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Blackhawks mailbag: What happens when Keith, Rozsival are back?

Time for another edition of the #HeyLaz mailbag. If you have anything you’d like to ask, just use the hashtag so I can find it. Let’s get right into it:

El Trey (@tree_turty_tree)

I’ll bite. W/Roszival coming back eventually and Cumiskey in the system, how do you see the 5/6/7 D shake out in the near future? #HeyLaz

I think once Michal Rozsival returns — and it could happen as soon as late next week — Joel Quenneville will want to keep him in the rotation, but not as an everyday player. In other words, more like in 2012-13 and 2013-14, when he played about half the regular-season games and was fresh for the playoffs. For all the grief Rozsival gets from fans, he’s a reliable guy who’s got better offensive instincts than he gets credit for, and who has a sneaky shot from the point. He was playing quite well in the postseason last year until he broke his ankle in Minnesota. If he can physically get back to that level, Quenneville will be thrilled.

That said, Trevor van Riemsdyk has been worthy of all the playing time he’s getting, and he’s not leaving the lineup. Viktor Svedberg is rapidly improving, too. That leaves Erik Gustafsson, David Rundblad and Rozsival to fight it out for the seventh spot, once Duncan Keith returns. Rundblad obviously hasn’t earned Quenneville’s trust yet (Gustafsson is playing ahead of him right now), but he’s signed on a two-year, one-way deal. Hard to imagine him getting demoted to Rockford at this point. So it could be a Rozsival-Brookbank-Kostka situation with eight defensemen, meaning Rozsival will split time with Svedberg and Rundblad, and Gustafsson will be Next Man Up, should the need arise. Kyle Cumiskey is another safety net for Quenneville, but so far, give the coach credit — he’s letting the kids play, and he’s giving them a long leash. As a result, they’re getting better and holding their own.

Bob Lanz (@lanz_edward)

#HeyLaz do you have a Q to English dictionary for translating what he says to what he means?

Don’t need one. I’m fluent. Some examples:

“He was special” means he was really, really good.

“I didn’t mind him” means he was fine.

“He was all right” means he wasn’t that bad.

“He was OK” means he wasn’t very good.

“He was ordinary” means he was awful and Q wants to fire him into the sun.

“Could be” means yes.

“Likely” means yes.

“We’ll see” means Q doesn’t want to answer your question. I get a lot of “We’ll see”s.

Cyndi B (@spintheiryarns)

If you played baseball what would your walk out song be? #HeyLaz

Oh, man. This is the single-toughest question anyone’s ever asked me. And as soon as I publish this, I’ll think of a hundred more songs I should have chosen. And then that’ll keep happening every day for the rest of my life. So thanks for that. Off the top of my head, though? Let’s go with the closing guitar-heavy part of “Knights of Cydonia” by Muse.

Sarcastic Mike (@Sarcastic_Mike)

#heylaz why don’t the Hawks broadcasts put shot attempts in the scoring graphics?

That’s a better question for CSN and WGN. The regional Fox Sports channels started doing it last season, and it’s great. I wish everybody would.

Brad Englin (@bradleymenglin)

what’s the most interesting part of following the team on the beat? #HeyLaz

The snarky answer would be something about all the, ahem, interesting people I come across on Twitter. The real answer, though, is simply the travel. As hard as it is to be away from my family so much, I really do enjoy being on the road. It keeps things fresh during a very, very, very long season, even though it’s the same 29 places every year. Not sure that’s really what you meant by “interesting,” but it’s the part I enjoy the most. Ask my wife, who’s back home right wrangling a 3-year-old and a 7-week-old while I’m writing mailbags and watching Netflix in a hotel room, and she might have a different adjective for it.

Cassy (@_MAF29)

#HeyLaz Panarin, right now, seems to be the best KHL import out of the others (Plotnikov, Moses, etc). Did you foresee this?

It’s early, but Artemi Panarin is everything he was advertised to be and then some. You hear something like “the Russian Kane” and you’re naturally skeptical, but he does have that same mix of daring and dangle that Kane has. What’s surprised me the most is how he hasn’t been a liability defensively. He’s had no trouble adapting to the North American game, and he’s won over Quenneville very quickly. But as Panarin himself pointed out, he’s 24 years old. He’s not some doe-eyed kid, even if he’s technically a rookie.

Darko Mano (@soylentgibby)

Long time caller, first time listener #HeyLaz Shaw has regressed in nearly every stat. any chance he gets scratched soon?

There’s no doubt that Andrew Shaw’s numbers have dropped off so far this season. He’s under water in terms of possession, and he had just one point through the first 12 games before he posted a goal and an assist against St. Louis. I wouldn’t worry so much about the points, since he’s no longer on that third line. Though you’d like to see him pick up a few more ugly power-play goals, his 5-on-5 role is now on that shutdown fourth line with Andrew Desjardins and Marcus Kruger. He’s been effective on that line, and most of his lousy possession numbers came when he was on a makeshift third line. Shaw is a hard worker and always has been one of Quenneville’s favorites. As long as he stays on the wing and on that shutdown line, he’ll be fine.

lizzy (@wiseaus)

@MarkLazerus #heylaz how’s that playlist of all the songs different arenas play going?

It’s happening. I’m committed to it this year. Every year, I start it up, and every year, I bail on it. It won’t be so much a playlist as a ranking of all 30 arenas based on their music. Spoiler alert: It’s going to be hard not to make the United Center No. 1. #PearlJamCounter

lenny @crazylenny

#HeyLaz Are you participating in #Movember by growing a stache?

I can grow a pretty mean beard in a couple of weeks. But I have a Toews-like inability to grow a decent mustache. I’d need Mowinter, not Movember, to grow a real mustache.

Mike Schmitt (@BigSchmitty)

is every team in the central for real or is there any team(s) you see dropping out of the race early? #HeyLaz

Well, I assume we’re not talking about Colorado, but rather the six very good teams in the Central Division. And, yes, I do believe they’re all for real. We all know what St. Louis, Nashville, Minnesota and the Hawks can do. And anyone who doesn’t think Winnipeg can hang around all season isn’t paying attention. Dallas is the party-crasher, and right now, in first place. The Stars are loaded offensively. Beyond that, they’re a bit underwhelming, but Antti Niemi has been a nice addition in goal and Johnny Oduya has helped a shaky blue line. Besides, if you can score three or four goals a game, you can get by with adequate goaltending and adequate defense. And there’s no reason to think Dallas is going to stop scoring goals anytime soon. A very, very good Central Division team is going to miss the playoffs this year.

Steve T. Gorches (@SteveTGorches)

#HeyLaz I have to ask, what do you miss most about covering HS football games in Northwest Indiana?

I don’t know if I miss the games themselves much (though I do miss the occasional chili in the Griffith press box), but I do miss having literally hundreds of stories to write about. That’s the beauty of covering 40-some teams as opposed to one team. A man can only write so many Jonathan Toews Is Good At Hockey stories.

Al Hartford (@CoachHart_BSHS)

#HeyLaz ever been to Montana? Or have any experiences with a Montanan?

I have! Before I was flush with United miles and Marriott points, my wife and I used to visit as many national parks as we could. Spent a few days at Glacier in Montana. On our first day, we hiked what felt like 100 miles straight up hill to get a great view of Lake McDonald. By the time we got up there, the weather had turned and it was all fog as far as the eye could see. D’oh. We did see some baby bears and a moose by Many Glacier, though, so it’s all good.

Mario Kalo (@MarioKalo)

young journo in me wants to know: Do you pre write your instant gamers or do you just predict the future?

You might notice I tweet a whole lot in the first and second periods, then get really quiet in the third. That’s because I’m writing. I never write a single word until the second intermission, then I get cracking. If it’s a blowout, piece of cake. If it’s close, I usually try to write something that can be easily adapted for a win or a loss. If it goes to overtime, I try to quickly reconfigure it during the brief intermission so I can insert a quick sentence or two about how the game-winner was scored and get the story online within seconds. There are many nights when there are five minutes left in the third period and I have two windows open on my laptop — a Hawks win gamer, and a Hawks lose gamer. In the playoffs, there’s a third window — a Hawks go into overtime story, for early edition papers.

Basically, once a team has a lead — any team — in the third period, I’m hoping nobody scores again. And if it’s tied in the third period, I’m rooting for a goal, any goal. You can usually tell if I’m happy with my instant gamer by looking at the final-edition gamer. If I liked it, it’s largely the same. If I’m mortified by it, I blow it up and start from scratch when I return from the dressing room.

Bob Elliott (@bobelliott33334)

What do you do in between the morning skate and the game? Any time to nap? #HeyLaz

That’s probably what I should do. That, or join a gym. On home game days, I usually stay in the city rather than go all the way home. I’ll write a couple stories, maybe catch a movie, run some errands, stare into the void, catch up on some TV shows, whatever I can do to pass the time. On the road, I do much of the same, unless I feel like being touristy.

CHI/EDM (@CHIHawkey19)

#HeyLaz @MarkLazerus Do you expect Kero to stay up a bit longer?

I like what I’ve seen out of Kero so far. He’s not shy about shooting (he had eight shots on goal in his first two games) and having him in the lineup allows the Hawks to put Teuvo Teravainen on a scoring line, and keep Andrew Shaw on the wing, where he’s at his best. With Ryan Hartman being sent down on Thursday, there’s little reason to think Kero won’t get an extended look.

Greg Bibeau (@GregBeebs)

@MarkLazerus #HeyLaz What is your favorite Pearl Jam song?

I waffle between Off He Goes and Rearviewmirror. I could call them 1A and 1B, but honestly, if I started doing that, I’d run out of letters before I got to 2. I tried to do a Top 10 a few weeks ago off the top of my head, and came up with:

1. Off He Goes

2. Rearviewmirror

3. Corduroy

4. Hail Hail

5. Present Tense

6. Porch

7. Undone

8. Last Exit

9. In Hiding

10. Love Boat Captain

Of course, there are about 50 more that are “top 10” in my mind.

Brian Dowgiallo (@WHITESOXRUNNER)

#heylaz where do you see the outdoor games in 10 years? At some point does the league scale back? Or even worse will the NHL schedule more?

Personally, I’d love to see the Winter Classic be the only outdoor game of the year, and have it essentially replace the All-Star game. That’s not going to happen, of course, because there’s money to be made. I think having a few outdoor games a year is fine. But the league simply has to stop relying on the same teams over and over again. That the Hawks are playing in their fourth outdoor game — and for the third year in a row — this season is absurd. I realize the league wants to lean on teams like Chicago and Boston and Detroit for the guaranteed ratings and ticket sales. But you grow the game by giving other teams a chance. I’m glad to see Colorado and Minnesota each get one this year, but they should have been against teams other than Detroit and Chicago. How do you pass up Minnesota-Dallas?

Chuck Fattore (@chuckfattore1)

any chance Q gives Morin a shot on that 3rd line? seems not to like him, but Stan does can score and has a little grit. #Asklaz

There would have to be a bunch of injuries before Jeremy Morin got another chance, I think. Look at who’s been up so far ahead of Morin — Kyle Baun, Vinnie Hinostroza, Tanner Kero, Ryan Hartman and Marko Dano. Mark McNeill is still in Rockford, and Phil Danault will eventually return from hip surgery. Then there’s Bryan Bickell, of course. Don’t forget, Morin had no points in 15 games with the Hawks last year, then went to Columbus and had just two goals in 28 games. At some point, you have to look at other guys.

Ilija Wolinski (@tbo41fan)

@MarkLazerus #HeyLaz Messi or Ronaldo?

Socc… er?