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 p.m. CT/2 p.m. ET!
Scott Powers (2:00 PM)
Hi all, hope everyone is having a good Thursday. I'll be here for about 30 minutes today. I have to catch a flight out of Los Angeles in a short while.
Silky (anytown USA)
Will Raanta get to play in Rockford during the Olympics?
Scott Powers (2:01 PM)
Raanta isn't eligible to go down to Rockford for the Olympics. Pirri is. I would be surprised if they didn't send Pirri back down for the break.
At the end of this season if Brian Bickell still isn't contributing (even in the playoffs), should we trade him or hold on to him since we probably wouldn't get much?
Scott Powers (2:03 PM)
Dave, Bickell isn't going anywhere. I still don't think it's fair to judge him yet this season because of the knee injury. But if he doesn't improve over the next few seasons, the good news is the salary cap will go up after this season and Bickell's contract won't be as noticeable going forward.
Is the break going to help or hurt the momentum that the Hawks have recently found?
Scott Powers (2:10 PM)
Sorry, having internet issues at the airport.
Raj (Durham, NC)
Is Kane going to get any help on that second line? I would love for Sharp and/or Saad with him, and really get a speed line going. Or, Saad-Toews-Hos and Sharp-Pirri-Kane is another idea. Versteeg just isn't getting it done.
Scott Powers (2:12 PM)
Raj, I think the issue is often the center. I think Versteeg's been good there at times. I thought Pirri was doing okay there over the last week. Handzus just doesn't provide the same speed and offensive ability to that line. Quenneville isn't going to mess with that second line, so Sharp won't be joining him. Saad could always move back. It'll be interesting to see what Quenneville decides after the break.
Whats the news on O'Duya? Is he going to play in Phoenix?
Scott Powers (2:13 PM)
Doc, the Blackhawks don't practice until later today, so there won't be any news until then. I would assume Oduya will be a game-time decision tomorrow. Quenneville said he's day-to-day last night.
Mark (Toronto) [via mobile]
Any buzz around the Hawks about making a move for a rental 2nd line center like Legwand or Ott?
Scott Powers (2:15 PM)
Mark, not hearing the buzz so far. The Blackhawks' salary cap doesn't give them much flexibility. I still Pirri is the best option there and needs more time to show it.
Hi Scott, I know that Q likes having "truculence" (or whatever) in the line-up, but Bollig played more even strength time last night against Anaheim than Shaw, Bickell, Saad, Kruger, Versteeg, and Smith. This isn't a one-off occurance either, as he regularly gets more minutes than some of the 3rd line guys. What's up with this? I can't help thinking that this hurts the team's chances to win games (Bollig's handful of goals this year not withstanding).
Scott Powers (2:17 PM)
Dan, that fourth line has basically become the thid line for Quenneville. He uses that fourth line mainly in the defensive zone and has often given them the responsiblity against top lines. He's come to trust Bollig, Kruger and Smith in those situtations. I don't see that changing unless they start getting abused by teams. I know people aren't always happy with Bollig's play, but he isn't going anywhwere. If Bickell could ever get going, I think that third line could start to get more minutes again.
Do you anticipate the Bulin-wall making a return to the 'Hawks this season, or has his shipped sailed?
Scott Powers (2:19 PM)
Sven, Bowman said Khabibulin could be back this season, but I'd be surprised if that happened. He would still be a few months away if he did come back.
Hello Scott going into the playoffs ,brandon saad being moved around from the 2nd line to the 3rd line will he have a permanent stop on a line i would think the 2nd line would benefit him more
Scott Powers (2:21 PM)
Dean, Quenneville will toy with the lines at any point of the season if he's unhappy with them. He obviously did that during the playoffs last season. It's probably unlikely at this point, but Saad could even end up on the top line again. I think he'll continue to bounce around from that second and third line until they find some consistency there.
Patrick Kane is almost always on the ice at the end of games when the Hawks are protecting a lead against a team with an empty net and extra attacker. Why? Though he's improved defensively, he's still not someone who you'd count for the PK let alone during one of the toughest and most important defensive situations in the game. Is he THAT much better at shooting at an open net than others? Is that skill really worth the defensive liability?
Scott Powers (2:23 PM)
Eric, I'm sure it is for his offensive ability. I'm sure his shooting accuracy is a bit higher than some players, but I get your point.
Brandon (Overland Park)
Looking at the game log, it seems the Hawks have a worse record since the Versteeg trade. Obviously, that can't be attributed to one player, but how do you think Stan and the rest of the brain trust are feeling right now about the Versteeg trade? Has he delivered what they've expected? If not, what needs to change?Thanks, Scott. You're a great American.
Scott Powers (2:25 PM)
Brandon, I would think the Blackhawks are still pleased with the Versteeg deal. They were able to get him at half the price and for a couple prospects that probably didn't have a future in the organization. Versteeg's play has fluctuated a bit, but he can play a number of roles and is a value for what they're paying him.
Does the break give Bickell the time he needs to recover from his injury - mentally and physically?
Scott Powers (2:27 PM)
Justin, I'm sure the Blackhawks are hoping the break does him well. I'm still not convinced he's the same player health-wise. He doesn't seem to have the same burst of speed he did before. Maybe he can rest that knee and rehab a bit more from the break. But more than anything, they need to find a way to get his confidence back. I'm sure the lack of minutes haven't helped.
Dan (Mt. Prospect)
Hi Scott,Why does Q continue to throw Handzus out with Kane and whomever when he clearly cannot keep up with these guys? It makes more sense if they are going to play him to do it on the 4th line where he can't hurt anyone.
Scott Powers (2:29 PM)
Dan, it's no secret Quenneville likes Handzus' game even if it doesn't always make sense. I also think he was sending a message to Pirri with the last game. I don't think he was happy with his play against the Kings. I'd be surprised if the Blackhawks make a trade for a second-line center before the deadline. If they don't, I still think Pirri is the best option there. There's a chance Teravainen gets a look there in the final few weeks. Kruger probably deserves a longer look there, but Quenneville prefers him in that defensive role on the fourth line.
In the 17 games since Corey Crawford returned to action, Antti Raanta has appeared in four games, including an abbreviated start in Calgary last week. How do you think Raanta is handling the small share of the workload?
Scott Powers (2:30 PM)
Jon, I think it's been an adjustment for him. He's certainly not used to this. He will get a lot more work after the break, so that should help him get into more of a groove.
Jim (Logan Square)
Scott. My take on the Hawks since the 1st of the year is they have been floating a bit. Not working as hard. Especially the Olympians. I look to see a more energetic team come March April. Your take?
Scott Powers (2:33 PM)
Jim, I could see that take earlier in January, but they seem to be playing much better in the past week. I know the Kings and Ducks have been struggling, but they were both motivated to break their slumps against the Blackhawks and were on their home ices. To be 3-0-2 on this trip is a positive heading into this trip.
Philipchicagosportsfan (Corona, CA)
Do you think the games will have a heavy effect on the 10 Hawks participating, one which could effect their playoff run? Especially for those who make it all the way to the medal games!
Scott Powers (2:34 PM)
It's possible, but there are a number of teams with multiple Olympians. Quenneville will also be careful with their minutes when they get back. I think the key is coming out healthy from the break. The other stuff could go either way.
Do you see the Hawks trying to sign Saad to a long term contract before he becomes a restricted free agent?
Scott Powers (2:35 PM)
Doc, I would imagine that's on Bowman's agenda. Not sure if Saad would agree to that. He may wait and see where the cap goes before he signs a long-term deal. Bowman also obviously has to take care of Kane and Toews first.
Scott Powers (2:37 PM)
Sorry for having to cut this short. My flight leaves shortly. As always, please email at firstname.lastname@example.org if I didn't get to your question. Have a good weekend.