in the league.
Dan Matowski (Brazil)
Your opinion on the status of Sidney Crosby? Mike Comrie back in the lineup after Kunitz' suspension?
EJ Hradek (3:25 PM)
I think it's status quo with Crosby. I don't see him coming back in this series and I have no indication that he's coming back any time soon. I don't think there hasn't been any set backs, but he and the organization are being cautious. There was a study that came out saying that 1 in 5 NHL players that come back are still concussed. Might he come back and play if they advance? That's possible. It doesn't seem like they'll rush him back in any way if they advance.
Ryan (Northridge CA)
Should the Coyotes relocate back to Winnipeg, do you see a re-alignment in the divisions in the West? Tough to see the Pacific Division with two teams outside the Pacific Time Zone.
EJ Hradek (3:26 PM)
It's possible. But I don't know that for sure. That's the only answer I can give you right now. I would say it's a possibility.
Pekka Rinne (Nashville)
Can we pull off the upset over the Ducks?
EJ Hradek (3:28 PM)
It's a 4-5 matchup. The difference between the two teams was small. Nashville won three of the four games in the regular season, so it wouldn't be that much of a surprise if they won. Anaheim understands the circumstances, they need to even up the series. I suspect that will be a very hard fought game.
What do you think about the NHL's 10 year deal with Versus and NBC? Why on earth does Bettman think that's good for the game? ESPN is where the NHL needed to be.
EJ Hradek (3:29 PM)
It's a big deal. For the NHL it's the most lucrative media deal they've ever done. For those of us at ESPN, it's certainly disappointing. Only time will tell if it's the right deal for the league. But certainly from a dollar stand point, it was the biggest deal they've ever done.
EJ Hradek (3:30 PM)
Thanks again for the questions. Follow me on Twitter: @EJHradek_ESPN.