Hello, hope everyone is having a good Thursday. I'm still here at Johnny's IceHouse after today's practice. Let's chat.
Any insight on how the Hawks will plan to attack this strategic defense shown by Minnesota in game 1?
Joe, for one, they'd like to create more chances on the rush. Both of their goals were created by pushing the tempo and not allowing the Wild to get back in defensive position. They'd also like to take advantage of more second-chance opportunities. They started to get through to Harding as Tuesday's game progressed and would like to capitalize on it after that first shot.
Scott - I live in Dallas, however from Chicago - loyal Hawks fan. Do you think the depth of the Hawks 4th and 5th lines were the primary reason they were able to fend off the Wild the other night?
Ryan, I think the depth was key Tuesday, especially in OT, and will be all series. The Blackhawks have the luxury of splitting up their minutes over four lines and three pairs of defensemen, and the Wild are continually playing their top guys, especially Suter. Eventually that has to cause some fatigue.
Hi Scott, when is Bolland expected to return, and when he does, what does it mean for Handzus?
Dan, Quenneville ruled Bolland out for Friday's game. It sounds like he might get back on the ice in the next few days. I would assume he's probably out for Game 3, too. Maybe back for Game 4? As for where he fits, I don't think you mess with that second line. Handzus is played well beside Sharp and Kane. It'll definitely be a difficult decision where to place Bolland when he returns.
Wondering what Q's infatuation is with Bollig ... Nice to have an enforcer in the lineup, but CarBomb is a far better hockey player. He made an immediate impact for Philly in the finals in 2010. He keeps the opposition honest and can provide an offensive spark at times...something Bollig doesn't possess. Thanks!
Adam, Carcillo seems to be Quenneville's doghouse. Quenneville was asked about not playing Carcillo yesterday, and Quenneville said it was a difficult decision, but they felt comfortable with the lineup they were putting out there. I just don't think Quenneville ever felt comfortable with Carcillo on the ice after his injury this year. He's been in and out of it for the past few months.
Scott, I noticed Sutter and company did a nice job of shutting down Toews, and hassled Kane, to limit their effectiveness. What can the Hawks do to get the puck to the net more.
Mark, I think the numbers are deceiving. While the Wild did have 21 blocked shots, which is a lot, the Blackhawks still had 37 shots on goal and 8 missed shots. That's a lot of shots for a game. I think if the Blackhawks continue to put that pressure on the Wild that eventually some of those shots will find the net. The Blackhawks would like to create more rush chances, too.
Hey Scott, so everyone says that the Hawks looked flat last game. I agree that it wasnt their best game, but couldnt it be possible that they were simply sizing up how their opponent would play them?
Mike, I think the team's bad start had to do a lot with the emotion of beginning the playoffs. I don't think it had anything to do with sizing up their opponent. They knew what Minnesota was going to do. As Sharp said, they were ready for the game, but probably too excited for it. I don't think it'll be a problem going forward.
Any word on Razor?
Leroy, Emery is out for Game 2. He did get in some work today prior to today's practice. I'm not sure about Game 3 yet, but I expect you'll see him backing up Crawford again in the next week or so.
I thought we did fairly well matching up with the physical play of the Wild. Do you see any need for some help in that department, Carcillo etc.?
Bobbo, I was personally surprised how physical the Blackhawks were against the Wild on Tuesday. The Blackhawks had something like six hits against the Wild when they last played in the regular season, and the Blackhawks ending up having 40 hits and leading the Wild in that category on Tuesday. If Bickell, Shaw, etc. are looking to hit as they were on Tuesday, I don't think Carcillo makes a difference.
Scott,What have you heard about Pominville and Backstrom?
Steve, I don't believe they practiced today. The Wild returned to Minnesota after Tuesday's game, so I haven't had access to the team and have been following other reports. I should have more information after tomorrow's morning skate.
Hey Scott, Tuesday night the Hawks squeezed by the 8 seeded Wild while the Pens crushed the east 8 seeded Islanders, are the western conference teams tougher or are the Pens on another level than the Hawks?
Izzy, I think you're reading too much into it. It's one game. Plus, the Blackhawks played in a lot of tight games this season. I haven't seen the Islanders enough to know how they compare to the Western Conference's teams, but I know the Wild can hang with a lot of teams.
how important is it that Emery stays healthy?
John, I think you like the insurance of having a quality backup goalie. You saw Tuesday how quickly a starter can go down. But I don't think if Emery was healthy he would replace Crawford as the starter.
Ah, gonna have to disagree w/ you there Handzus on the second line no brainier comment. Creating chances off the the rush requires speed and Handzus is a Clydesdale. Bolland's 0.5 ppg might not scare you but he helps push the pace which is the Blackhawks signature.
Douglas, Handzus has been getting up and down the ice faster than I expected. He may not be as fast as Bolland, but I think Handzus' vision, passing and faceoff ability makes him a better choice for that second line.
Hey Scott, It was nice to see Cory Crawford bounce back and play a solid game after the first goal to the Wild. I have been backing him up the last two years and get tired of people bashing him. He is proving again that he can play come playoff time. Thoughts?
Chris, I think Crawford has proven all season he's a different player than last year. He's been a lot more consistent and focused. He's allowed some soft goals this year, but he's been able to bounce back from it. I think Tuesday was further proof of that.
Hawks did a lot of hitting Tuesday night. Think that took them out of some of their offense?
Randy, I think part of the reason they were hitting so much was they possessed the puck Tuedsay less than they normally have in games. Despite the amount of hits, they still had a lot of chances on net. After getting just six shots on goal in the first period, they took 31 more over the course of the rest of the game.
Best player on the ice Game 1? Kane? Best line on the ice Game 1? 3rd Line?
Stephen, I would nearly agree with that. Suter was the ice for 40-plus minutes, so he has to get some recoginition, too. I thought both goaltenders were pretty good, too.
If Bolland returns healthy for Game 4 do you think Bollig is odd man out? Keep Zeus on the 2nd line and move Bolland to the 4th. That would be an outstanding defensive 4th line who may give you an occassional goal.
Jack, yeah, I would think Bollig is scratched. I could see Bolland playing anywhere other than the first line. I don't think Bolland has played anywhere other than the second line this season, so I honestly don't know how Quenneville would handle that. Quenneville has been asked about it, but he won't give a direct answer.
Crow let in a weak first goal but seemed to bounce back real nice the rest of the game. Still believe he is a goalie that can lead a team to the Cup? Or is Emery the guy when he returns if healthy?
S.J., I think Crawford has proven all season he can be consistent enough to be the guy. While Tuesday's goal was soft, he did bounce back and didn't allow another goal for the next 70-plus minutes.
Scott, the pre-season rumor was that Q was on the hot seat, mostly due to the first-round exits the previous two years. If the Hawks fail to make the Western Finals or the Stanley Cup, do you think his job is in jeopardy, or does the hot regular season record give me more time?
Dan, I think the regular season made everyone feel good, but ultimately you're defined by how you do in the postseason. I think another first-round exit would put a lot of people in the organization on the hot seat, but I think if they advance that won't be an issue.
What is your score prediction for the game Friday? I say 3-1
Phil, I don't know a final score, but I believe the Blackhawks will score more. Harding has overcome a lot of adversity this season and was impressive on Tuesday, but I think the Blackhawks will get to him if they continue to put that many shots on net.
Who do you see as the biggest threat in the West? Im going to assume we all think Pittsburgh is coming out of the East.
S.J., I think there a lot of teams in the West that can be dangerous. I think Anaheim has to be up there still, though.
Hey Scott, after a physical game 1 how do you think the Hawks' finesse players will react? Looking back at their regular season games we saw our physically stronger players (Hossa, Bickell) play well against the Wild during the season and Tuesday proved no different.
Jared, I think the Blackhawks' finesse players have been dealing with physical teams all season. A lot of teams have used that tactic to try to stop the Blackhawks. I also thought Bickell and Hossa played well in that kind of game on Tuesday.
Bollig or Carbomb? I don't have a problem with Bollig on the ice,but Carcillo game seems more physical and fits better with Kruger/Frolik.
Matt, it appears it'll be Bollig against in Game 2. He skated with the fourth line on Thursday.
Any line-up changes in store for Friday?
Jimbo, it looks like the same lines and defensive pairings.
any insight at all on what exactly is wrong with bolland? still lingering effects of the shea weber shot he blocked? how about emery?
Pamela, I believe it's still the same issue for Bolland as before. I'm not positive with Emery.
Scott do you think that Backstrom getting hurt threw the Hawks off their game some. I was at the 1/30 game and Harding was pulled after both goals that Toews and Shaw scored were 5 hole. I notice that both goals were the same Tuesday night. Do you think that's the book on Harding?
Steve, I don't think Backstrom getting hurt affected the Blackhawks at the start. I don't think it changed their game plan. As for Harding, I'd have to look at the date more, but he has shown some weak areas all season. The Blackhawks scored twice on four shots the first time they faced him.
Scott, What is your take on Harding only allowing one goal in regulation of game 1? Was he just lucky, much better than anyone figures, or the Hawks subpar on putting pressure on him?
Mark, I think Harding deserves a lot of credit for the performance. I'm not sure he can keep that up if the Blackhawks continue to shoot 30-plus times.
Thanks again to everyone for the questions. We'll do it again next week. As always, feel free to email me at email@example.com.