Welcome to ESPNChicago.com! On Wednesday, Chicago Blackhawks reporter Scott Powers stops by to chat.
Powers covers the Blackhawks for both ESPN Radio 1000 and ESPNChicago.com.
Send your questions now and join the chat Wednesday at noon CT/1 p.m. ET!
Scott Powers (1:01 PM)
Hi all, hope everyone is having a good Wednesday. Another weeks goes by, and the Blackhawks' points streak continues. It's really something. Anyway, I'll be here for an hour or so to answer your questions the best I can.
Scott,Last time the Hawks looked this good, they had to dump half the team the next season. Are the Hawks in a good spot moving forward with regard to the salary cap in the coming seasons?
Scott Powers (1:05 PM)
Curt, the Blackhawks will be in good shape financially next season and should be able to retain nearly everyone and even sign a few guys if they want. The nice thing for them is they already have a number of their top players signed with long-term deals, and they also have a lot of younger guys in the mix and they don't require large salaries yet.
Whats up with Sharp? He has had shots. Do you think he is on the decline?
Scott Powers (1:07 PM)
Kranz, I don't think there's a problem with Sharp. He's still shooting and creating chances. His numbers have been good. He's tied for third on the team for points. I think he's scoring numbers will add up eventually. I think you could be concerned if his shot numbers were down or he wasn't helping out in other ways.
You wrote a column about Bicks love for hitting He has been criticized in the past for not checking enough. Do you think he can use his size more along the boards?
Scott Powers (1:10 PM)
Russ, sure, he could do it more, but it's also about opportunities. I talked to him a few weeks ago about hitting more, and he said it's often hard because the Blackhawks have the puck so often. There's just not a lot of chances there. He definitely seems like he'd like to hit someone whenever he could.
How good can Saad become? Is he big enough to be a top ten power forward in the NHL.
Scott Powers (1:12 PM)
RK, it's hard to say where his potential is yet. But you can tell he's getting more confident, and he's showing off more of his skills. I know Toews and Hossa rave about his ability to out-muscle opponents for the puck. I was impressed yesterday with his two passes and his vision on them. He does seem to have a lot of upside if he keeps that up.
Michael G. (Villa Park)
When do we get to know if the cap numbers for the next year go up or down? With this new CBA, what's to be expected and what does that mean for the Blackhawks?
Scott Powers (1:15 PM)
Michael, the cap next year is dropping to $64.3 million. The Blackhawks will be under that to start the offseason. They'll be around $4 million under, but they do have a some unrestricted free agents (Stalberg, Bickell, etc.) they'll have to decide on.
Mike (The Win Column )
SO while everyone is enjoying this monster streak, me included, I want to look forward as well. Although this team seems to be as close to perfect as is, do you see the Hawks looking to make any moves by the deadline to push them over the top for the playoffs?
Scott Powers (1:17 PM)
Mike, Stan Bowman recently told ESPN's Pierre LeBrun the Blackhawks were mostly looking for another experienced center, mostly likely to add to their depth there in the third and fourth lines. Outside of that, I'm sure Bowman has his eyes open if something good comes about, but there doesn't appear to be many holes with this team.
Do you think they are planning on keeping carcillo on the 4th line? Saad is doing so well on the 1st line.
Scott Powers (1:19 PM)
Ryan, yeah, I think Saad will stay on the first line. Quenneville said the other day he liked using Carcillo and Saad on the top line, but he felt it was better if they played more consistently with a specific line. I think Saad's play lately will secure his spot there.
Scott,Can I watch the streak continue at the Pepsi Center on Friday? Also, 2:1 Hawks fans at this game?
Scott Powers (1:20 PM)
Dan, I'm out of the predicting business. There have been a couple games now where I thought the Blackhawks were going to lose in regulation, but was proven wrong. The smart money would be on the Blackhawks continuing it, though. Enjoy yourself.
Hey Scott,I was hoping for an honest opinion from you about Carcillo and Bollig. They were the only guys on the team with a net minus last night, they don't even really provide a presence around the net (Shaw and Bickell have of late), and in my opinion they are holding back guys like Hayes or Morin that could potentially use some 4th line seasoning. I know there isn't much to complain about in a season like this, but my only qualm with Q is his love for complete meatheads.
Scott Powers (1:23 PM)
Chris, Quenneville likes having that physical player out there. It's just his preference, and the obviously don't possess a lot of them. I think it'll be interesting to see how much time Bollig and Mayers get down the line when the roster is completely healthy. I assume that fourth line will consistently be Frolik, Kruger and Carcillo.
Everett W (Dallas, TX)
With so many guys playing well on this team, will the Blackhawks have an MVP candidate? Who is it?
Scott Powers (1:26 PM)
Everett, the Blackhawks seem too balanced for an MVP candidate. Kane is leading the team in assists and goals, but he's still nearly 10 points away from Crosby. I think what makes the Blackhawks so good -- their depth and balance -- also doesn't set them up for candidate there.
Robert (San Antonio)
Will Frolik be back in the lineup tonight?
Scott Powers (1:28 PM)
Robert, Frolik was considered questionable for today. The team didn't have a morning skate, so there won't be a definitive answer until around 5 p.m.
Eric (South Elgin)
Crawford's value has never been higher. Given his injuries of late do you think the hawks would benefit of trying to sell high on him come trade deadline?
Scott Powers (1:30 PM)
Eric, no, Crawford has been one of the main reasons for why the Blackhawks have succeeded this season. As good as Emery has been, I think your chance of winning a Stanley Cup lies on Crawford's play. I don't sense the injuries are a concern, and he's bounced back both times. The second one doesn't sound like it was a concussion either.
Renoe (Dallas, TX)
If you had to choose one to resign, would you want Stalberg's speed or Bickell's size? Stalberg seems like the more difficult to replace of the two. What are your thoughts?
Scott Powers (1:32 PM)
Renoe, I would have said Stalberg before the season, but Bickell has impressed me throughout the year. He's becoming a well-rounded player, and he's had some nice shots and passes as of late. If the Blackhawks can keep that third line together, I think that would benefit them greatly in future years.
Crawford didn't look his usual self at times last night, do we see Emery tonight and Friday?
Scott Powers (1:34 PM)
Nate, I would assume Emery tonight, but Crawford on Friday. Crawford was a bit off last night, but I wouldn't read too much into it. One game isn't a trend. I think Quenneville still sees Crawford as the No. 1 guy.
How do you see Montador fitting into the mix when he comes back? The Hawks have had such good success rotating the last two defensive players game to game and I've been happy with all their play.
Scott Powers (1:35 PM)
Dan, I'd be surprised if Montador was added to the lineup and not waived. I don't think there's a place for him on this team right now.
Greg (Oak Forest)
I've heard from a few folks this past week that their biggest fear at this point is a letdown in the playoffs after this great start. I've been trying to keep the attitude to not think about the playoffs until we get there and enjoy the ride for now. But at what point do the Blackhawks let off the gas pedal? I'd hate to see them wear themselves out chasing after records.
Scott Powers (1:38 PM)
Greg, I don't sense they're chasing the record. I think they're enjoying it now, but they're playing the same way and with the same mindset. I think one of the greatest assets for the Blackhawks is their depth, which has allowed Quenneville to cut down on minutes this season and should allow them to be in a better position than some teams come the playoffs. They may eventually lose a few games, but I wouldn't be too worried about them hitting a wall.
Your opinion on the Shootouts to end a game? Would love to see something like 3-on-3's till someone scores.
Scott Powers (1:40 PM)
Ken, it's a matter of time. The shootouts aren't the perfect answer, but if there's going to be a winner instead of ending in draws they need it to be finished in somewhat of a timely manner. They can't have five-hour games and waiting for someone to score. There are too many games in the regular season for that.
Could you see Montador getting traded to a team in need of defense rather than waived?
Scott Powers (1:41 PM)
Possibly, I just don't know what sort of takers there would be. He's making a good deal of money and has a few years left on his contract, and he hasn't exactly been on the ice a lot in the past few years.
OJ Da Jukesman (Hyde Park)
If the Blackhawks clinch a playoff spot early, any chance Q gives some of the main guys extra rest?
Scott Powers (1:43 PM)
That's possible, but I think Quenneville has been watchful of minutes so far this year. He's done a pretty good job with that.
Pow Pow,What, if anything, have the Hawks done to help turn that PP around?
Scott Powers (1:44 PM)
Ryan, it seems like the last few games they've been getting more shots on net from the point on the power play. It's creating more chances for rebounds.
Not being able to see any of the younger Hawks not on the current roster do you see any ready or close to being ready for the NHL club in the not to distant future to help out if needed?
Scott Powers (1:46 PM)
Bob, the Blackhawks have some skilled forwards in Rockford. The problem is the Blackhawks just don't need them at this point. Brandon Pirri, Ben Smith, Jeremy Morin and Jimmy Hayes are among the players who could get called up if the Blackhawks need someone.
How do you think not playing any eastern conference teams affects the legitimacy of the streak and come playoff time if the Hawks make the finals?
Scott Powers (1:48 PM)
Carlos, it's difficult to say. Obviously, there are some good teams in the Eastern Conference that would give the Blackhawks a run for their money, but this schedule is also so compact that adds to the validity of what they've done. Their schedule wasn't designed for this sort of success. I think you can argue both points.
John (Arlington Heights)
How are the Hawks in good shape cap wise next year if they already have $60 million of the $64 million cap tied up in 18 players. Even assuming they carry only 22 on the roster, that leaves $4 million for 4 spots. Leddy and Kruger are restricted free agents who will get raises for the Hawks to keep them. That doesn't include keeping unrestricted free agents Stalberg and Bickell. I don't see how the Hawks can keep Leddy, Kruger, Stalberg and Bickell (and the rest of the players already under contract for next year) unless they dump Olesz's $3.125 million salary on someone else (and how are they going to do that).
Scott Powers (1:53 PM)
John, you're right. They'll have to make some tough decisions. I was just saying they were in good shape in that they don't have to cut salaries to get under the cap as some teams will have to do. Bowman talked before the season about that respect. I know I wrote it'd be smart to keep Bickell and Stalberg together, but it's probably not realistic. They do have some younger forwards ready to make that jump, and I could see some of them filling in those spots.
Doug (St. Louis)
Scott, the only complaint I have on the 'Hawks right now is their propensity for giving up goals in the 3rd period. They were controlling the game for the most part last night and then give up 2 in the 3rd. Any ideas on why this is becoming a reoccuring theme, and does it spell disaster come playoff time?
Scott Powers (1:56 PM)
Doug, Quenneville mentioned it last night and wasn't happy with their play in the third period. They seem to be less aggressive in the final period. They have obviously scored in some clutch situations and surged ahead in the third period, too. I'm not sure it's a concern yet, but something to keep an eye on.
Tyler (Crystal Lake)
Am I the only Hawks fan that still think we could use a more offensive minded second line center?
Scott Powers (1:59 PM)
Tyler, I think your concern of Bolland is shared by many fans. I know Quenneville likes his physical ability alongside Kane and Sharp. He's never been great at faceoffs, but his numbers have dropped this year. He doesn't have great offensive numbers, but he's been pretty accurate. I think his play is something to watch in the next few weeks with him coming off the injury and missing five games. Maybe something we can discuss again in the future.
Scott Powers (2:00 PM)
Everyone, thanks again for all your questions. I'm sorry if I didn't get to you. As always, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet me at espnchihawks or espnchipowers. Take care