Chat with Katie Strang
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, hockey writer Katie Strang stops by to chat about the latest news from around ice.
In addition to covering the NHL as a whole, Strang, who previously covered the Islanders for Newsday, also covers the Rangers, Isles and Devils for ESPNNewYork.com. She is a graduate of Michigan State University and Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.
Send your questions now and join Strang Monday at 3 p.m. ET!
Katie Strang (3:00 PM)
Hey all! Second to last week of the regular season with playoffs just around the corner. Let's get cracking on all your post-season puck questions.Fire away!
Will (Brooklyn, NY)
Hey Katie, What would your ideal first round matchups be in the East?
Katie Strang (3:02 PM)
Ok, these are my IDEAL match-ups, albeit though some are not realistic:Leafs-Habs (this really may happen)Isles-Rangers (this really won't)Washington-Pittsburgh (Sid vs. Ovie)Boston-Ottawa
I joined about a dozen Ranger fans at a local bar to watch Saturday's game, and it did not disappoint. Are you expecting both the Rangers and Islanders to finish in the top 8?
Katie Strang (3:04 PM)
Yes, I do. And I think that's a great thing for NY hockey and for the rivalry. Saturday was the first really meaningful game between Isles and Rangers that I've ver covered and it was a treat. Can't remember the last game that was scoreless after regulation that was that intense or exciting. Think either team could pull off an upset in the first round but don't see either advancing to the ECF
Mike H (Maryland)
Is it 1986 again? Pierre LeBrun used the term Danger Zone a couple times in his power rankings this week. I thought for a second I was listening to the Top Gun soundtrack.
Katie Strang (3:05 PM)
Pierre just celebrated his b-day last week (notice my restraint in omitting which one). Let's not blame him for being a bit nostalgic
With Alex Ovechkin as a contender for both the Art Ross and Maurice Richard trophies this year, should he be getting more Hart buzz? Could he possibly be denied the Hart even if he were able to capture both this season? (League's leading goal scorer, point producer, and captain of a playoff team sounds pretty compelling to me)
Katie Strang (3:06 PM)
He will definitely be in the conversation and should be among the top candidates in my mind. The more games Crosby misses, the better his chances. Other candidates: Kane, Toews, Tavares, even Bobrovsky if they make it
What. Is the best goal you have ever seem live? Me? Hands down, 09 ECF game 2, Geno Malkin around the net backhand roof for the hat trick. Was sitting right on line with that shot. The Igloo went nuts!
Katie Strang (3:08 PM)
In terms of pure skill, I've seen a number of beauties from John Tavares. One of my favorites though was actually one from Rob Schremp, against the Avs in Colorado I believe. Ridiculous hand-ee coordination to bat the puck out of mid-air and swat it into the net. Highly-skilled guy with a fun, entertaining personality.
Do you think it might be tough for the Pens to get everybody back healthy and on the same page in such a short amount of time?
Katie Strang (3:10 PM)
Not sure they will ever have their entire lineup going at the same time, but as they've shown, they don't need that to win. I believe Crosby will be back by the playoffs and both Malkin and Neal are day-to-day. Martin will take a bit longer but this is still a dangerous squad when they are not at full strength
Do you see either JT miller or Chris Kreider getting called up before the playoffs? And when Dorsett is healthy, who will sit for him? And lastly but most importanly, are you available??
Katie Strang (3:12 PM)
To answer your questions: 1) Yes, but may take an injury to prompt a recall 2) By the first week of the playoffs; Pyatt or Powe and 3) No :)
Hi Katie, just was wondering what who your pick to make it out of the west would be for the Finals? And how far you see the Kings going? Thanks!
Katie Strang (3:13 PM)
Really hard to pick against the Blackhawks even though it's my nature to pull for an underdog. Impressive how well they have been doing without much to really play for.
Do you think Lundqvist gets nominated for vezina this year?
Katie Strang (3:13 PM)
He will definitely be a candidate, I think. Especially the way he is playing right now
Seems safe to say the Devils season is pretty much toast (crossing fingers for high draft pick now), so looking forward, do you see them using their compliance buy-out(s) this off season and on who? My vote would go to Tallinder and Volchenkov. Neither of whom are terrible, but they are paid too much and are a step to slow.
Katie Strang (3:15 PM)
Winless in nine games, they are pretty much cooked even if Kovalchuk returns soon. While I agree with your assessment on both players, not sure I see them using the buyouts as they don't need the cap space.
Garrett (Long Island)
Hi Katie! In order, who makes up the 5th through 8th seed in the Eastern Conference?
Katie Strang (3:16 PM)
5th- Leafs6th- Islanders7th- Rangers8th - Senators
Jim (Grand Rapids, Mi)
When the dust settles, do you think the Wings will be in or out?
Katie Strang (3:19 PM)
Someone from my home town! Love it :)Yes, I do think they will hold on by the skin of their teeth but they end the regular season with a tough stretch -- four games in six nights. Will be difficult
Thanks for your continuing hockey coverage all season.1 quick questionOut of Nino Niederreiter, Brock Nelson, Ryan Strome and Matt Donovan, who will be on the Islanders roster on opening night of the 2013-14 season.Thanks SpartanAlan
Katie Strang (3:20 PM)
Honestly, all four could be there. I think at least three will. Lot of good young talent coming up through the organization. Isles fans should be excited
James (Uniondale, NY)
Who do the Rangers have a better chance of beating in the first round of the playoffs, Pittsburgh or Montreal?
Katie Strang (3:22 PM)
Montreal gives NYR trouble with their speed and transition game and Blueshirts have had an awful time playing at Bell Centre. But still think this is a more likely upset than the Pens, who are just so deep.
Sam (Dallas, TX)
Do the Stars have a legitimate shot at making the playoffs with their remaining schedule?
Katie Strang (3:24 PM)
Yes, but I think they will ultimately finish outside the top 8. Losing Lehtonen for any amount of time is a tough blow to the Stars, even if they have been tremendous since unloading all those UFAS in Morrow, Roy, Jagr, etc Tough schedule to close out the season as well
Marek Malik (Czech Republic)
Possibility Marc Staal plays before the end of the season?
Katie Strang (3:25 PM)
Possible, yes. The fact that he's skating on his own is an encouraging sign. Had another doctor's appointment today -- routine follow-up_- so that should shed some light soon on how close he is to returning
Mark (New York )
What would it take for the Rangers to not buy out Richards??
Katie Strang (3:27 PM)
I think it will certainly be discussed. Especially considering the dramatic reduction of the cap next year and some important players they need to get under contract over the next two seasons. If I'm Sather, I hold off. I'm not denying Richards' struggles this year, but he still has an elite skill set and is a strong leader. I want to see what he can do with a full training camp under his belt
RicanRangerFan (Vista, California)
Based on Dorsett skating today how long will it take for us to see him play a game in the 7 that will be left?
Katie Strang (3:28 PM)
Hey RRF- Don't see DD playing until playoffs, though I have heard he will be a fan favorite immediately. Tough as nails. Will fight anyone
Ice Ace (Alabama)
If you were the GM of the Flyers, what would be your first move(ie - address goaltending)?
Katie Strang (3:29 PM)
Buy out Bryzgalov. That is an expensive mistake to admit, but his shenanigans are becoming too much. He's not good enough to warrant the distractions he creates
danny skahan (lynn ma)
when the brunis playing Carl Soderberg
Katie Strang (3:30 PM)
He is supposed to join the team on Wednesday
DAVE (columbus, ohio)
who get the final spot in the west columbus, detroit or dallas?
Katie Strang (3:31 PM)
Would really like to see Columbus defy the odds since that would make for an amazing story, but think it will be Detroit
do you think we've seen the last of DP in an Isles jersey?
Katie Strang (3:33 PM)
Yes, I do. Think it is best for both sides to sever ties and go separate ways. That gives Isles chance to stop handcuffing themselves to his albatross of a contract and DiPietro the chance to seek backup work or something somewhere else
Hi Katie, do you play Fantasy Hockey at ESPN.com? Who was your sleeper goalie that played well?
Katie Strang (3:34 PM)
I don't but it's all Burnside, LeBrun and Custance talk about. There has to be one among us to keep the peace
Justin (Chicago )
What's going on with Patrick Sharp? He played 2 games after being out for more than a dozen and now he's sitting out again?
Katie Strang (3:36 PM)
Justin- Quenneville did not say confirm this, but my guess would be that he re-aggravated the shoulder injury. He's day-to-day right now, though, so hopefully for the 'Hawks he's not out for another long spell
Did the Oilers really just recycle their management team and call it 'change'?
Katie Strang (3:38 PM)
Pretty much. Can't say I'd be thrilled if I was an Oil fan. All this talk about change for the future is a tough sell when you keep turning to people from the past. MacTavish said he wants to be bold, though, so at least we could be in for a fun ride.
Can you use the buy-out next summer as well? If not, then I think the NYR have to take advantage of it and buy-out Richards now. He is declining fast.
Katie Strang (3:39 PM)
Yes, the two buyouts allotted with the new CBA can be used either this summer or next
Columbus seems to be ready for the Post season. What do they need to do in the off-season to try and go deep into the playoffs and become a cup contender?
Katie Strang (3:41 PM)
Blue Jacckets have been a really good story this season, so they need to stick with what's working. John Davidson and Jarmo Kekalainen really seem to be bringing a culture change over there and that's a really good building block for the team moving forward. Wouldn't be surprised to see them re-sign Marian Gaborik
Whose the most respected player in the league now that Lidstrom retired?
Katie Strang (3:42 PM)
Tough since that's pretty much the hands-down favorite. Iginla is obviously one of the most respected guys in the game. Think Alfredsson ranks up there, too. Always hear players rave about Datsyuk and Zetterberg as well
Hey Katie do you think the Isles will make the playoffs and also do you think the move to Brooklyn will allow them to bring in better players and continue their upward trend?
Katie Strang (3:44 PM)
I do. Winning cures all. Making the playoffs would be a huge step in terms of restoring credibility to the franchise. A shiny, new venue in a desirable place to live won't hurt either. Critical time for the organization, these next few years.
How much better could the blackhawks be if they still had niemi?
Katie Strang (3:45 PM)
Granted Niemi has been terrific for the Sharks, but aren't you getting a bit spoiled, Josh. Crawford and Emery have also been outstanding for you guys and they can platoon if needed in the playoffs
Katie Strang (3:46 PM)
Ok all, that is it for today but thanks for all the great questions. See you back here next week as we count down the days until the playoffs begin!