Chat with Katie Strang
Welcome to SportsNation! On Friday, 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 Friday at noon ET!
Katie Strang (12:00 PM)
Happy Friday hockey fans! Just a little over two weeks until the playoffs begin and intensity is already ratcheting up. Lots to discuss as always, so let's not waste any time.Fire away!
Doug (Long Island)
Hi Katie, Happy Friday!How good has Gustav Nyquist been lately? Oh my. Do you expect him to be an elite player in the NHL?
Katie Strang (12:02 PM)
Thanks Doug! Same to you. Gustaf Nyquist has been sensational. And while I suspect Mike Babcok will receive plenty of Jack Adams love should his injury-ravaged Red Wings make the playoffs, Nyquist should also reap recognition for single-handedly helping Detroit remain in the race. He has really emerged as a dynamic offensive threat in wake of the team's many losses this season. Wouldn't be surprised to see him become a 30-goal scorer in this league
After a Vezina nomination last year, Niemi has not had a good year in San Jose. He seems to let in a bad goal most games - last night's goal was brutally bad. I personally blame his unorthodox style and the smaller pads this year that are leaving holes that didn't use to be there. Meanwhile, Alex Stalock has quietly been spectacular. His save % and GAA would have him leading the Vezina talk if he had started 50 games instead of 16. He is also much better playing the puck then Niemi. Is it wrong to hope Niemi gets a mild groin strain, has to miss a few starts and Stalock gets the job and never, ever gives it back???
Katie Strang (12:05 PM)
Um, yes. I know Niemi wasn't great last night in allowing 4 goals vs. Winnipeg, but I disagree with you about his season thus far with San Jose. Last time I checked he leads all NHL goaltenders with 36 wins.
Eric (Los Angeles)
Glad my Kings are making an east coast trip this late in the season, so you and the other (except my man, LeBrun) don't have to make excuses for not staying up late, but rather get a primetime look at the 2014 SC Champs! So, whatcha think?
Katie Strang (12:06 PM)
They continue to be terrific on the road. Not sure I like them to come out on top when all is said and done, but no one expected them to in 2012, either. They have elite goaltending and one of the best defensemen in the game. If Marian Gaborik can be the sort of game-breaker they envisioned, perhaps they make another deep run
James Cohen (Levittown, New York)
Could the NY Rangers be a cup contender this season if St. Louis and Nash heat up?
Katie Strang (12:07 PM)
I don't think so. Still don't think they are equipped to beat Boston in a best-of-seven series. In fact, I don't see any team in the East that is
William (South Carolina)
Do you think the Blue Jackets will be able to hold the top spot in the wild card standings for the rest of the year?
Katie Strang (12:08 PM)
I do, actually. I like the Blue Jackets to make the playoffs and I like them to give a team trouble in the first-round. Helps if Bobrovsky gets healthy soon. Sounds like he is on the verge of shaking whatever sort of flu bug has been ailing him of late.
Bryan from Bay Shore NY [via mobile]
What do you think is going on with Marty St. Louis? No goals since the trade? Comfort issue? Nerves? Injury?
Katie Strang (12:09 PM)
I think he's just a bit snake-bitten. If I were a Rangers fans, I honestly wouldn't be too concerned. For the most part, he is still generating offense and creating chances for his linemates. He just hasn't scored. He will
Lets cut to the chase: Who is the frontrunner to buy the Isles?
Katie Strang (12:11 PM)
Not sure. Reached out to Mikhail Prokhorov's spokesperson and she referred me to previous statements he has made about the matter. He has previously stated he has no interest in purchasing another team at this time. I have reached out to Nelson Peltz' spokesperson as well, but have not yet heard back. Could be someone we haven't heard of before. And who knows how preliminary/exploratory the conversations have been. Will keep trying to track more info down, I promise.
Who wins tonight's flyers/leafs game?
Katie Strang (12:14 PM)
My fine colleague Scotty Burnside made a great point on our podcast the other day that it would be the Leaf-iest thing to do to rattle off a couple of wins this weekend just to keep the will-they, won't-they discussion burning. He's probably right. I'll take the Leafs tonight
John (NY / RI)
What do you think about the possibility of a new Islanders owner?
Katie Strang (12:14 PM)
A huge coup for the fans and the team if true. Franchise needs someone committed and competent to running the team.
Should the Western Conference be getting worried? The LA Kings seem to be looking more and more like the buzz-saw that absolutely buried the league in 2012
Katie Strang (12:15 PM)
Unfortunately, that's not the only team to worry about out West. The strength of competition out there is absolutely mind-boggling. St. Louis still feels like the team to beat for me, but LA is rounding into form
The "Ryan McDonagh for Norris" bandwagon is filled up and, in all likelihood, isn't going anywhere. Therefore, I'm starting the "Ryan McDonagh for Conn Smythe" bandwagon. It's still in the garage, but any interest in riding shotgun?
Katie Strang (12:16 PM)
I appreciate the invitation, but I'm going to politely decline Mark. I truly do not see the Rangers advancing past the second round
Phil Esposito (Tampa, FL)
Katie, in defense of #Fatso, I was asked on the Power Play show on XM NHL radio last week how I was able to play for so long. My response (seriously): "Nobody worked out or lifted weights in the 70s. I played for so long because I never got hurt. You can't hurt fat."
Katie Strang (12:17 PM)
Ha, you know it's funny. i think Butch Goring and Mike Bossy have made similar comments about how much different things are these days and how much more worn down they'd have been if they had morning skates every game day. Puts things in perspective.
Jamie (Iowa )
The loss of Bobby Ryan is just another black eye on this season it would seem. The addition of Ales Hemsky seemed to be perfect to begin with, but fell off a little now. There?s no way they make the playoffs, but does Ottawa look hard at resigning Hemsky due to his chemistry with Spezza and has the team given up?
Katie Strang (12:18 PM)
Yes, I think they will look at that possibility, though they won't be the only team interested in signing him. I could see Florida and New Jersey both being interested.
Chris (WI )
Jake Gardiner/Kessel are about the only bright spots for a falling Toronto team? do you see them making the playoffs and why has Gardiner become such an important player now vs. earlier on?
Katie Strang (12:20 PM)
I know James Van Riemsdyk has been streaky, but he's still someone to feel hopeful about as well, I'd say. No, I think the Leafs are finally paying for their shortcomings. They defied logic this season by winning games despite dreadful possession numbers and now they're being exposed. Combine that with the pressure-cooker of a potential implosion in Toronto and it's not looking good for the Leafs
What do you make of Berube's decision to move Lecavalier back to center, but also down to 4th line?
Katie Strang (12:21 PM)
Sure does seem to be a message sent to Lecavalier, who has had an underwhelming season. Placed on a line with Hall and Rinaldo. Quite a wake-up call. Should be interesting to see how he responds. I like what Berube has done with Philly so far this season. He demands accountability and this is just another example
John Senkpiel (Kansas City, Missouri )
Hey Katie, Could this finally be the year the Blues are set to make a deep playoff run?
Katie Strang (12:22 PM)
Absolutely. Love that Doug Armstrong was confident enough to go all-in in acquiring Ryan Miller at the deadline. Also like the addition of Steve Ott, whose game is tailor-made for the playoffs. That said, a tremendous amount of pressure for this team to live up to expectations this post-season
How does Toronto solve their defense/team defense problem next year?
Katie Strang (12:23 PM)
I think there has to be a two-fold approach. Have to mix in some different personnel and have to re-evaluate team's defensive-zone strategy in current system. Whatever is going on now is clearly not working
Hi Katie, who are your 3 picks for Norris this year? Do you believe the hype of McDonagh as a potential finalist?
Katie Strang (12:25 PM)
I think McDonagh is in the top ten for consideration, but I don't think he's a serious contender yet. I'd say:1. Duncan Keith2. Zdeno Chara3. Alex Pietrangelo
Hi Katie, is there anything the league can/will do to cut down on the flopping? I watched the canadiens/bruins game the other night and watching Subban out there was very frustrating (and i dont like either team). Seems like there needs to be steeper penalties or fines for players who dive and embellish frequently. Why should players keep being rewarded with power plays for their team for flopping around?
Katie Strang (12:26 PM)
I think the embellishment penalty, when called properly, is sufficient
Stu (Newport Beach)
Katie, are the Ducks going to finish in first in the Pacific? Great loss by SJ last night.
Katie Strang (12:27 PM)
Nah, I still like the Sharks to wrap up the Pacific Division title. Would be huge for them to avoid first-round match-up vs. Kings. No one wants that
what team from the west can beat the bruins in a 7 game series?
Katie Strang (12:28 PM)
Pretty much any of the teams in the top six
You think Reimer is LI-bound this summer (ugh...offseason questions in March...)?
Katie Strang (12:29 PM)
Haha it's ok. I think he could be a good fit and a nice low-risk addition to the team. Modest cap hit, solid potential. Not a bad idea
John (Long Island)
Which of the Islanders rooks this year is your favorite? Which ones have surprised you in a good way?
Katie Strang (12:30 PM)
Been impressed with the way defenseman Calvin de Haan's game has come around
St. Louis? Miller will come up small in crunch time. You've been advised.
Katie Strang (12:30 PM)
Taking cheap shots at my fellow Spartan? Noted
Alex Ovechkin (Washington, D.C.)
Do I have another magical run in me that can push my Caps into the playoffs? Looks tough with the schedule we have. (Bruins, Blues, Hawks, '85 Bears, '96 Bulls) Ok maybe not the Bears and Michael Jordan's Bulls, but it sure feels that way. Can we get through it?
Katie Strang (12:31 PM)
Reliance on PP makes me skeptical. Think Columbus and Detroit hang onto the last wild card spots
Should Wild fans be concerned or very concerned about playoff chances, given the recent skid and upcoming schedule?
Katie Strang (12:32 PM)
Yes. They have been inconsistent. They aren't scoring enough goals. And questions persist about their goaltending.
Do you think Pitt will get it together when Martin, Malkin, Letang and Bennett return or are they primed for another upset?
Katie Strang (12:34 PM)
They are one of the most intriguing teams to watch heading into the playoffs. They don't have the same forward depth as years past and Marc-Andre Fleury will have to prove that last spring's implosion was an anomaly. If the Pens make a hasty exit, will be curious to see what happens with Dan Bylsma.
I know he won't win the Hart because he's not a big enough name and plays on the west coast, but is Pavelski deserving of the honor? Don't know where the Sharks would be without him because of the injuries this season!
Katie Strang (12:35 PM)
I think he belongs in the top ten as well, but not the top three. Sid is still runaway favorite
Andy (St. Louis)
Hi Katie,Who are your picks for the Selke this year?
Katie Strang (12:35 PM)
Bergeron, Toews, Backes but that's subject to change
Do you see a low-seeded team (in either conference) making a deep run in the postseason?
Katie Strang (12:37 PM)
Definitely LA in the West. And as stated earlier I could see Columbus surprising some folks, though I'm not sure I see them making it to the Eastern Conference finals
Nix (Geneva, NY)
What would be the more interesting first round match-up: NYR-PHI or NYR-CBJ?
Katie Strang (12:37 PM)
Did you watch last Friday's game? Definitely the latter
Dominic (dallas tx)
with the way the NHL has their salary cap its rare to see teams constantly a favorite to win the cup year after year. with that said do you feel the Blackhawks have enough of their key players under multi-year contracts to consistently have a legitimate shot at the Cup for years to come??
Katie Strang (12:39 PM)
Yup, especially assuming that the hawks re-sign both Toews and Kane when they are eligible for extensions following this season.
Not sure why the love for the sharks? Anaheim went into SJ and could have won last Thursday if the refs weren't whistle happy towards the end of the game without fowler, palmeiri, and bonino. Anaheim's schedule is very favorable and they have games at hand. They will be back in first after tonight's win in Edmonton.
Katie Strang (12:40 PM)
Ren- I did pick the Sharks as my pre-season favorite for the Stanley Cup winner, so I'm trying to stay true to my word
What coaches could be on the hot seat this summer? Trotz, Bylsma, Torts? And who do you think could end up coaching next year whose currently not a head coach in the NHL?
Katie Strang (12:41 PM)
All three, yes. And to answer the latter part of your question: Peter Laviolette
Any news on the Kreider injury? Will he have surgery?
Katie Strang (12:42 PM)
Nothing yet, though I suspect we will know more soon
Katie, as a Blues fan I wan't no part of Phoenix the first round. Smith is the type of goalie that can get hot and cause lots of trouble. Please bring on Dallas or Minny.
Katie Strang (12:42 PM)
I'd be pulling for Minny if I were you.
Katie Strang (12:43 PM)
Ok all, we are going to end there today. As always, thanks for the great questions.Have a fantastic weekend!