Chat with Katie Strang
Welcome to ESPNNewYork.com! On Thursday, hockey writer Katie Strang stops by to chat about the New York area teams on ice.
After spending the past two seasons as the Islanders beat writer for Newsday, Strang joins ESPNNewYork.com to cover the Rangers, Isles and Devils. She is a graduate of Michigan State University and Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.
Send your questions now and join Strang Thursday at 4 p.m. ET!
Katie Strang (4:01 PM)
Hey everyone! Here at Madison Square Garden, the site of one of the most surreal post-game press conferences Tuesday. Feel free to share thoughts about Dolan's rare appearance and ask any other questions that are on your mind!
Do you think the rangers are legit cup contenders? Also do you think they will make any good or surprising moves at the dead line? Who do you think they might get or attemt to get and who is a good fit for their playing style? And do you think having players like rupp and prust is important to set the tone and are they least likely toFight since they are doing so good right now? And does hank keep his numbers up?
Katie Strang (4:04 PM)
No, but they are much closer than I thought heading into this season. Still unsure whether they have the four-line firepower to contend for the Cup, but I think they could definitely get to the Eastern Conference finals. Expect them to make a significant move at the deadline to give them an added boost. And yes, I do think Rupp and Prust are two players who don't add a ton offensively but play major roles for the team and its blue-collar mentality.
Anthony (Fair Lawn)
Where do you see the devils finishing in the playoff race?
Katie Strang (4:05 PM)
I do see them squeaking in, Anthony. Probably an 8 seed, maybe 7. They are playing well right now and have weathered some pretty significant injuries up the middle. Tonight against Boston should be a good test considering it was only a few weeks ago they got their doors blown off by the reigning Stanley Cup Champions.
Johnny (New York)
Any status on how DiPietro's surgury went? It disgust me how people laugh at his injuries, this guy has rehabbed his butt off time 7 time again and is such a comptetitor, I'm sure it bothers him more than any fan.
Katie Strang (4:07 PM)
He did have his surgery earlier this week. I have also grown tired of the easy punchline he has become. Just seems like such a cheap laugh these days. I know he's well-compensated for his injury-hobbled tenure, but he works hard and wants to play. Very sad to see that happen to a young player's career.
Andy B (Virginia Beach)
With Kovi playing better and Marty doing better in net. At this rate do you see the devils being a force to contend with in the playoffs this season?
Katie Strang (4:09 PM)
A force? No. But if Kovalchuk continues to play well and they get some guys healthy -- Zajac, Henrique, Josefson -- they could be a deceptively dangerous team. Should be interesting to see how the goaltenders hold up down the stretch. Brodeur is a future Hall of Famer and Hedberg is, in my opinion, one of the best backups in the league. But they are both nearing 40. So there's that.
Katie, I asked you in the last chat if you thought the Rangers should go after defense or offense for a playoff push. You said defense then, but have the recent offensive struggles of the team changed your mind?
Katie Strang (4:11 PM)
Actually, yes. I was more inclined to think D in previous weeks, but I think the Rangers could really use another impact forward as well. Good thing for NYR is they have some key assets other teams would covet. And they can afford to move some guys. Sather always keeps things interesting at the deadline, and with his team poised to make a push, I think he will deliver.
Andy Backowski (Va Beach)
What are your thoughts on Avery's recent actions? Did you hear about his performance in Norfolk the night after he was a healthy scratch?
Katie Strang (4:14 PM)
Well, the whole rumor about the spitting incident is absurd. No chance that happened. He was scratched one game for disciplinary reasons; from my understanding a multitude of little things that added up. Had it been something serious, they'd have suspended him. I did see that he got a 10-min misconduct the following night for abusing officials, but without knowing exactly what happened, it's hard to say. Doesn't sound like the most healthy environment for him, but I don't see Rangers doing him a favor now and putting him on re-entry. He can't go to Russia, either. January 15 is the deadline in the KHL to add players to the roster for playoff eligibility.
Which current players would Sather be most willing to part with in a push to get the assets necessary to make a push for the cup?
Katie Strang (4:16 PM)
I think Brandon Dubinsky. Question is, where is his value right now? They will likely have to part with a top-6 forward to get a significant player back and I see him as the most obvious candidate. He entered the season as a top-6 forward -- he led the team in scoring last season -- but is he still?
Mark (Helmetshead, CA)
Why Isnt Peter Deboer getting more coach of the year talk?!
Katie Strang (4:18 PM)
Let's not forget that Jacques Lemaire led the Devils to one of the most surprising about-faces of last season. I think New Jersey took some carry-over momentum from that into this season. DeBoer will garner accolades should he succeed in getting the Devils into the playoffs, but he's not there yet.
Whats your thoughts on Dolan's comments? Do you think it will hurt the team? Do agree about Sather?
Katie Strang (4:21 PM)
No, I don't think it will hurt the team. They were happy the big boss was pleased with their performance, but I don't think they take it as more than it was -- a pat on the back for the team's current success. Operative word being current. They know they still have a lot of work ahead. And I agree that the organization has done a good job of developing home-grown talent while adding key free agents, but I don't think it's all Sather. More of an organizational philosophy. Gordie Clark deserves some credit. As does Jeff Gorton, the scouting staff and let's not forget: John Tortorella. Dolan downplayed his contributions but Tortorella is a definite Jack Adams candidate as of right now.
Why does there seem to be no love for Tavares. The guy is on a 10(?) game point streak but there is little to no mention of how dominant he has become
Katie Strang (4:24 PM)
Well, he earned an All-Star nod. So he is receiving some recognition. I know Islanders fans were furious about ESPN Insider's Neil Greenberg's Top 25 Under 25 list. I disagree with him. I think he should be on the list. But let's face it, Tavares is playing really, really well on a pretty bad team. He's not going to get showered with love on a nightly basis.
Rangers Fan (NYC)
Would Anisimov be potential trade bait? He's been struggling of late but I think he could be attractive to other teams as he is younger than Dubinsky (who you listed as a potential trade asset in an earlier response)>
Katie Strang (4:25 PM)
Yes, possibly. His game has dropped off recently, but I still think he has a ton of potential. And I'm sure other teams think so as well.
what you think King Henry's Vesna chances are?
Katie Strang (4:27 PM)
Has to be in the conversation. He is third in the league with a 1.90 goals against average and second in the league with a .937 save percentage. He also recorded his 20th win for the seventh straight season. Dominant year.
Any chance the islanders trade for a legit second line center or a top 4 d?
Katie Strang (4:28 PM)
To add a significant piece at the deadline, a team has to a) have assets other teams want and b) be in a position to make a playoff push. I don't think the team qualifies under either condition.
Mitch (New York)
Katie - have heard a few people say that Brooklyn is not a real option for the Islanders since max capacity is 14,500. However, wouldn't the Islanders be thrilled to average anywhere near that? Given that they sell most of their tickets at less than half face value, selling seats close to Face would also help. Not to mention better corporate boxes. Why isn't there more talk about this possibility?
Katie Strang (4:30 PM)
MTS Centre in Winnipeg is only a shade over 15,000 (15,004) so I tend to think that argument is overstated. At this point, I think the Barclays Center is the team's most likely option in the New York area.
Katie Strang (4:30 PM)
OK thanks everyone. Gotta end here so I can make it to Tortorella's pre-game press conference. You never know when Jim Dolan will make a surprise appearance!