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 (2:30 PM)
Hi all, hope everyone is having a good Thursday. The Blackhawks were off from practice today. I should be here for 45 minutes or so. Let's get started.
Hi Scott,Why would Q play three of his slowest guys, Handzus, Rozsival, and Brookbank against one of the fastest teams in the NHL? And part two why suit up a guy if you are only going to play him 6-8 minutes at high altitude where everyone else is gassed?
Scott Powers (2:32 PM)
Dan, it's hard to understand Quenneville on playing Brookbank. Quenneville was asked about it, and he said Brookbank gave them some energy and insurance at defense. Like me, I doubt you believe that. I imagine when Hossa returns next week that Regin will be the odd man out. He hasn't shown much since he arrived and Quenneville is obviously displeased with him.
It seems the Hawks and Avs are on a collision course for the playoffs right now, doesn't it?
Scott Powers (2:34 PM)
David, it does, and I can't foresee either of them overtaking St. Louis at this point. Also as of now, the Avalanche would have the home-ice advantage in the first round.
moose (out west)
Will Kevin Hayes be signed once Boston College's year is over? If so, might we see him get a game with the big club? He's had a good year, what's the plan for him?
Scott Powers (2:36 PM)
Moose, yes, Hayes will be signed soon. He and Bowman said they expected him to sign after his season. I wouldn't think he gets a chance with the Blackhawks this season. He'll end up in Rockford. I would imagine he's a few years away from the NHL. Stephen Johns will also be signed after the season. Both have a lot of potential.
Brandon F. (Tucson, AZ)
Hawks shook up their lines again at the Avs. Was the success we saw with the newer lines against CBJ just a fluke?
Scott Powers (2:38 PM)
Brandon, I don't think the lines against Columbus or Buffalo were a fluke. There's definitely something there with Saad and Toews on a line. Quenneville switched the lines up yesterday to get them going offensively. He often does that when they're not producing. I would imagine Saad and Toews stick together and Kane remains on the second line going forward.
Brett P (Granger, IN)
I very much enjoy your work here Scott, especially your "Prospect Watch" articles! On that note, do you think that Morin will be given a better chance of sticking on the roster next season or do you feel he might be moved around the draft? Thanks!!
Scott Powers (2:40 PM)
Brett, thanks for the kind words. I just don't know where Morin fits in. From this year's team, you lose Handzus, who will likely be replaced by Teravainen. Ben Smith is a restricted free agent, but I expect they resign him. Other than that, everyone else is signed. If I had to guess the lines for next season, they would be Saad-Toews-Hossa, Sharp-Teravainen-Kane, Bickell-Shaw-Versteeg, Bollig-Kruger-Smith.
Are Q's hands tied by carrying 8 D-men? Any chance on an Icehog offensive player or two making a contribution or do they need for a player to be "injured" to make the trek to chicago?
Scott Powers (2:42 PM)
Mark, I do think Quenneville's options are limited with eight defensemen. It's strange because Bowman said they didn't want eight defensemen after putting Kostka on waivers and then he went out and traded for one. They'll be back to 13 forwards when Hossa returns. I don't think Morin or anyone else gets a chance unless someone is injured, especially since it looks like Teravainen will get a look.
Hey Scott,Where do you think Coach Q would spot Teravainen in the lineup if he were to play?
Scott Powers (2:43 PM)
Loags, I think the natural spot in the second-line center. I don't think Tervainen is far enough long as a defensive player to play as Quenneville would like him on the third line.
With Rundblad in a 3 man rotation for the last D, will we (Q) see enough of him to be confident in going forward? Seems like he's immediately the best D prospect in the organization and could be a very similar OFD to Leddy.
Scott Powers (2:46 PM)
Dan, I don't think Rundblad will play enough down the stretch to get a fair assessment of him this season. But because the Blackhawks gave up a second-round pick and Rundblad has a few years left on his contract, I would think he's in the mix for the future. The question is whether the Blackhawks deal someone else this summer or go with seven or eight defensemen again next season. Keith, Seabrook, Hjalmarsson, Oduya, Leddy and Rozsival are all already signed for next season. I would think Clendening is also getting closer to getting a shot in the NHL.
Brian Carlson (Long Grove, IL) [via mobile]
The hawks didnt make any moves at the trade deadline but our oppents did. The Blues acquired Ryan Miller and the kings acquired Gaborik. Do you think that the hawks should have tried to acquire a better goaltender giving up Crawford? Crawford is a solid goalie but he constantly fails to get shutouts and he hasn't proven to us that he can steal a game for us if we have an off night. Also do you think we should have tried to acquire Vanek, he will only be here for one year but with Miller going to the Blue's and we continue to lose to the Avs we could have gotten a good scoring forward and we could score more and let Crawford to continue his 2-3 goals against average. Do you think that Crawford is our weakest link on the team and we should have tried to trade him at the deadline for ryan miller or even Tim Thomas or Brodure?
Scott Powers (2:50 PM)
Brian, Crawford won't be the issue if the Blackhawks fail to win another Cup. I would have said early in the season there were some issues with him, but he's been consistently good in the past few months. He's playing at the level you need for a goaltender to be at to make a run in the playoffs. I would think more of the concern is whether guys like Bickell, Versteeg and Handzus can turn it on again come the playoffs.
Tom (Rolling Meadows, IL)
Speaking of Teravainen, any chance he will be seen in a Blackhawks sweater late in the year or in the playoffs?
Scott Powers (2:51 PM)
Tom, it appears Teravainen is going to come over. It just depends on when his playoffs in Finland are complete. It could be as early as Sunday or as late as late April.
How is Hossa coming along? Anything that could linger into the start of the playoffs?
Scott Powers (2:52 PM)
Don, the Blackhawks have made it sound as Hossa is feeling pretty good as of late. He was supposed to get back on the ice yesterday and could be in games next week. I don't know exactly where his injury stands. They don't give up much info. But considering his recent history with injuries, I would think there has to be some concern in the playoffs.
so kane and toews are both able to sign this offseason is that the number one priority this off season? Also what kind of numbers do you think they get? thanks
Scott Powers (2:55 PM)
Jerry, yes, they can begin negotiating in July. I haven't looked a whole lot into the numbers yet, but I would imagine they want to be paid like top-10 players. I would think they'd get at least $8-9 million each.
Fernando Monge (Chicago, IL)
I would like to know if you foresee Ben Smith's role being re-looked at since that line needs better chances at the opposing net.
Scott Powers (2:57 PM)
Fernando, I think Smith remains where he is. Quenneville likes the fact he's been able to throw out that same line for much of the season. Smith has proven to be defensively responsible and does have some offensive kill. He's made some real impressive one-on-one plays this season. The fourth line has pretty much become the third line as far as minutes go this season.
Have read in a few different spots taht Kaner might be hungover from the Cup run, Olympic pressure and the death of his grandfather. True? He doesn't seem to have that snap in his step, last night's goal notwithstanding.
Scott Powers (2:59 PM)
Kevin, I'm sure it all has had some effect on him, but I thought he was good last night and Buffalo as well. He scored a highlight goal in both games and is creating chances. I also think he's had to adjust to playing with Sharp again and Handzus just doesn't stay up in the play with him.
Scott, big HAWKS Fan, but Colorado and St. Louis will be tough to overhaul in the playoffs, our goalie play is not what we had last year. I might have a solution to Patrick Kane's whitewash on breakaways and shootouts...he uses White tape at the blade and I wonder if he used Black tape it would hide the puck better? I think the goalies can see the puck good on his stick during the breakaways.
Scott Powers (3:01 PM)
John, I don't know all about the tape, but Kane has finished on breakaways the last two games. As for the goalie play, I really think Crawford is playing well since coming back from injury in January. I don't think he'll be the issue in the playoffs. Ultimately if they play Colorado, they need to figure out a way to beat Varlamov. He stopped .960 percent of the shots he saw in five games.
moose (out west)
How likely is Versteeg to be moved in the summer. He hasn't done much (I know he has the lingering knee issue), but his contract is pretty easy to move and there are a lot of guys knocking on the door (Morin being the most obvious for his slot). Thoughts?
Scott Powers (3:04 PM)
Moose, I can't see them trading Versteeg. They made the move knowing he'd be there for a few seasons. I'd have to look into it, but I also would be surprised if Florida still picks up the other $2 million of his contract if he's traded elsewhere. I think this offseason will be big for him. He didn't give himself enough time coming off the knee injury last year. I think he comes back stronger next season.
Scott, are you feeling that the rest of the league has (either somewhat or mostly) caught up to the Hawks in terms of speed, skating ability and, ultimately, success? It sure seems that way. I'm not sure I'd favor the Hawks, much as I'd want to, as most likely to emerge from the WC. Thoughts?
Scott Powers (3:09 PM)
Paulika, I think it's partly other teams have improved, but also the Blackhawks aren't the same team as last year. Their offense has been inconsistent the last month. They seem to make more costly errors on the defensive end. They're not winning overtime and shootouts as they did last season. I think for the Blackhawks to compete for another Cup they need some players like Bickell, Versteeg and Handzus to step up in the playoffs. The consistent play hasn't been there for them.
Scott, I can't wait to see Teravainen get over here. I love that he's the 2nd line center of the future but if he doesn't get many regular season games in and is on the playoff roster, do you still think that's the right spot for him? I would like to see some size around him in the playoffs so his confidence isn't destroyed right out of the gate. Bickell is horrible this year but he's a playoff guy so don't you think it would make sense to have him on his line? Thanks as always!
Scott Powers (3:12 PM)
Kevin, the playoff type game does often fit Bickell's style. It's a big slower and more physical. If he shows early on he can be a factor in such games again, I would assume he gets moved up again. As much as we talk about Teravainen playing that second-line center role, I don't know if it'll be this season. He may get a chance there this season, but Quenneville will only go with him if he's sure he's capable of handling it. Playoff hockey isn't the time to be experimenting. There's even a chance Teravainen's Finland season won't be complete until April, and he doesn't fit into the picture.
Is Bickell getting traded after the season? If so, what do the Blackhawks get for him?
Scott Powers (3:13 PM)
Peter, Bickell is not getting traded. I get that he's been disappointing this season, but I don't think you can fairly assess him until he has an offseason to rehab his knee. Also, I don't think there would be many teams interesting in acquiring his contract right now.
McBain (Los Angeles)
Hi Scott, do you truly believe Q when he claims to not be worried that his team can't beat the Avs with Varlamov in net? I know the playoffs are a different animal than the regular season. But I'm now "cautiously pessimistic" about playing Colo. in a series, rather than cautiously optimistic before last night's game.
Scott Powers (3:15 PM)
McBain, Quenneville isn't the type of coach who is going to be speak honestly even if he did believe Varlamov had their number. I do think there's a cause for concern considering he's stopped 96 percent of the shots he's seen against the Blackhawks this season.
Hi Scott, Great job you're doing. Can we officially call Bickell and huge disappointment now? I was his biggest fan last year. I thought he was the linchpin of the Cup run. This year...what a tremendous (choose your adjective). Do you really think he can turn it on during the playoffs?
Scott Powers (3:16 PM)
Heinrich, Bickell needs an offseason to get his knee right. If he performs the same next year, you can label him that. Also if he comes to play in the playoffs and gives you anything like he did last season, I think all can be forgiven for a so-so regular season.
Hi Scott...since Christmas, Zus has played in 23 games and has NO goals, 2 assists and is a -5 playing next to 2 of the best offensive players in the league...how is he our 2nd line centre? In games this year without Handzus the Hawks are 13-3-1, with Handzus we have a 21-20 win/loss record...he isn't getting the job done...how can Q continue to justify his presence in the lineup and Jeremy Morin sitting in Rockford?
Scott Powers (3:20 PM)
Gonzalo, Quenneville likes Handzus because he's defensive responsible. He's admitted Handzus hasn't been good offensively. Beside that, Quenneville doesn't feel like he has any other options there. He apparently doesn't think much of Regin. He prefers Kruger on that fourth line. As for Morin, they play different positions. It's not as if Morin would be the second-line center if he came up. He does deserve a shot in the NHL now, but it wouldn't be instead of Handzus on the second line.
Chris (San Diego)
Frustrating game last night, thought the Hawks played well. Gotta say this falls directly on Coach Q. Starting your back-up goalie who hasn't played in some time in a key game, very questionable. Give him a start over the weekend or in a back-to back situation. Also dressing an extra defensemen, Brookbank and putting him up front?? This inevitably leads to double-shifting Kane and not rolling four lines like they should be doing to keep everybody fresh. Someone in the media needs to start questioning some of these decisions and stop giving Q the benefit of the doubt. Scott?
Scott Powers (3:22 PM)
Chris, I would agree. There were some strange choices last night. They obviously still lost, but it could have blown up quickly with Raanta in net. The Brookbank decision also was unexpected.
jim burbank [via mobile]
Great work Scott. My question or questions are: Tazer said "we now know we need to take every game opponent serious:. Shouldnt that be a given? From day 1? Why does it seem few on this roster (Sharps, Kanes, Versteegs, BICKELLS,) take not just one game but many games off? Sharp has been a non factor since few games before Olympics, Kane too. All they have to do is look around rest of league teams have caught up
Scott Powers (3:25 PM)
Jim, I don't think they purposely take games off. I know some of the Olympic players said they struggled with energy coming back. I agree with you on Versteeg and Bickell struggling with consistency. But I still thought Sharp and Kane have been creating quality chances. Sharp obviously hasn't had the production lately.
Scott Powers (3:26 PM)
Thanks again for all the questions this week. I apologize if I missed any. Please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll be sure to get back to you with an answer. Have a good weekend.