Chat with Katie Strang
Welcome to SportsNation! On Wednesday, 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 Wednesday at 3 p.m. ET!
Katie Strang (3:00 PM)
Hey hockey fans! Welcome to another weekly installment of puck talk. Catching a flight later this afternoon as I head home to Michigan for Turkey Day, so let's not waste any time.Fire away!
Brian C (Toronto)
Katie, of the Islanders and Flyers, which team has the better opportunity to break out of their slumber and be competitive?
Katie Strang (3:02 PM)
Like what I've been seeing with the Flyers of late. They seem to be turning the corner and last night was a good example of why. Good goaltending from Steve Mason and some key contributors like Claude Giroux, Kimmo Timonen and Sean Couturier chipped in offensively. Both teams are suspect on D, but I give the Flyers the edge in goaltending, especially now with Evgeni Nabokov on the shelf
Jesse S. (Carmel, NY)
Katie, for all of us that just got NYR-NYI Stadium Series tickets this morning on the pre-sale, where is the ESPN tailgate going down? And is there a chance we can see a Barry Melrose vs Boomer Esiason street hockey showdown?
Katie Strang (3:03 PM)
That is a glorious idea, Jesse and one I will pass along to Barry. Can't imagine I will have much time to tailgate which is for shame considering I make a mean Buffalo Chicken Dip
Devils are two points out of the third metro playoff spot but also only 2 points away from the basement; which is more likely to happen? (Of course they find their groove right before another West Coast road trip!)
Katie Strang (3:04 PM)
I think the Devils will continue to hang right about where they are right now. One of the main reasons? The widespread mediocrity of the Eastern Conference. The Devils might be cooked if they were in the West, but they keep hanging on to fight another day. Not outside the realm of possibility they could make a run and challenge for a playoff spot
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
What is the Coldest NHL Hockey Game that you have been to?
Katie Strang (3:05 PM)
I feel like this is a trick question, as I get a similar one from you each week. Am I being punked? Is there some underlying significance to this that I don't quite understand?
Doug (Long Island)
Katie,How do you feel about all these outdoor games this year? I haven't been to one yet, i bought tickets for the Rangers/Isles one though. (way too expensive btw, but i'm a sucker). I was a fan when MLB first started the inter-league play, Yanks/Mets, but now that they do it every year, i could care less. It was only "cool", because they rarely played each other. I guess my question is: do you think having a lot more of these outdoor games will eventually get less attractive to us fans, and because of the ridiculous prices to attend the games, they will get less and less successful, and go away? i thought 1 game a year with different teams was perfect.
Katie Strang (3:07 PM)
Interesting question, Doug and it's actually one I posed to NHL COO John Collins on Monday when the NHL unveiled its plans for a seven-part docu-series leading up to the outdoor games. Basically, this is an attempt to garner more exposure for the league with the Olympic games as the linchpin. While it allows the NHL to tap into some regional markets that would otherwise have to wait their turn for the Winter Classic, don't expect this level of saturation next year. Sounds like they will do some more, but not as many as this year
Is Jack Capuano's job in jeopardy for the underachieving Isles? Some of his recent decisions (Grabner scratched, Paring Issues) have been questionable.
Katie Strang (3:09 PM)
I think it should be. The biggest indictment of Capuano right now is that the team does not seem to have made progress from last year's step forward. Appears they are back to their old ways in terms of coughing up late leads and the like. Part of that has to fall on the coach. He is close friends with Garth Snow, but I'm really starting to wonder how long of a leash he has
Hi Katie! I love these weekly chatsSo what do you think of the sudden turn around the Panthers are having? They are starting to look pretty good. The new coaching staff seems to have changed the entire way they play the game and Tim Thomas is still great. Thoughts?
Katie Strang (3:11 PM)
Hey Dara! Thanks for stopping by again. I think the Panthers had a pretty abrupt wake-up call with the coaching change and I don't think Peter Horachek is going to do anything but help. He's very structured and organized, two elements the team lacked earlier this season. He'll be good on getting the squad going in the right direction and making the most out of the abundance of spare parts the team has acquired in recent years
when did the bruins become the flyers 2.0? very dirty and dangerous crosscheck by marchand on zucc, and chara would not stop throwing cheap shot punches throughout the game. throw in lucic, thornton etc. and it's ridiculous.
Katie Strang (3:13 PM)
Bruins have always played with edge. They bruised their way to the Stanley Cup Championship in 2011, but I wouldn't go so far as to call them dirty. I didn't like the hit from Marchand, but didn't have a problem with anything else I saw from last night's game. They embrace their physicality and use it in the right way. It's given them success; why stop now?
Hi Katie! Obviously Del Zotto's the hottest topic in Rangerland right now... Both Craig Custance and Pierre LeBrun mentioned that there are 5-6 teams interested in him, what's your take on that? Can we expect a trade in the near future?
Katie Strang (3:16 PM)
I think the Rangers would be more than happy to move him, honestly. That's been true for a while now, but Alain Vigneault certainly does not seem to be his No. 1 fan. Just a few hours ago he said that he's "heard that Michael Del Zotto is a much better defenseman than he's seen." Ouch. Has played himself out of a regular spot in the lineup. Though he returns Thursday night after being scratched three games straight, he'll have to fight to stay there. Biggest problem for the Rangers moving him now is his diminishing value. I'd be surprised though, if the 23-year-old finishes out the season in NY
Hi Katie, virtually every Ranger D man has struggled at some point adjusting to AV's system as recently as last night when Girardi made a horrible turnover that luckily Hank saved. So what have you seen that makes DelZotto's play so much worse that they're rumored to be shopping him?
Katie Strang (3:18 PM)
When Del Zotto was first scratched before Montreal, I assumed it was his defensive shortcomings that had him in the dog house, too. Not so. Vigneault rattled off all the things he had heard about Del Zotto's offensive abilities coming in. THAT was what he identified as the problem. Doesn't feel DZ is living up to his billing as a talented offensive-defenseman
Katie, any chance Marty gets considered for team Canada? I know Price has had some solid regular season stats but he does nothing in clutch games. I won't argue that Luongo should be #1 and Smith #2 (if he can stay healthy) but any love for Marty in that #3 spot?
Katie Strang (3:19 PM)
I really don't think so and from the sounds of it, neither does Marty
Ed (Queens Village)
Is Red Wings 7 game losing a streak a blip or concern? I don't think Babcock job is in jeopardy at this time.
Katie Strang (3:21 PM)
I don't think his job is in jeopardy either, particularly because the Red Wings have been hit pretty hard with injuries. Last night didn't help as rookie defenseman Danny DeKeyser went down with a shoulder injury that is expected to sideline him for 3-6 weeks. Wings placed him on Long Term Injured Reserve today so he has to sit out a minimum of ten games. Tough blow for Detroit
matt (athens ohio)
do you think there is a chance the rangers don't buy out either rick nash or brad richards
Katie Strang (3:22 PM)
Here's the problem with Richards' buyout situation. The Rangers will get absolutely hammered with cap recapture penalties in the case of early retirement. Regardless of how well or poorly plays, that is the most prohibitive factor in keeping him around
Joel (Los Angeles)
Nashville is 13th in the West, yet would make the playoffs today if they were in the Metro. How long do you think it will take for the talent disparity between the conferences to balance out?
Katie Strang (3:24 PM)
Good question. The lack of parity between the two conferences is incredible. The West is just so much better right now. I'm not sure I see things evening out before season's end at all. Just so much talent and firepower out West
Adam (New York)
Hi Kate. which players would say have played their way on to the Team USA radar and who has played their way off
Katie Strang (3:28 PM)
Ben Bishop sure is making an interesting case for himself, isn't he? Depending on the severity of Jonathan Quick's injury, the Bolts netminder just may earn a spot yet. Also think Seth Jones continue to hang in there for consideration. Though he was recently dropped to Nashville's second D pairing, he gobbled up big minutes paired with Shea Weber for most of the first quarter of the season. I'd love to see a guy like Kyle Okposo crack the roster, but if the Isles keep struggling that could affect his chances
Is Kreider someone who can hold his own in a fight? You can tell even by watching on TV that players are getting a little fed up with him skating around and finishing checks (which we love) and last night it looked like he wanted to stand up for Zucc but either was smart not to take a penalty himself or is it that he is not one to drop the gloves?
Katie Strang (3:29 PM)
That is something I am very curious to see, Reilly. He is definitely playing with more of an edge, and seems to be borderline dipping toes into antagonism at times. He's a big boy and very strong, but can't imagine he has had much practice as a pugilist. My guess is that we are going to find out soon enough with him walking that very fine line of late
Kevin (Los Angeles)
The way Scrivens is playing for LA right now, and the way Quick started the year, do you see Scrivens getting more starts when Quick is healthy?
Katie Strang (3:30 PM)
Depends on how Quick is when he returns, but if they find him to be a capable fill-in I think there is a chance they feel better about leaning on him a bit more, especially considering this being an Olympic year.
Katie, Your colleagues (Mssrs. Burnside and LeBrun) have Seth Jones winning the Calder with DeKeyser and Monahan as the other finalists. Why no love for Tomas Hertl?
Katie Strang (3:31 PM)
I think the reasoning here is sustained production. Hertl has been very good, but is a bit streakier and has the benefit of playing for a tremendous team
hey Katie, do you see Dallas Eakins staying the full season behind the bench with the oilers? no matter how bad it gets, or is he "their" man for now?
Katie Strang (3:33 PM)
Yes, I do. The Oilers can't just keep swinging the axe and scapegoating the coach. Strongly believe that Eakins is their guy, but I just think there are a lot of issues to correct at the moment. Rebuilding takes time and patience. Firing a coach won't expedite matters
What are your two favorite NHL stadiums to watch a game? How about favorite college venue? Thanks.
Katie Strang (3:35 PM)
Best place to watch a game is Bell Centre in Montreal, no question. Hard to put any other venue in the same category, really.
Sean (Orange County, CA)
Hey Katie... The Ducks are strong in net, do they trade Hiller this year and if so, what kind of return could you see? Nashville, Edmonton are a couple teams who could possible use a #1 goalie
Katie Strang (3:37 PM)
I definitely think this is a scenario they should consider, especially considering the abundance of depth they have at the goaltending position, not just on the current team but in the pipeline as well. With Hiller set to become a UFA, I'd be surprised if they don't make an effort to move him. How about for someone that could help on their maligned power-play? Ducks will want to add someone to their roster that can help now as they could very well enter the playoffs as one of the teams to beat
Rangers interest in Havlat and AV not please with MDZ. Possible trade that could include the two of them between SJ/NY?
Katie Strang (3:38 PM)
Not unless San Jose were to retain part of his salary in the deal...
Just wanted to start by saying, as a Sharks fan, thanks for putting your money on them! Our fan base craves a Cup, no doubt. Hope this is the year. Wanted to ask you if you think my boys in teal are trending to be as bad as they looked against Chicago, or if it was more the end of a 5 game in 8 day roadie that got them. And did you expect this big of an impact when Burns went down? He was much bigger a part of that top line than I realized. Thoughts? Thanks!
Katie Strang (3:40 PM)
My pleasure, Nick! Always had the sense that the Sharks would regress a bit, but they seem to be doing a better job this season and not letting things snowball. That's a good sign for a team that has seen its fair share of collapses and disappointments. Don't be surprised by the Burns impact. Remember what a difference it made last year when he as moved from D to F?
Mac (Long Island)
Pulock, Reinhart,Strome... How much better would they make the isles
Katie Strang (3:41 PM)
Those guys still need time to develop. What the Islanders need is an NHL-ready defenseman that could play big minutes and provide a boost to their back end. Hamonic and MacDonald asked to do too much right now
Garrett (Long Island)
Hey Katie!!! Despite the Rangers recent struggles to put the puck in the net, they have had tons of quality scoring chances, and seem to have run into some hot goalies (Brodeur, Price, Scrivens, Rask). I think once they start catching some breaks and the way they have been shutting teams down defensivley, I think they will soon really start climbing in the standings. What do you think?
Katie Strang (3:42 PM)
Agreed. And their shooting percentage is bound to improve. They've recorded 80 shots on goal in the past two games combined. You pelt an opposing goaltender with 40 shots a night and you're guaranteed to win more games than not
Ilya B. (Universe)
Does bear repellent keep pucks away, too?
Katie Strang (3:43 PM)
Oh, it's going to be a fun ride in Edmonton. Nothing that could compare to a City Council meeting in Toronto or anything, but it definitely won't be boring with Bryzgalov around
Katie Strang (3:44 PM)
Ok we're going to end there today. Thanks for all your great questions and if we don;t chat before then, have a Happy Thanksgiving!