Hi everyone, I just got done with covering the Blackhawks' practice at Johnny's. I'll be here for about an hour to answer your questions.
It's hard to find things wrong with a team that have only lost 5 times all season but I have one(besides for the obvious and not really accurate goalie problem) The big problem with the PP in my opinion is shot accuracy by the D men it seems like Keith can't hit the broad side a barn whats that about?
Izzy, it seems like each shift it's been a different problem for the power-play unit. They've struggled at times to get up and ice set up. There's also been times where they've been too patient. I would agree the team's point play hasn't been consistent either. Quenneville mentioned today he thought some of it might be mental as well. It sounds like they're going to devote a lot of practice to it tomorrow. We'll see on Friday if that works.
Is drew Leblanc going to play in any if the upcoming games?
Rob, that's doubtful. The only reason he's in Chicago rather than Rockford is because of an NHL rule which didn't permit him to be sent down. He'll get the experience of practicing with the team, but he even acknowledged the other day he doesn't anticipate playing.
Scott, I understand the concerns about Carcillo not being disciplined but why is he never in the lineup against bullies like the Blues? The opponents know that there are no repercussions at all when he's not suited up. Bollig is big but scares nobody. It's just a matter of time before we lose a star to a key injury without an enforcer. Do you agree? Thanks.
Kevin, Quenneville has often preferred Bollig in those St. Louis games. I get having physical players and enforcers are important, but I don't think the lack of them is going to prevent a player from being injured. If a team wants to hurt a Blackhawks player, there may be no stopping them. It just matters who is on the ice to retaliate It'll be interesting when Sharp returns if Carcillo or Bollig will at all be in lineup.
What are the chances the Hawks move Sharp in the offseason, and what might they get for him other than cap relief? He can't seem to stay healthy and the Hawks are winning without him. I think he's become more expendable with the emergence of Saad.
Ryan, I don't think that's realistic. Sharp is under contract for four more seasons after this one. He's had a nagging shoulder injury this season, but I don't think tjat means he's injury prone. He's also conistently been among the team leaders in goals and points in recent seasons, so I don't think his play has shown signs of deteriorating. I think Saad's emergence just strengthens those top two lines in the future.
What do you think the lines will be for the playoffs? Do you think Handzus moves up to the Bickell/Stalberg line and Shaw moves to the 4th line?
Brad, I think the lines will be Saad-Toews-Hossa, Kane-Bolland-Sharp, Stalberg-Shaw-Bickell, Handzus-Kruger-Frolik. There's a chance Handzus and Shaw could switch lines, but Quenneville has moved Shaw back to that third line in recent games.
The Hawks have had one of their forwards hurt all year. With Sharp looking to join the mix soon, do you see the Hawks scratching their only enforcer to keep Frolik and Bickell in the lineup?
Scott, I would anticipate that. I'm not sure who they would scratch instead to keep Bollig or Carcillo in there. Frolik would be an option, but he's been so good on the penalty kill. Bickell is too much of an offensive threat on that third line and does give them some physical play. The Blackhawks have rarely been completely healthy this season, so it'll definitely be interesting to see what Quenneville does if that happens.
Please help my friends settle a debate...Bolland sucks at faceoffs, we know this. Does practicing against the Captain help him learn new techniques to improve over time or does it simply deflate him because he always loses? Thank you.
Mark, Bolland and all the centers practice faceoffs in practice. I would assume practicing against Toews can't hurt and I know some of the players and coaches discuss techniques, but I don't think there's much room for growth for Bolland in that area. He's consistently been under 50 percent on faceoffs for his career. Some of having success there is just about natural skill.
4 days off and then 6 games in 9 days to finish the season? Thanks, NHL. Does Q decide to give the core players some rest through the home stretch? Depending on the outcome of Anaheim's game tonight, #1 seed could be locked up by tonight. I'm thinking Hoss, Bolland, even a couple d-men could use it.
Greg, I would anticipate Quenneville to rest the guys more often once that top seed is wrapped up. He's been pretty mindful of minutes all season, but I could see Mayers, Bollig, Carcillo seeing the ice more often and resting Keith, Toews, etc.
Can the Blackhawks clinch home ice with an Anaheim loss tonight?
Mike, the Blackhawks can clinch with a Ducks regulation, overtime or shootout loss.
Given the upcoming game schedule and probable starters in net, do you have any impression or insight as to who will get the Game 1 start once playoffs begin? Do you think the decision may be swayed by who the Hawks are playing in the first round? Thanks in advance.
Tim, I still think Quenneville is leaning toward Crawford. Unless Crawford has a handful of poor peformances leading up to the playoffs, I would be surprised if he goes in the other direction. If it is Detroit, that would also help Quenneville's decision with Crawford's recent success against them.
Will Sharp return this Friday?
Jerry, Sharp is questionable for Friday as of now. Quenneville said today he thought he would have a better idea after tomorrow's practice. Sharp did look fine as he practiced today, but they're going to be extra careful with him.
After the emergence of saad, when will we get a look at some of the young guys in the minors? Pirri, Morin, Beach etc. I thought after sharp and hoss went down it would have been a good time to see some good talented scorers we have in the minors
Eddie, I think there's a chance a few of those guys could still be called up again this year depending on the AHL playoffs. Rockford is fighting for the eighth spot right now. But I think next year, a few of those guys, especially Morin and Hayes, will get a chance to make the team out of training camp.
Will the team have Drew LeBlanc for next season? Or was this essentially just a signing to give him NHL-life experience and then let him go.
William, I believe the Blackhawks intend on resigning him. Because of his age, they could only sign him to a one-year deal and then he becomes a restricted free agent.
Where do the Hawks stand with salary caps and do you think everyone on this years team will be back?
Steve, the Blackhawks are projected to have close to $6 million in cap space. I don't think they'll have enough money to get everyone back. Bickell and Stalberg will likely get salary bumps. Emery likely played himself into a larger contract somewhere else. Leddy and Kruger are also restricted free agents. I would assume Handzus and Mayers are gone after the season. Rozsival is also a free agent.
What's the story with Montador and Olesz? I'm not wild about either of them, but shouldn't we be bringing up veterans when the playoffs begin? Olesz appears to be doing well in Rockford too...
Michael, I could see the Blackhawks bringing up both guys once Rockford's season is over. There's no need for them now and they wouldn't be playing. It's best to keep the AHL guys as fresh as they can be.
How are we going to beat the Ducks in the playoffs? They are the only team to have our number.
Owen, I don't think the separation between the Blackhawks and Ducks is all that much. All the games were pretty much decided in the third period. I think the Blackhawks have worked on fixing those third-period issues. Not that means the Blackhawks won't lose to the Ducks if they met them again, but I don't think there are any issues they need to really address to play them again.
Has Nick Leddy's play this year put him into the conversation for Team USA in Sochi next winter (assuming the NHL players are involved)? Is he one of the top 6 US born defensemen in the game today?
Chi-Guy, I would have to do some more research to figure that out, but I think Leddy has definitely improved his play this season. Quenneville was just remarking on that today.
do you see after this year the hawks trading a Jimmy Hayes a Jermey Morin or Ben smith for a good second line center?
Mo, I think the Blackhawks could use some of their prospects as trade bait. They have a number of guys on the verge of making that jump to the NHL. It also depends on how much they value Hayes, Morin, etc. Some of those guys held their own when given chances with the Hawks this season.
Assuming that LeBlanc does resign with the Hawks in the offseason, is he someone that could be fighting to make the roster next year or does he need time in the minors? What type of player/ceiling is he?
Pete, I think there are other guys ahead of him in the system. His age (23) puts him at a disadvantage to sit around in the minors too long, but I think he spends at least next year in Rockford. I haven't seen a lot of his game, but he's known to be a creator and good passer.
Did you think at the beginning of the season that the Hawks would be this dominant?
Steve, I don't think anyone saw this coming. If they did, I hope they made some money on it.
Which team is the best matchup for the Blackhawks in round one?
Jeff, I would say Detroit. I know the rivalry makes it a bit more intense, but I just haven't been that impressed by the Red Wings this season. They just aren't the same team in years past. Dallas wouldn't be a bad option either. The Blackhawks have proven they can score consistently against the Stars. I would say they wouldn't want Columbus. They've had a number of tight games with the Blue Jackets.
You talked about resting starters after the Hawks clinch the conference, but wouldn't Q wait until after we clinch the overall top seed against Pittsburgh before resting too many guys?
Bill, sorry, I think the focus is to the No. 1 overall seed and then resting the guys. They may have to wait a bit longer for that, but they may be able to do that with a couple games to go, too.
Any feel for whether Mark McNeil will get a legit shot to make the roster at the C2 position next fall?
Chi-Guy, I think McNeil will get a look next fall, but he's probably a year away, too. I know he hasn't been getting much of an opportunity in Rockford now.
Do you think the Hawks will face a tough offer sheet for one of their restricted free agents like what happened with the Hammer and San Jose, possibly pricing them out of bringing back some of their other depth guys?
John, I think that's a possiblity. Kruger and Leddy have certainly upped their stock this season and will have other interested teams. I would think they're both a priority for Bowman, too.
Are Emery or Crawford in the Vezina discussion?
Curt, I was just looking into that the other. It'll be interesting because they have pretty much split starts season. I wonder if they'll cancel each other out. Their numbers are worthy.
Is Jesse Rogers bitter that hes covering the Cubs this year instead of the Hawks?
I think Jesse is having fun on the Cubs beat, but still enjoying the Blackhawks from afar.
Thanks again for all the questions today. Sorry, I couldn't get to all of them. As always, feel free to email me at email@example.com. Take care