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 (2:29 PM)
Hi all, hope everyone is having a good Thursday. I recorded our second Blackhawks podcast earlier today. It should be up later today. Please give it a listen. I'll be here for however long needed today. Let's get started.
Meat Slapper (Celler)
Scott, first time long time. What are your thoughts on Raanta? Seems pretty inconsistent but has looked good at times. Does he continue to play, and do we extend him next year as the backup?
Scott Powers (2:32 PM)
Raanta has been inconsistent, but that's expected. It's still his first year in the NHL, and the plan wasn't for him to come up this soon. He saved the Blackhawks during a rough patch there when Crawford and Khabibulin went down. It could have been really bad during that month if Raanta wasn't reliable. It's been an adjustment for him to be a backup now and only start every once in a while. The nice thing for him is there will be more consistent opportunities to start after the Olympic break. I would assume the Blackhawks resign him, especially with him being a restricted free agent.
OG Mudbone (your mouth)
Scott, at some point do we switch up the 1st line? It's been great, but I'm wondering if putting Sharp on the second line, and perhaps Saad up on the 1st, would have a better impact on the lineup as a whole. Thoughts?
Scott Powers (2:33 PM)
OG, I don't see that happening. That first line will have some off nights, but I still think they've been pretty good. Sharp's and Toews' scoring numbers are down a bit in January, but Hossa is having a heck of a month. They all seem to take turns with it. I can't imagine Quenneville switching that up.
Petite Feet (Feminine Step)
Hey Scott - first time long time. What's your take on Bickel? Does he turn it around when playoffs start, or will he become dead weight?
Scott Powers (2:36 PM)
I think the two knee injuries have caught up with Bickell. He was slowed down by one toward the end of the playoffs last season and then he suffers another injury to the other knee this season. He had some real speed before, and that doesn't appear to be there now. He can't get moving like he once did. Maybe the Olympic break gives him some time to rest and rehab some more. I'm not sure if it's realistic for someone like that to just turn it on at will during the playoffs. He needs to be better in that last stretch of 20 games.
Hey, Scott. Do you think the Cup hangover is catching up to the Hawks or is it something else?
Scott Powers (2:38 PM)
Andrew, no, it's not the Cup hangover. That would have happened sometime in first 25 games. What the Blackhawks are experiencing now is what most teams go through during an 82-game season. The key is not allowing it to last too long. I also don't think the Blackhawks are far off from where they need to be. They've be on the wrong side of one-goal games, and they continue to struggle in overtimes. They've fixable issues. I also think Pirri will get better, and that second line will become more of a threat. The next obstacle for the Blackhawks is how their guys come out of the Olympics.
Ryan Sheahan, Dixon, Ca [via mobile]
Does the play of bickell thus far turn him into potential trade bait?
Scott Powers (2:41 PM)
Ryan, no, I don't see how someone else would want him for $4 million a season now. I also still think it's too early to judge Bickell. This season was marred by his injury, and he was coming off one last season, too. He may simply not produce this season. You can knock him next year if he doesn't get going, though.
pAss2Mouth (Back of a Volkswagen)
Hi Scott, are you concerned about any let down after the Olympics, or is that over-hyped in your opinion?
Scott Powers (2:42 PM)
I don't think it's about a letdown. I would think it's more about the health of everyone. You obviously hope no one gets injured while there, but you also want to make sure players, especially Handzus, Hossa, Rozsival, are taken care of when they return. Those guys will likely need days off to be fresh for the playoffs.
Hi Scott Just wanted to get your thoughts on how the Hawks have been playing. Do you think it is starting to get in their heads about not getting that extra point? Have a good day.
Scott Powers (2:45 PM)
Scott, there has to be some psychological effect, but I wouldn't think it's a large one. The other day in overtime they just got outplayed. It's strange because they've normally a strong 4-on-4 team. Overall, I would say their play is okay. I don't think it's time to panic, but they have some things they need to clean up. I thought all four lines played better overall yesterday.
Jerry Munnlingus (Unlimited Salad Bar)
Scott, is Kane's run at the Hart trophy over, or do you think he still has a shot?
Scott Powers (2:47 PM)
Jerry, that's likely over. He's no longer in the points race, and his consistency has dropped. I do think he'll get going again with Pirri and Versteeg in the coming weeks, but not enough to put him back in that Hart discussion.
Big Richard (Dick) (the bum)
Hi Scott, how do you feel about Bollig's play? Is he the new Bickel, and will get get that kind of money?
Scott Powers (2:49 PM)
He's not the new Bickell, but Bollig has played a lot better than most people would have expected this season. A healthy Bickell has a more overall skill set than him. But Bollig has been reliable enough defensively and shown some offensive ability. I'm curious to see whether the Blackhawks try to resign him. He'll be an unrestricted free agent.
Haven't seen any updates from the Farm recently. Who is playing well down in Rockford?
Scott Powers (2:50 PM)
Doc, I'm hoping to have another prospect update today or tomorrow. Morin got it going this past weekend and converted with a few goals. Nordstrom continues to be solid. Ross has had a few good games. Clendening is still putting up points. We just had a Q&A with IceHogs coach Ted Dent earlier in this week if you want to check that out, too.
Stretched out (back door bandit )
Do you think Toews will start to light it up on the offensive side after last nights performance, and goal?
Scott Powers (2:51 PM)
Possibly. Toews does seem to often build confidence after a positive game.
Hey Scott - first time long time. The 2nd line center has been a hole in the lineup since 2010, yet we've won 2 cups in that span. How big of an issue is this, and do you see the Hawks making a move at the deadline to address this?
Scott Powers (2:53 PM)
Not hearing a lot about rumors at this point. Pirri may be the answer there. I thought he was solid yesterday. Remember, he also is just coming off an injury and only started playing last week again. I think he'll get better with time. I think he's capable of filling that hole. As for the future, Teravainen is likely the guy. He might be up later this season, and the latest next year.
What will Coach Q do during the Olympics?
Scott Powers (2:55 PM)
I imagine some of the Blackhawks' management will check out some IceHogs' games, but not sure otherwise. I'm sure they watch the Olympics and pray no one gets hurt.
Trying to put aside any bias...do you think Toews got snubbed in terms of the captaincy of Team Canada?
Scott Powers (2:56 PM)
Kevin, I don't know. Crosby is the face of Canadian hockey. Toews is certainly a strong leader, but I also don't think it matters much. He still has an A on his sweater and will help lead the team.
Eric Rumplemints (Moms Basement)
Hey Scott, I am a bit new to hockey here. I have been seeing our fourth line on the ice a lot lately, I always thought they should be seeing the least amount of ice time. Why is this?
Scott Powers (2:58 PM)
Quenneville is often matching up the fourth line with the opponent's best line. The fourth line's shifts are starting nearly all the time in the defensive zone. Over the last 10 games, I believe Quenneville is giving that fourth line 10-plus minutes of even-strength ice time. In some ways, the fourth line has become the third line.
Pen15 Club 4 Men (Mundelein )
Hi Scott (can I call you Scott?), how active do you see the Hawks being at the deadline?
Scott Powers (3:00 PM)
I don't see them being too active. There isn't much wiggle room with the cap. They're right up to it now. I could see Pirri and Morin being guys they look to more if needed after the Olympic break. Teravainen might also be a late addition if needed.
Zurpleman (Orland Park)
Hey Scott- Big fan of your Blog. Do you think it's time to have Coach Q sit Seabrook? He's been looking slow and could use a talking to.Thanks you for you time.
Scott Powers (3:02 PM)
I don't see that happening either. Seabrook will likely benefit from a few weeks off. I thought Oduya had a couple rough games lately, and Rozsival hasn't been too consistent. I know Seabrook has his off moments, but I think he's been pretty solid most of the year.
Trolling Hard (your blog)
Hey Scott, Do you think Oduya needs to step up his game a bit in order to stay solidified on that 2nd line D? He has had some real rough games in this stretch..
Scott Powers (3:03 PM)
I agree about Oduya. He's had a few less-than-stellar games. I don't foresee him moving off that second pairing, though. He and Hjalmarsson have been solid often against the other teams' top lines. They're going to beat at times with that challenge.
Owen (Norfolk, VA)
Seems this year we have been relying on the big guns (Toews, Hossa, Sharp, Kane) to do the scoring. If I recall last season we got a good amount of goals from the 3rd and 4th line guys? Is it me or are we not experiencing similiar goal production from those lines?
Scott Powers (3:05 PM)
Owen, they certainly received more production from the third line last season. I think the lines now will revive the offense. The second line had some quality looks last night. Saad and Shaw are just so active and work so hard to create chances. And that fourth line has been surprisingly consistently putting the puck on net.
Ray (Las Vegas)
Scott, Do roster expand like in baseball after the trade deadline without cap implications? If so, besides Morin who are possible call ups or with the Icehogs in a playoff battle would things pretty much be status quo?
Scott Powers (3:08 PM)
Ray, after the trade deadline the roster can expand to more than 23 players. The Blackhawks often call up a lot of players right before the playoffs and skate their Black Aces separately. Ben Smith and Ryan Stanton were called up and skated with the Blackhawks during the playoffs last season.
Ryan Sheahan, Dixon, Ca [via mobile]
Is Q frustrated with the lack of hitting?
Scott Powers (3:10 PM)
Ryan, no. The Blackhawks were nearly the same team last season when it came to hitting. They proved then hitting doesn't determine whether they can win the Stanley Cup. It's not something Quenneville ever says he needs more of.
ICP 4 Lyfe (the streets (of rage))
Scott, if the Hawks bring over Teravainen around playoff time, how many games does he have to play to count as his first year of an entry level deal?
Scott Powers (3:11 PM)
Teravainen has to play less than 10 regular-season games for his contract to slide a season.
Dan Bozek (Portillo's)
Hey Powers,How about a round of applause for my big hulking sister! She is going to be on Team USA women's hockey.
Scott Powers (3:12 PM)
Yes, congratulations to Megan.
Feeling Myself (In the Building)
Hey Scott, avid follower. Hossa spoke about the chemistry of our penalty kill and its changes from last seasons stellar pairings. Why do you think we've had so many issues this season?
Scott Powers (3:14 PM)
The penalty kill has appeared to finally come around. They switched up their system slightly from last season, and the change in personnel affected them. I think the key was getting Kruger and Handzus to click. Hossa and Toews have been pretty good all season.
Do you see Jeremy Morin on the Hawks roster next season? If so, do you see him coming in and playing a Ben Smith role in an effort to impress Q to eventually move him up to the 2nd/3rd line? I don't think many people can doubt his offensive skills.
Scott Powers (3:16 PM)
Brian, I would think the Blackhawks resign Morin because he's a restricted free agent. I'm curious to see whether he remains in the organization or is used as trade bait. There just isn't many spots opening up after this season, and you add Teravainen to the mix next year.
where do you foresee Pirri lining up if/when Teuvo comes over to the Hawks? Do you see him as expendable or does he have a future on the Hawks?
Scott Powers (3:18 PM)
Dustin, I think there's a spot for Pirri even when Teravainen comes. Handzus will be gone after this season. Shaw can easily play a wing role. I could see Toews, Teravainen, Pirri and Kruger being the centers.
James (Fort Worth, TX)
The PK, 19 straight killed, 92% in the last 10 games, seaon high 79% overall. Have they turned the corner on the PK?
Scott Powers (3:19 PM)
James, it appears that way. Kruger and Handzus have been more reliable as a forward pairing. I also think Crawford has been better against power plays. He had some quality saves last night. His save percentage on the power play had been pretty lower earlier in the season.
Jim burbank [via mobile]
Hey Scott, First like to thank you for your great work! I have 2 part question. - Coach Q seems to be showing signs in his interviews of getting frustrated with Bickell. If you look back on Bicks last few seasons he's been this type of player all along.. only time he played to his potential was during Cup finals last yr his (Contract year) Do you see Hawk at least exploring trading Bickell? 2nd Question is - Do you think Teams in NHL have finally caught to hawks style by heavy forechecking them? Seems Hawks are having difficulty with this. Thanks
Scott Powers (3:23 PM)
Jim, I don't Bickell is completely healthy. I think the Olympic break may do him well. There won't be any trading him. As for the second part, I do think teams attempt to do that, but their success in that varies. The Blackhawks are still often playing their best against the league's top teams. They excelled in those Anaheim and Boston games. They've played well against LA. I think the Blackhawks would like to get four lines rolling again, which they've lacked as of late and that allows defenses to key on specific lines.
Rob Mann (Sturgis)
Yo Powers, do you think the blackhawks will switch up the PP? Maybe but a big man in front like old B-Fugs times?
Scott Powers (3:25 PM)
Rob, I don't think there will be much change in that. They like Shaw out in front. I do think that top unit needs to put more shots on net again. There was one power play last night where they had 25 passes within a minute. The second unit actually got some chances on net. I thought the Saad to Versteeg to Hossa goal was a nice play.
Hi Scott, Just a heads up that you're answering questions almost exclusively from one jackass who thinks he is pretty clever with his name and location quips. On that note, what do you think of the Blackhawks fan base in comparison with those of other teams and other sports? ;-)
Scott Powers (3:28 PM)
Lisa, the Blackhawks' fan base continues to grow. The sellout streak is impressive. The support they give the team on the road is too. Winning obviously helps all of this as well.
Scott Powers (3:29 PM)
Thanks to everyone for the questions today. As always, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have anything else. Have a good weekend.