Hi all, hope everyone is having a good day. The Blackhawks just got done with practice and availability at the United Center. I'm planning on being here for 30 or so minutes today.
Who is our Conn Smythe so far? Toews, Kane, Bickell, or Crawford?
Sam, I would say Crawford at this point. He's played at another level and been the reason why the Blackhawks have won a few of those games. An argument could probably be made for Kane and Toews as well.
Regular season aside, the Hawks would rather play the Ducks, right? Both matchup-wise and especially goalie-wise?
Paul, I would think they would want to play the Kings. The Blackhawks would have home-ice advantage over the Kings. The Kings are also a bit more banged up at this point. Jonathan Quick has also been a bit inconsistent in the playoffs.
Were you surprised Bollig received a hearing and suspension for his hit on Ballard? There have been a bunch of similar hits in the playoffs that did not result in hearings, including 2-3 in our series with St. Louis
Alex, I wasn't surprised. The NHL often takes into account if a head injury occurs on the play, and that's what happened on the Bollig hit. If Ballard doesn't get affected as he did, it's likely not a suspension.
Has Regin shown enough to stick in the line up even after Shaw returns? He seems to be a better fit right now than Nordstrom or Bollig.
James, it's hard to tell at this point. If the Bollig-Kruger-Smith fourth line plays well, Quenneville will stick with that, which likely means Shaw will replace Regin. If that fourth line is shaky and Bollig is noticeablly struggling, Regin has a better chance of sticking. Regin certainly has the nod over Nordstrom right now.
Even though the playoffs are in full swing for the Blackhawks, I am looking ahead to the summer and free agency. Are there any free agents that would be worth while for the Blackhawks to look at, or do you see any roster changes coming from internal personnel, i.e Rockford?
Michael, it's likely going to be a quiet summer for the Blackhawks. I see them resigning Ben Smith, and that might be it for the forwards. Handzus will be let go, and Teravainen will take his spot. Defensively, there are seven defensemen already signed for next season. It'll be interesting to see whether the Blackhawks believe Raanta can be their fulltime backup next season. He's a RFA after the season.
First off, I'd like to start by saying being from MN, it felt so good knocking the wild out of the playoffs in back to back years. Being able to witness it in person this year made it that much sweeter!What will be the D pairing on our revolving 3rd line pairing. Is Roszival getting any closer? Or are we gonna roll Brookbank and Leddy even if Rosie is healthy?Thanks! Go Hawks!
Jordan, Rozsival wasn't taken out of the lineup becuase he was hurt. Quenneville was upset with his play in Game 4. I could see him going back to Rozsival in Game 1 of the next series.
We've seen the last of Brandon Bollig in these playoffs, right? Peter Regin showed what he can do and his versatility is too important to sit the pressbox.
Greg, Quenneville had Bollig alongside Kruger and Smith on the fourth line today. Regin was the third-line center. I imagine that's what he'll go with for Game 1 and then determine what's working and what's not.
Scott why is it, atleast in my eyes are the hawks not getting treated as the defending cup champs? Specifically against the wild. All I kept reading out of ESPN was how lucky the hawks were in the series and that the wild out played them.
Brian, the Blackhawks are getting respect, but both series were real tight. I think there were times the Wild outplayed the Blackhawks, and other times were the Blackhawks outplayed the Wild. In the end, who cares? The Blackhawks won and the Wild were eliminated. I think people get too caught up in respect. Winning is all that matters.
Do Anaheim and LA play a more open style of play vs how Minnesota plays? If so, is that an advantage for the Hawks coming from a series against a team like Minnesota?
Jack, neither team plays exactly like the Wild. There should be a bit more ice to come by. The Kings are probably more physical than the Ducks, but neither will be looking to get into a track meet with the Blackhawks.
Scott,Odd question, I noticed in game three in Minnesota that the Wild had a large looking Ipad with a live feed of the game on the bench right behind coach Mike Yeo. Simple question, is this legal? I saw it at least twice.
Drew, yeah, it's legal. You see it pulled out more often in the regular season when they're going into shootouts and trying to figure out tendencies.
With the style of play both the Kings and the Ducks bring, how crucial will getting back shaw be?
Justin, getting Shaw back is important no matter who they play. You could tell they were missing him against the Wild. I still don't think he'll be back for at least a few games because he's yet to skate.
Any chance Hossa breaks out next series? A dominant Hossa would make such a difference.
Craig, I thought Hossa was really good in the last series. He had a series-high nine points against the Wild. He had only one goal, but he had eight assists and was often a reason why the Blackhawks scored. He also leads the league in takeaways in the playoffs. He's playing at a high level right now.
Any word on Shaw's availability to start the next series? Probably no word yet, right?
Matt, I don't expect him for Game 1. Quenneville did say he would be back at some point this series. I think it'll be at least a few games.
Why do you think we pretty much got creamed by Wild on possession stats? Were we out of gas? Are they actually now faster than us? Did Yeo get better match-ups? There hasn't really been a series like that one. Hard to nail down.
Moose, I thought matchups were key. That Koivu line matched up well against the Toews line. The Blackhawks second line struggled against Parise-Granlund-Pominville especialy in Game 6. I thought Quenneville going away from a four-line rotation affected them in both series as well. The top three lines were getting more defensive zone starts than they had been in the regular season.
It seems as if the Hawks are playing just good enough to squeeze by their opponents. They don't appear to be as crisp as they were when they were challenging for the Pres Cup mid-season. Is that a result of facing tougher, playoff style game play or possibly because they simply have not needed to put it into high gear?
Shmu, yes, for one, the Wild and Blues are good teams. They factored into the way the Blackhawks played. Secondly, I don't think the Blackhawks are as good as they were last season. That doesn't mean they won't win another Cup, but they weren't especially impressive after coming back from the Olympics. They played at high levels at times, but not as consistently as last season.
Hi Scott, Who give the Hawks a tougher challenge and does it matter who they play? Will they advance regardless?
Jeff, I wouldn't say they advance regardless. Both teams will be a challenge. I still think they'd rather play the Kings because of home-ice advantage and the Kings injuries.
Is there room to keep Regin after Shaw comes back? Can he play wing and suit up instead of Bollig?
Scott, I think it all depends on the first few games for that fourth line. If Quenneville finds he can trust Bollig-Kruger-Smith again, that line likely stays intact. I also think it'll be at least a few games until Shaw returns.
Who will Shaw replace in the lineup, and why is it Nordstrom?
Sean, it's Regin for now. The lines today were Bickell-Toews-Hossa, Sharp-Handzus-Kane, Saad-Regin-Versteeg, Bollig-Kruger-Smith.
Would you guess that game 2 would be on Tuesday and game 3 be on Thursday or Friday?
Joe, yes, that would be my guess. I would assume it goes Sunday and Tuesday and then Friday and Sunday.
Did you think Coach Q was going a little overboard stirring up the pot with his changes to the lines, like I do? Continuity breeds familiarity/cohesion/and anticipation. Or is questioning an 800+ games winning coach just as outlandish as it sounds?
Sam, I agree. I thought he overdid it. I thought going back to Sharp-Toews-Hossa and using all four lines was why the Blackhwaks were successful again.
A little humor during this stressful and exciting postseason.Did you see this Team Finland line change? How concerned are you that Teuvo might have trouble with line changes in the NHL?https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2JGY98IYv4M
Ricky, yes, very funny. It might be something they practice in training camp.
Do you think the 'Hawks' occasional lackadaisical play could come down to fatigue from two straight long seasons?
Mike, I would assume there's some fatigue, but a lot of teams are going through the same thing. It's not as if other teams aren't going through perids of lackadaisical play as well. It's only a few days, but getting done in six games instead of seven should benefit them.
I have a feeling Andrew Shaw's injury is worse than we think. Is the team downplaying how serious it is?
Pat, I don't believe they understood the seriousness of it right away. I do think he'll play in this series.
Hi Scott. My question pertains to the Wild. A lot is being made out of that team and how they "came within 1 goal of game 7" or "gave the Hawks all they could handle". Yes they played well at home and had some players peak at the right time and seemed to be well coached. . . but I think they are getting a little ahead of themselves, don't you? The Hawks smoked them in games 1 and 2 and then got off their game for a bit in a loud building with a knowledgable fan base. They Hawks regrouped and did what they needed to do. I like some of their young players and agree they have a decent CORE, but I really dont see them being able to hack it and play at that level through a whole 82 game season. My position is: They will take a step back before they take another step forward. My question: What do you make of the Wild as they pertain to the Hawks and their division? Thanks!
I wrote about this yesterday. I think that Central is going to be a battle for seasons to come. The Wild, Blues, Avalanche have young and skilled players, and these playoff experiences are only going to make them better. It took the Blackhawks core a few years before they finally broke though. The Blackhawks might be the team to beat every season, but those other teams are closing the gap.
Gary, it's not that they don't have the same talent, but it is a tired team that didn't consistently play well during the regular season. A short offseason, a full 82-game schedule and the Olympics factored into that.
Everyone, thanks for all the questions today. There were a number that were repeating the same topic, so no offense meant if I skipped yours. As always, feel free to email at email@example.com if you want to ask something I missed today or want to discuss something else. Have a good weekend.