Q: Jesse, at what point do the Hawks officially determine that they need help outside the organization to help the power play? I can't imagine that this rides out much longer, even though it is early on in the year. Is it too early to hop on the Shane Doan bandwagon? -- Steve V. (Wilmette, IL)
A: It’s never too early to hop on the Doan bandwagon but it’s probably way too early for Phoenix to think about trading the face of their franchise. As for the Hawks, a deal won’t happen any time too soon is my guess. The same players -- for the most part -- had a top-5 power play last year and so this year’s group will be given every opportunity to fix things. I’ll say this: They need some shooters on the point. But it’s a long season and the trade deadline is far off.
Q: With Mayers and Carcillo filling the fight card on a regular basis, what role does John Scott have to play? Is Quenneville just going to use him on nights the other team is playing a heavyweight? -- Josh (Chicago)
A: He’s insurance in case of injuries and will get some time against bigger teams or ones that like to take some liberties with the Hawks’ skilled players. It’s probably the reason he dressed against St. Louis -- for protection and intimidation. The Blues have historically played a chippy game though they didn’t show much of that Tuesday night, maybe because Scott was in the lineup or maybe because they have a new head coach.
Q: Bickell is back to playing soft. When he plays like this (which is most of the time) he is ineffective and not really an asset (he's no Daze) and about the only thing attractive about him is his contract. Do you think he will ever wake up for more than a few games at a time, and if not, should we move him now and see what we can get? -- Jordy
A: I simply can’t answer your question because I don’t think anyone knows. Unfortunately your premise seems correct though. He had a great start to the year but has tailed off as he has in the past. If a trade involving him is to be made it would probably be part of a bigger one because he’s a small fish by himself. You’re right about his contract so maybe that’s why he can be given multiple chances. It wasn’t long ago he played inspired playoff hockey so you can’t rule him out but everyone wants more consistency for sure.
Q: With such poor penalty kill, why isn’t Sharp killing penalties anymore? He’s also a threat for a shorthanded goal. You can’t say that about Kruger or Frolik. He’s a good defensive forward who knows the game. Why won’t Quenneville use him? -- Jim (Naperville, Ill.)
A: Until the last two games that wasn’t an urgent question. The Hawks were ranked in the top 5 in killing penalties so the personnel was just fine. I suspect it started out that way because Sharp missed training camp so this would limit some minutes and keep him in shape. I’m sure he’s past that now so maybe we’ll see the change. I just think Quenneville liked the pairs (Hossa/Toews, Frolik/Bolland, Kruger/Mayers) and left it alone because of the success. In some instances, such as late in games the Hawks are trailing, you’ll see him out there. Patrick Kane saw shorthanded time under that scenario against the Blues.
Q: Hey Jesse, any chance Jeremy Morin or Ben Smith get a call-up if the current players can’t keep up with the captain? He’s getting hosed lately with slow, slow, slow linemates. -- The Ox (Northwest side)
A: I don’t think there is any doubt one or both could get called up. I would imagine Smith will be sooner than later. He deserves a chance to pick up where he left off last season and when the Hawks started hot he had to wait his turn. Now that they’ve cooled off I would imagine they would try to find a spot for him fairly soon if the problems on offense or even the power play continue. Logically, it’s the next thing to try.
Q: While Kane has shored up the huge concern with center position, it has left yet another hole at the forward position. Bickell has been inconsistent at best, Brunette looks like he simply does not belong, and Carcillo shouldn't be on the second line. How long do you think before the Hawks allow this to continue before they make a deal to add one more talented and tough winger? Also, good call on Montador during the preseason. He struggled late last year in Buffalo, all preseason, and has been the worst Hawks defenseman so far this year. -- Steve (Chicago)
A: I think we are seeing Quenneville work through those things right now. He made the right move breaking up the third line and giving Michael Frolik a chance with Toews and Sharp but the jury is still out. Brunette was dropped and Bickell benched so Quenneville sees what we all see. There still might need to be some tweaking but at least he’s identified who’s slowing things down. I don’t have a big problem with Carcillo where he is, but I wouldn’t mind Smith or Morin getting a chance. Teams don’t make panic trades after a few bad games, 15 into the season. An early deal, in my opinion, would be around Christmas. There's always a chance to be surprised but all the in-house potential solutions will be tried before a trade. Montador has been better since camp but I thought he’s taken a dip the last couple games.
Q: Attending the horrid Sunday Canucks game, I couldn't help but feel we played the part of the Canucks -- stupid undisciplined penalties, a whiny goalie not focused on the puck and hitting after the whistle instead of during the play. Instead of the Canucks being immature children, for the first time it was the Hawks. Did the players put too much stock in the rivalry? Having spoken with them is there a feel for why the play was so uncharacteristic? That being said seeing Roberto Luongo continue his pathetic ways on that goal really helped saved the night. -- Mark (Chicago)
A: Some of that might be true but its not like the Hawks have ever had an undisciplined game. It happens. It just came at a bad time against a rival but an early November game doesn’t necessarily set the tone for the rest of the season series or possible playoff matchup. They played bad and are in a slump. Doesn’t matter the opponent. It just stings more when it’s Vancouver.
Q: Other than Toews, who in the Hawks locker room steps up and gets the team to refocus after a bad loss like Sunday? -- Curt
A: Patrick Sharp is one guy. Also Brent Seabrook. I think Jamal Mayers will have his say every so often. That’s the group there. I’m not sure how much Sean O’Donnell speaks up but the veteran core are the guys to do it.