It’s a playoff edition of Mailbag Monday. Isn’t everything from here on out a “playoff edition?” Let’s get to it.
Q: Ok, Jesse, you've had great insight into the Hawks all season, so now I just need one more prediction: Who's your pick for team MVP for this upcoming post-season? Who do you think is going to play the biggest role in carrying us as far as possible? -- Jenna (Rockford, Ill.)
A: I’ll pick Duncan Keith on defense and Marian Hossa on offense. The reason I pick those two is there really should not be a style of play they can’t quickly adjust to. Keith will have to pick up for Dustin Byfuglien when the inexperience catches up and Hossa will have to be a force in all areas. Jonathan Toews is an obvious choice as well for the intangibles and little things he contributes, but I’ll go with one of those first two.
Q: Jesse, what are the chances of the Blackhawks seeing Dan Ellis in this series? What will line four look like to start the series? -- Jimmy McErlean (Oak Forest, Ill.)
A: If we do, it probably means the Hawks are doing well. Ellis is clearly the back-up. He didn’t play in any games in April and Pekka Rinne has had the better season. Even before the Hawks take the ice for preparations for Friday, I don’t see how the fourth line changes from what it’s been: Fraser, Eager, and Kopecky. Fraser’s rise has been extraordinary. Joel Quenneville’s decision to play Bryan Bickell over Adam Burish on Sunday tells you all you need to know about his feelings toward #37. Clearly, if all are healthy, he is the odd man out.
Q: Jesse, in your opinion does Kim Johnsson get back at all this year? -- Jim Lurgio (Frankfort, Ill.)
A: If my choices are between ‘Yes’ or ‘No’, then I’ll go with no. I’ve seen no indication that he is close to returning. They’ve stopped calling him day-to-day and he isn’t around the team much. Having said that, if he wakes up one day feeling better and gets back on the ice, that changes things. Until that happens I don’t see him helping very soon or at all.
Q: There are reports that Soupy could be ready for the first round. Should us Hawks fans get excited? -- Alex (Palatine, Ill.)
A: I think there’s cause for excitement because he’s begun skating. Everything else can’t be too far away. It helps that they are starting the series a couple days later than we all thought so that gives him extra time. I’d still say round two is more likely, but as this week moves along we will know a whole lot more.