Chat with Scott Powers
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 (12:59 PM)
Good afternoon, everyone. I'll be here for about an hour or so to answer questions. It feels strange we only have nine games left in the regular season.
Did Sharpie re-injure is shoulder last night? He seemed to be grimacing quite a bit, plus didn't see him on the ice after the win.
Scott Powers (1:01 PM)
Adam, Sharp said it was a stinger and he felt fine afterward. It doesn't appear to be anything to worry about at least right now. They'll be at back practice tomorrow and will keep an eye out for it.
Saad is becoming one of my favorite players on the Hawks to watch. When is his contract up? If he keeps this going he may require a nice pay increase in the future.
Scott Powers (1:03 PM)
Patrick, Saad isn't a restricted free agent until after the 2014-2015 season. I would imagine the Blackhawks would try to lock him up long-term before then. They will also have to deal with Kane's and Toews' contracts ending in 2015.
Jesse Jones (Champaign, IL)
How important is Patrick Sharp's return to the ice for the Blackhawks?
Scott Powers (1:05 PM)
Jesse, I think it's key, but also Hossa's return. The Blackhawks still haven't lost in regulation with Hossa and Sharp in the lineup. They're both key to their respective lines, but also special teams play.
any talk about the non-goal in the first?
Scott Powers (1:06 PM)
Russ, I think if the Blackhawks had lost or the game had gone into overtime there would have been more talk about it. Ultimately, it didn't play a factor in the outcome.
Jeff (San Clemente, CA)
When Bolland returns from injury who's the odd man out at center? Does Kruger drop to the 4th line and Shaw move to wing?
Scott Powers (1:09 PM)
Jeff, they have some options. Handzus played on the wing along with Kruger at first. Shaw also has a wing background. I think wherever Handzus is played he'll take faceoffs. Sharp could also take faceoffs on that second line if Bolland is placed there again. Sharp was solid on faceoffs last night.
Dustin C (Champaign)
If you're Coach Q, who do you pick as your starting goalie for the rest of the season? Do you think we'll be able to keep Crawford and Emery through next season?
Scott Powers (1:11 PM)
Dustin, this is obviously the major question right now. Quenneville made it sound like Crawford was his guy, but he's now given Emery more chances and Emery has proven himself, too. I think Quenneville will continue to go back and forth for the next few weeks and then pick whoever is hottest. Emery is a free agent after this season and will probably have a number of suitors now. I think it'll be too costly for the Blackhawks to keep him.
Do you see a line of 20-19-88 as a sign of things to come for the playoffs?
Scott Powers (1:13 PM)
Michael, I think the line of Hossa-Toews-Saad will continue. It's been one of the few consistencies of the season. I think Sharp and Kane are good together, too. Bolland may remain there on the second line, but there are other options if Quenneville decides to use them.
Joe (West Town)
Would you say injuries have led to Dave Bolland's poor season or are there other contributing factors?
Scott Powers (1:17 PM)
Joe, I don't think injuries have helped, but his numbers aren't that far off from his past years. I think he's under more of a microscope this season because he was moved on that second line. His faceoff percentage has also dipped from recent years.
Hugh Agnus (Chicago)
Scott, does it really matter who is in net come playoff time? Let's be honest both of them are going to choke 2nd round.
Scott Powers (1:20 PM)
Hugh, it might not matter who is net, but I wouldn't say that's because both are going to choke. Both have shown to be consistent enough throughout the regular season that both could be capable of helping the Blackhawks to a playoff run. The Blackhawks defense has been stellar, too, and has limited the amount of shots on goal they've been seeing. That's been key for Crawford and Emery, too.
That third line was rolling with Shaw on it. Do you think Q will keep the lines as is?
Scott Powers (1:22 PM)
Ryan, he's been bouncing Shaw around a bit. Shaw has played well in recent games with the fourth line. I think it depends on where Quenneville puts Bolland back. It could be Bolland on that second line, Shaw on the third and Kruger and Handzus on the fourth as it was a few weeks ago. Shaw could also end up on the fourth line with Kruger and Handzus sticking with the third.
Hi Scott, any talk from Q about Handzus moving up to the 2nd line to provide better face-offs and net presence for Kaner and Sharpie?
Scott Powers (1:25 PM)
Dan, there hasn't been talk of it yet. Sharp was taking faceoffs yesterday. Maybe that's a possibility going forward if Bolland returns there. Handzus could remain on that third line, and Shaw to the fourth with Kruger.
Mike Denver [via mobile]
Did we really need Handzus?
Scott Powers (1:26 PM)
Mike, I think Handzus' faceoff ability was a good enough reason to bring him in. Bolland, Shaw and Kruger haven't been great in that area.
Scott Powers (1:27 PM)
Tim, I doubt it, but it's still too early to tell.
Scott, how much of a typical practice is dedicated to special teams? Any sense of urgency in getting the power play to produce at better than the bottom third of the league?
Scott Powers (1:29 PM)
Jay, I would say 15-20 minutes are dedicated to special teams. Quenneville is asked about the power play all the time, and he keeps on saying he's pleased with it despite the lack of production. I'm curious to see if having Hossa and Sharp back will help it.
Any chance we see Leddy bumped up to the first PP unit? It's becoming more and more obvious that he's our best point man in terms of entry and getting shots on net.
Scott Powers (1:30 PM)
There's a chance of that. Leddy has definitely proven he's capable of getting off some quality shots. I think he created a few good chances last night.
Isn't Bolland a better 3C than 2C? What about Handzus centering the Sharp-Kane line?
Scott Powers (1:32 PM)
Ryan, it'll be interesting to see what Quenneville does when he has a full lineup for once. There's a chance Bolland stays on the second line, and Sharp takes the faceoffs, and Handzus remains on the third line so he can take faceoffs there. I think Handzus could play on the second line if needed, though.
Rob (schaumburg, il)
With the D playing so well and the goalie only facing about 25 shots per game do you think it really matters who is in net?
Scott Powers (1:34 PM)
Rob, it might not. Crawford could have very well had a shutout last night, too. The Blackhawks defense isn't allowing opponents many chances, and it's made life easier on Crawford and Emery.
Is Stahlberg likely gone at the end of the season?
Scott Powers (1:35 PM)
Eric, I think the Blackhawks have a couple of tough decisions ahead of them. Stalberg's asking price may be too high. Plus, the Hawks have some prospects who should be ready for the jump next season.
Denver [via mobile]
Will Emerys play hurt Crawfords confidence?
Scott Powers (1:36 PM)
I don't think so. Crawford should be back in next this weekend, so he'll get his chance again. Crawford's play has been solid, too. I think both guys have a lot of confidence right now.
Matt (Troy, MI)
Hey Scott. I like Carcillo's game as long as he's not taking stupid penalties. He seems to have his legs back and is playing smart; do you see him as a regular in the playoff roster or a depth guy to spell someone potentially not playing well?
Scott Powers (1:40 PM)
Matt, Carcillo dropped a few pounds in the past month, and I think you can see it in his play. He said he feels lighter, too. I still don't know if he'll be a regular rotation player, probably more likely a depth guy.
Couldnt we see sharp back at center? like during the playoffs of the cup run? kind of like is a center? couldnt he be our solution to second line center?
Scott Powers (1:41 PM)
Paul, I think part of it there are so many centers on the roster now. You have Toews, Bolland, Shaw, Kruger and Handzus, and I think they'll all remain playing. Bolland could be on the second line, and Sharp takes the faceoffs.
Zeus was brought in for Faceoff's and has handled that with 61% wins...even added an assist, which is half of what he accomplished in SJ for 28 games. Any chance Q starts bringing him in for those much needed faceoffs when Toews is tired at the end of the game and in playoffs?
Scott Powers (1:42 PM)
Gibby, I still like your chances whenever Toews is there. But you could see Handzus brought in to replace someone else on a key faceoff.
Scott, It seems like Marcus Kruger has been a reallly great role player for the Hawks this season and seems to be successful in no matter what role the Hawks ask him to play. It also seems as of the more recent games he and the line he has played on have been dominate with puck posession.
Scott Powers (1:44 PM)
Jonathan, Kruger has been consistent most of the season. Whether he's been on the second or fourth line or penalty kill, he's been able to contribute. He's still only 22, too.
Chuck (lake zurich)
any changes with the power play this season? this could hurt them in the playoffs. Their current "system" on the PP is not working.
Scott Powers (1:46 PM)
Chuck, yeah, the power play has to be a concern. I think there's some tinkering being done, but nothing has produced results yet. Having Hossa and Sharp back should help it in some way. Let's see how it is in the next few games with them back.
Besides Stalberg, who else contract ends after this week? UFA/RFA
Scott Powers (1:50 PM)
The unrestricted free agents are Handzus, Stalberg, Bickell, Mayers, Rozsival and Emery after this season. The restricted free agents are Kruger and Leddy.
I feel Saad's persistence and net-presence has a big role to play in the success of the first line, maybe they should add someone similar like a Kruger or Shaw even Frolik in the 2nd line to add to their production? thoughts?
Scott Powers (1:52 PM)
Bryan, Kane and Sharp are going to remain on the second line. Bolland may stay there, too. It was a productive line when all three were healthy. Quenneville may attempt that again.
Robert (San Antonio)
The Hawks D has really improved since the pairings were shaken up. Do you expect that Q will keep them as they are through the playoffs or will Keith and Seabrook get paired again against a top opponent?
Scott Powers (1:53 PM)
Robert, Quenneville likes to go with what's working. Since mixing up the pairings, they've played well. If that remains the same over the next few weeks, I think he goes into the playoffs with the current pairings.
Eric L (Newport, CA)
Scott, who do you think the hawks call up for the extended playoff roster, Hayes I would imagine would be at the top of the list, but who else do you think?
Scott Powers (1:55 PM)
Eric, I could see Hayes, maybe Morin. Olesz has played well lately. Montador could be called up to provide some more defensive depth. Bowman talked recently about how he liked the way Olesz and Montador had been playing.
Scott Powers (1:56 PM)
John, I would agree that resigning the RFAs, Kruger and Leddy, would be the priority.
brent (toronto, canada)
Don't you think Chi can start reducing minutes for Toews etc now that worst they can get is 2nd place?
Scott Powers (1:58 PM)
Brent, Quenneville has been pretty good at watching everyone's minutes this year. I think once they secure the division that he may be more mindful of that. I don't think it's time to let up just yet, though.
Scott Powers (2:00 PM)
Thanks again for all the questions. I'm sorry I couldn't get to all of them. As always, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Have a good day.