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 (2:31 PM)
Hello all, hope everyone is having a good Thursday. I'm still at the United Center after practice, so I'll probably just do 30 or so minutes today.
Does Teravainen's recent play at the WJC coupled with the Hawks' current woes at second line center guarantee Teravianen will be here in April or are the Hawks going to look at a trade as a short term fix?
Scott Powers (2:35 PM)
Brad, I'm not positive about Teravaiven. I've been told there's a chance he could be in Chicago or play in the World Junior Championships after his season in Finland. I would assume if there's a need that he'll more likely be in Chicago. I also think people should be careful on pinning their hopes of him being the differece in the playoffs as the second-line center. He's still young, and it's a great jump in play coming from Finland. I think his upside is great, but it's a lot to throw a 19-year-old into a playoff game.
It's obvious that Q has "his guys" of which Handzus is one of. Can Pirri really be that much worse than Handzus? And it never appears that Q is interested in giving young players time to develop - Morin, Pirri, Hayes, etc. He expects them to come in and make an impact above what may be reasonable for young players. Will that drive guys like Pirri and Morin away?
Scott Powers (2:38 PM)
Skip, Quenneville doesn't have anything against young players - see Saad, Shaw, etc. -- he just prefers one with their defensive game in place. Pirri and Morin are certainly more offensive players. Pirri's defensive game was less noticeable when he was on the second line, but once Quenneville bumped him to the third his situation went bad. I still think we'll see both up again in Chicago this season. And as much as Morin and Pirri probably would love playing somewhere else now, they're still going to be restricted free agents after this season and will likely be resigned.
At this point is the Hawks management just praying that Bickell is the new Bolland: a less than stellar regular season and then Mr. Clutch in the playoffs??
Scott Powers (2:41 PM)
The Blackhawks paid Bickell to be more than just a playoff performer. He was paid to be a top-6 player at $4 million a season. I also think it's unrealistic to assume he's just going to turn it on in the playoffs. The hope has to be he gets himself right during the Olympic break and comes back a more consistent player those last few months.
Is it me or did the Hawks look much better with Pirri and Morin in place of Handzus and Bickell? I know its becoming popular to trash Zus and Bicks during their slump but the Hawks seemed to have a bit more spark with the younger guys
Scott Powers (2:44 PM)
Avi, I know a lot of people would like that, but it's not as if Quenneville is going to bench Handzus and Bickell and promote Pirri and Morin. I could see Pirri getting another chance after the Olympic break to help spell Handzus, but it'll probably take an injury for Morin to get another consistent shot.
So im sure this is the big question of the day, but how does Coach Q get the 3rd line back to playing well or has the Kruger line become more of the 3rd line?
Scott Powers (2:46 PM)
Paul, I thought the third line looked better early on the other night. Bickell and Versteeg seemed to have some jump. I think part of getting them going again is giving them consistent minutes. Quenneville lost faith in them and stopped using them against the Avalanche. I think Bickell and Versteeg will eventually get back on track. I think you have to worry about Handzus with a full season plus the Olympics.
Ty (San Francisco )
We spoke last chat when Craw was 0-3 since return and you said he wasnt playing bad, the wins just were not coming - now he is 0-5 or 0-6 since coming back - i do not care if our hawks arent playing great around him, fact is Aanti has won his two games in between... Top-end goalies, the ones that make $6M a year simply do not have Craw's bottom tier save stats and oh btw, our defense makes goalies look better than they really are...
Scott Powers (2:51 PM)
Ty, wins aren't the best stastistic to value a goaltender. It's the same as baseball. In hockey, it's often about save percentage to judge a goaltender. Crawford and Raanta have actually been pretty similar when you evaluate them based on that. Lately, though, Crawford's numbers have actually been better than Raanta. I also still think Crawford gives them the best chance to win.
Last year, the hawks were having trouble with shootouts/faceoffs which was part of why they traded for Handzus. This year the PK seems to be the achilles heel of the team. What kind of 3rd/4th line depth players do you think the Hawks could reasonably trade for to help out with the PK.
Scott Powers (2:54 PM)
Arpan, I don't foresee any trades. There's just not a lot of cap space now, and they need that extra room in case of injuries and moving guys up. The PK's numbers have been better lately. I don't think that's been the issue as of late.
Are all the overtime/shootout losses a concern come playoff time?
Scott Powers (2:56 PM)
Shawn, I think they're a concern in the fact the Blackhawks are losing points and could need them for playoffs seeding. As for the actual playoffs, there are no shootouts, so that doesn't matter. I do think the overtime lossess have to be a concern. They're getting outplayed in 4-on-4 hockey, and that could be a deciding factor in the playoffs.
Is this the year that Stan trades for a legitimate 2nd line center? Love the team, but there are struggles with Handzus.
Scott Powers (2:58 PM)
Eric, don't expect a trade. I think Pirri could still get a shot later this year again, and Teravainen is likely the second-line center of the future. He could come into play this year or next season.
John (OC, CA)
Scott, Thanks for the great work. Who would don the "A" after Seabs?
Scott Powers (2:58 PM)
John, maybe Hossa, not sure.
Jay (Charlotte) [via mobile]
With the way Handzus is playing this year, is there any reason to being him back next year?
Scott Powers (2:59 PM)
Jay, no, I don't think there's any chance he'll be back next season.
Michael (LaSalle, IL)
Do you think Raanta could get up to the same percentage of starts that Ray Emery got last year? Raanta keeps winning & I feel a lot of Crawford's success from last year was due to the fact he was more rested.
Scott Powers (3:00 PM)
Michael, Raanta's starts will increase after the Olympic break as the schedule picks up. There are a number of four-game weeks and back-to-backs after the break, and they'll be sure to give Crawford his rest and get him ready for the playoffs.
Greg Shriver (Winchester, Virginia)
Do you think the Blackhawks would do the Bickell signing again if they had a do over?
Scott Powers (3:02 PM)
Greg, I know Bowman is a big fan of Bickell and didn't want to lose him. It's hard to judge the signing this early. I think you have to see how this season unfolds still. That injury obviously impacted how he's played.
You say that Q won't bench Bickell and Handzus but really he doesn't have to bench those guys to get Morri and Pirri in the lineup. Those two kids could be swapped in for Smith and Bollig. Thoughts?
Scott Powers (3:04 PM)
Scrapper, he wouldn't do that either. Quenneville likes having Bollig as the enforcer and Smith has been pretty consistent. You may disagree with it, but that's just Quenneville.
Jas [via mobile]
Why are the Hawks Struggling in the Shoot-outs even though they have stars like Kane and Toews, sharp and Hossa....and the list goes on....It seems like they can't score one on one with the goalie....it's just Crazy seeing them lose the last few shoot outs.
Scott Powers (3:06 PM)
Jas, not sure on this one. The Blackhawks practice them and they go over goaltenders before shootouts. There's a bit of luck involved. Confidence has also to be a factor.
I thought the Hawks wanted Versteeg to be that versatile forward that could play anywhere. He has yet to kill any penalties and Coach Q lately has hardly played him in the 3rd period of games. How can Versteeg be that forward if he is not going to play in situations that allow him to be that versatile forward you can move up and down your lineup?
Scott Powers (3:09 PM)
Troy, Quenneville said today he's liked how Versteeg has played as of late. His reduced minutes have had more to do with whom he's been paired with. Bickell and Handzus haven't been helping him out. Versteeg has been used a bit on the PK, but not much. I do agree with you about the versatility. It's not really utulized as much as they said it would be.
Scott Powers (3:10 PM)
Everyone, thanks as always for the questions. Sorry, I have to cut it short today. Please email me at email@example.com if you have anything else. Have a good weekend