By Jay Zawaski-
(CBS) Every now and again, the hockey season reaches the dog days and writer’s block hits. Well, this is one of those times. With that in mind, I appealed my Twitter and Facebook friends for some Blackhawks questions. So you get a mailbag to help you get through your Friday, with my best attempts at answers.
Gillette: If the Hawks were to make a trade, which position would they address and which player, if any, is likely to move?
JZ: General manager Stan Bowman has gone on record recently and said the Hawks aren’t actively looking to add anything substantial, assuming the team stays relatively healthy. Bowman said if any moves are made, they will be made “in organization,” meaning it would mean a call-up or demotion. With Trevor van Riemsdyk “ahead of schedule” in his recovering from a left patella fracture, the Hawks could find themselves with a surplus of bottom-three defensemen. If someone is indeed moved, I’d look for Michal Rozsival, David Rundblad or Tim Erixon to be traded for picks or future considerations. Like I said, if they add a player, it will be from the organization. Adam Clendening, Klas Dahlbeck and Teuvo Teravainen (if he’s sent down) could find themselves up for the last part of the season.
Gary N: Is Corey Crawford having lingering issues from his off-ice injury? He doesn’t seem himself lately.
JZ: As much as I’ve been called a Crawford apologist, it’s impossible to not notice the dip in his play since returning from his at left foot injury suffered at a concert. Before the injury, his save percentage was .929. In the nine games since his return, it’s been a subpar .882. Crawford’s been better over his last three starts (.952), but it was ugly for a few games there. Hopefully, he can maintain the form he showed prior to the injury.
Pablo M: Do the Blackhawks have an internal player who can take minutes from a struggling Johnny Oduya?
JZ: Oduya has looked pretty bad this season — and horrible lately. How bad? Let’s take a look at some of the numbers. (Warning: graphic content)
Oduya is a -3 on the season and a -6 over his last 10 games. He’s the only Blackhawks defenseman with a negative rating. Partner Niklas Hjalmarsson is +10. When it comes to five-on-five even-strength Corsi, he has a team low 48.2 percent. His Corsi +/- is an abysmal -51. The closest Hawk to his -51 is Joakim Nordstrom, who is a -15. The closest regular is Daniel Carcillo, who is dead even. Ben Smith is +1.
As far as options to take Oduya’s minutes, you’re probably looking at a minutes increase for Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Hjalmarsson. I’m don’t think Clendening, Dahlbeck, Rundblad or Rozsival can be trusted to add quality minutes.
TJ: Any chance Crawford ever gets some respect? If he wins, the team gets all the credit. If he loses, all hell breaks loose.
JZ: Nothing has perplexed me as much as the Crawford hate. I wrote a while back that I think you can argue there are seven or eight goalies who are better than Crawford. That’s really it. Not every player on the roster can be a Hall of Famer. Is Crawford overpaid? Slightly. Is he a top-five goalie? Probably not. Can the Hawks win another Stanley Cup with him in goal? Absolutely.
Patrick G: On the power play, why doesn’t Joel Quenneville use Seabrook at the point instead of Sharp? He has the most accurate point shot on the team.
JZ: Patrick, your prayers may have been answered. Quenneville was working Seabrook on the point with Keith this week. I like Sharp on the point, but you’re absolutely correct. Seabrook has been the Hawks’ most accurate shooting defenseman this season (7.4 percent). Unlike his partner Keith, he aims at the net and consistently tries to score. Keith, on the other hand, stubbornly attempts the slap pass, which works about once in out of every 415,352,191 times he makes an attempt. I like Seabrook on the power play, and I hope he sticks.
Chip P: If Uncle Dad adopts me, do I get to pick my mom?
JZ: I think that’s only fair. (If you’re confused, Google “Martin Brodeur Uncle Daddy” or “Martin Brodeur divorce” or “Martin Brodeur marries sister-in-law.”
Eric S: With Andrew Shaw’s recent decline in production, where do you see him fitting in when the playoff race intensifies?
JZ: It’s in the Hawks’ best interest to get Shaw as close to his 2013-’14 form as possible. Skating with Teravainen and Sharp should certainly help. The Hawks need him if they’re going to win the Stanley Cup this season. Only he and Bryan Bickell play the power forward game that’s so essential in long playoff runs.
Mike D: When Kris Versteeg returns, who moves down to left wing with Marcus Kruger and Smith on the shutdown line and replaces Carcillo?
JZ: This is a tough question to answer, but here’s what my lines would look like with every player healthy and Teravainen on the roster.
That’s a damn good lineup, though a little small. I’m still not convinced the Hawks are going to keep Teravainen on the roster all year. I hope I’m wrong, but with Versteeg back, I don’t know where he fits in a Quenneville lineup.
Sarcastic Mike: Given the learning curve for face-offs at the NHL level for even the best centermen, do you expect to see Teravainen paired up with a winger to take most or all of the draws this year?
JZ: The main reason we’ve seen Teravainen on the wing is because of his lack of strength. He’s small and hasn’t quite built up the muscle needed to center an NHL line. Putting him on the wing, especially with a skilled winger like Sharp on his other wing, frees him up to focus on offense and stay out of traffic a bit more.
Thanks again to all who contributed to the mailbag and to all who took the time to read. Keep the questions coming via Twitter (@JayZawaski670), Facebook and my email (jay@670theScore.com). Even if I’m not putting together a mailbag, I’ll do my best to answer everything you all might send.