Chat with Scott Powers
Welcome to ESPNChicago.com! On Thursday, Chicago Blackhawks beat reporter Scott Powers stops by to chat.
Powers, who joined ESPNChicago.com in 2009, covers the Blackhawks for both ESPN Radio 1000 and ESPNChicago.com. He is an award-winning reporter who has been reporting on sports of all levels, from preps to pros throughout the Midwest since 1997.
Send your questions now and join Powers Thursday at 1:30 p.m. CT/2:30 p.m. ET!
Scott Powers (2:32 PM)
Hello, all. Hope everyone is having a good Thursday. I'm feeling a bit under the weather, but I'm hoping to go for an hour today.
Can we expect to see Handzus on the 2nd line much longer? He doesn't seem to be doing much of anything other than being tall. Would a Pirri call up motivate this team a little?
Scott Powers (2:33 PM)
Michael, the big news coming out of availability today was that Quenneville is going to give Kruger a chance at second-line center. Kruger moved over there starting in the second period yesterday. Quenneville said he'd be there in practice tomorrow and then likely in Saturday's game. Pirri has been hurt, so I don't see him coming up soon.
Sean F. (Plainfield, IL)
Scott, considering it's the middle of the season, I'm not to worried about the Blackhawks recent struggles with slow starts and inability to put teams away. This kind of thing seems to happen in recent seasons, like during the truncated one last year; after that amazing start they had a bit of a lull before finishing it all off with the run to the playoffs. Do you think that the Hawks can look on what they did last year and implement it to this season?
Scott Powers (2:37 PM)
Sean, last season was such a different animal with it just being a 48-game schedule. You expect some of these lulls this season because they are back to the full schedule. Everyone goes through them. I'm not sure if the same lessons apply to this schedule. I think the key isn't allowing the slumps to go on more than a week. I wouldn't be surprised if they're a motivated team come Saturday. That veteran leadership seems to get them over these humps quickly.
I know the first line has been great but my concern is the second line players with Kane. Do you think there will be a possibility of Sharp coming down to the 2nd line w/ Kane to bring a little more balance to the top two lines or is Q going to leave it with a mix Krueger Saad and Versteeg?
Scott Powers (2:39 PM)
Bill, I think they're hoping Kruger is the fix there for now. There's always the chance Teravainen gets added to the mix later in the season. Of course, Pirri could also earn a spot again. Kane's been great this season, but his even strength numbers have been poor lately. He's especially struggled to score with Handzus.
Hey Scott,Why all the secrecy on Khabibulin's torn rotator cuff?
Scott Powers (2:40 PM)
Logan, it's just the way they are in the NHL. A guy can have an ax stuck in his head and they won't admit it's a head injury. I believe their fear is other teams targeting those injuries.
Mark (Pasadena, CA)
Have you noticed how shaky Crawford is and has been for a while in handling the puck behind the net? Last night, the winning goal came right after a bad turnover by Crow. There have been many other instances where he seems to hesitate and either loses the puck, makes a bad pass to a defenseman or flat out turns it over. Some of those plays have ended with the puck in our net a few seconds later. Are the Blackhawks working with him to be better/more careful in such situations?
Scott Powers (2:41 PM)
Mark, I know Crawford has said previously he'd like to improve his stickhandling. It seems like a skill you have to put a lot of time into during the offseason and probably isn't fixable during the season. I think him and Raanta may want to get together on that this summer.
Herb (Brooks, ND)
Crawford looks really rough. Really Rough!Will Q go back to Raanta and allow Crow to get timing back.
Scott Powers (2:44 PM)
Herb, that isn't happening. Crawford has been okay since his return. I thought he was really good against the Islanders. As for Raanta, the truth is he's just been okay in net. He saved the day in the fact he was held to be consistent there with Crawford out, but his save percentage wasn't great and not much different than Crawford's.
Scott- Do you think Kane's struggles lately are due to Zeus being on the second line? I think I would rather have Kruger or Pirri brought back up. Any word on any Rockford guys being brought up such as Pirri, Nordstram etc or do they need an injury to be back up?
Scott Powers (2:46 PM)
Mark, I don't think there are any plans to bring up Rockford guys now. There isn't a consistent place for them in the lineup, and they're better off getting minutes in the AHL. Pirri is coming off an injury, so he isn't an option. A lot of guys have also been struggling down there as of late. Nordstrom has been solid, but he doesn't fit a need for the Blackhawks currently.
Noticed that the Hawks prospects were in the top tier of teams for the just concluded world "juniors" tournament. Will we see Teuvo Teravainen in the spring as has been rumored?
Scott Powers (2:47 PM)
Doc, I think it's a possibility. I talked to him yesterday and he said there was a chance that could happen. He could also play in the World Championships in May. I also think it depends on whether the Blackhawks could use him. I know the Blackhawks are happy with his development and his defense is improving.
Hey Scott!Is it me or do the Hawks look a little flat since the announcements of the Olympic teams??
Scott Powers (2:48 PM)
Sarah, it began before the Olympic announcements. You can go back to the St. Louis game where they played well early and let the Blues back into the game. They just haven't been putting together full games.
Will the two-way players that aren't on an Olympic roster play in Rockford during the Olympics?
Scott Powers (2:50 PM)
Patrick, don't think so. They just want to give everyone time off. They may rely on those guys a bit more after the break.
Have you heard anything from the front office regarding Stephan Johns or Kevin Hayes and when they might be coming to Chicago?
Scott Powers (2:51 PM)
CJ, I expect Johns and Hayes to sign after their college seasons. They'll start off in Rockford for sure. I don't think you'll see either one of them in Chicago for at least a few years.
kirk (Crystal lake,il)
Concerned a bit about the recent struggles with the penalty kill units, any talk of shaking them up ?
Scott Powers (2:52 PM)
Kirk, their PK has actually been better lately. I think they've killed off something like 28 of 31 penalties in the last 11 games. It's certainly not perfect, but it's come a long way from earlier in the year.
Hello Scott do you expect any trades near deadline from Chicago Blackhawks
Scott Powers (2:54 PM)
Tony, I'd be surprised at one at this point. The Versteeg deal obviously filled a need at that third-line wing. You look at the team now, and they could use a second-line center, but you have someone like Teravainen in the pipe line and Pirri may also get a shot again. Kruger may be the fit there, too. Their cap room is tight as well.
Bickell seems to be in Q's doghouse. What can he do leading up to and during the Olympic break to become a bigger factor the rest of the season?
Scott Powers (2:55 PM)
Cameron, Bickell got out of that doghouse a bit the last game. He played closer to his usual minutes. He admitted he hasn't felt comfortable wearing the brace and getting back into things. The break may do him really well. They need guys like Bickell and Saad to pick it up after the break.
Ty (San Francisco)
Scott, Craw has lost 3 straight games. I do not care about the contract we just gave him - I want to give Raanta an extended look - he is a rookie asked to impromptu fill in and his record is impeccable
Scott Powers (2:57 PM)
Ty, I don't think Crawford is the problem now. Yes, he wasn't great last game, but he hasn't been awful. Wins are a nice statistic, but the true measure of goaltenders is often save percentage. Raanta was fine there, but he wasn't stellar. Crawford gives them the best chance to win another Stanley Cup. Raanta may be a great goaltender down the road, but he's still adjusting and learning.
I think Raanta has developed pretty rapidly all things considered, but he is far from taking the job from Crawford. Could serving as the backup, and playing one game to each of Crawford's three, stunt that developement?
Scott Powers (2:59 PM)
Kevin, that's a good point. I think Quenneville is mindful of that. He needs appearances to get better. I think he'll get one this weekend. Also when they return from break, there's a lot of games, so I imagine his starts will increase.
Ray (Las Vegas)
With Bickell, Bollig, Handzus, Shaw & Versteeg struggling any chance we see Morin or Nordstrum anytime soon? Also can you update Pirri injury. He was hurt about 10 days ago and missed last 4 games. Heard he could be back by the weekend.
Scott Powers (3:01 PM)
Ray, Quenneville isn't going to sit any of those guys to give someone like Morin or Nordstrom a shot. That's just not how he works. As for Pirri, IceHogs coach Ted Dent said he was close when I talked to him on Sunday. I don't think there's anything serious there.
Mark (Asheville, NC)
Craw is fine and please help ease people away from ledge!!!! Why is Q so big on Bollig? He takes dumb penalties and doesn't get benched. Morin, Smith and others have done the same and don't get the second chance like Bollig!
Scott Powers (3:02 PM)
Mark, Quenneville is an old-school coach and believes you need an enforcer in the lineup. I do think Quenneville will have a talk with him about the roughing penalties. He's had one in each of the last two games.
Rob (Gold Coast)
Where has Andrew Shaw been? I feel like he's missing the last 10 games and he's been playing. You don't even notice him with the exception of being in front of the net on the power play.
Scott Powers (3:04 PM)
Rob, I agree that third line has seemed to struggle as of late on both ends of the ice. Shaw seems to be going through what a lot of team is now. If Bickell find some consistency, I'm sure that would bolster that line, too.
Has Khabibulin played his last game in a Hawks jersey?
Scott Powers (3:05 PM)
Logan, I would assume so. Bowman said he could come back, but I don't see it happening. I'm curious if this is the end of his career.
When is the earliest the Hawks can bring over Teravainen without starting the clock on his rights?
Scott Powers (3:06 PM)
Rob, I was told as long as they play him less than 10 regular-season games this season his contract would slide a season and wouldn't actually start until next season.
Do you think we'll see Saad and Versteeg switch places on the 2nd and 3rd lines? I feel like a Kane-Kruger-Versteeg line would be really small, and I've liked the way Kane and Saad have played together this season.
Scott Powers (3:07 PM)
Al, Quenneville tried to switch Versteeg and Saad this past week, but he didn't stick with it very long. They didn't skate lines today, but I assume it's going to be Versteeg-Kruger-Kane tomorrow, but there's a chance it's Saad instead of Versteeg. We'll see.
Do you think that Anti Raata will get the start this saturday againist the canadains?
Scott Powers (3:08 PM)
Tony, Quenneville wouldn't announce his starter today. I think Raanta gets one of the games, but I'm not sure which one. With two days off between games, Crawford should be fresh either way.
Scott Powers (3:11 PM)
Brad, I think you start with what he's doing -- trying someone different on that second line. You know if that second line produces slightly more in the past few games they're winning instead of losing. It's not like they're getting mopped up by teams. When Kane was rolling, the team was rolling. The key is to get him going again. Kruger certainly provides someone who can skate with Kane and get the rush moving.
I almost broke my tv during the San Jose game. Why couldn't we get a call?
Scott Powers (3:13 PM)
Yes, it was a bit strange. It was the only game this season the Blackhawks didn't draw a penalty. The Blackhwaks were only called for one, too. Sorry, though, I don't have a reason for you.
Scott Powers (3:15 PM)
Everyone, thanks as always for the questions. I'll plan on being back here next Thursday. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any other questions. Have a great weekend.