Below is an excerpt from General Manager Stan Bowman's interview on the Blackhawks Insider podcast. To listen to the full interview, visit the link below, or subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.
Insider: Have you had conversations at this point about how you're going to figure out the rest of the season? Philosophically when you're in a position where you've won the Central Division, that's your first goal, and then the next goal is to clinch the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference. But with four or five games left, do you start thinking about whether or not you want to rest some guys or make sure some guys don't accidentally get injured at the last minute before the playoffs? Or do you want to finish off the regular season as strong as you can and keep everything status quo?
Bowman: We have had discussions on that topic. I think it's a fair question. I think the temptation is to say we're going to relax. But in those instances, you tend to either get in bad habits or you're more susceptible to injuries. Part of hockey is playing and not worrying about injuries. We haven't been thinking about injuries all season long, so to start thinking of them now... It's understandable to watch minutes within games and try to play without wearing certain players down. But the strength of our team has been our ability to play an even distribution of the lines. We want to go into the postseason on a roll and keep up the momentum that we've built. Right now we're just trying to stay in the moment and keep doing what's been working.
Insider: Is Brandon Pirri a player that, had he been on any other team in the NHL, would be playing in the NHL right now?
Bowman: Brandon has really improved each year. This year he's put it all together. He's having an outstanding season. I think he would be in the NHL on many teams. He's an option for us as well. I think he's proven his ability to be able to be an offensive force, and that's always a great option to have as we head down the stretch in the playoffs.
Insider: What kind of freedom do you have as a general manager in terms of calling guys up, adding them to the roster and having them in reserve?
Bowman: We have that ability to add the "Black Aces," our taxi squad of guys who are practicing with us once their season has ended. Hopefully that's not the case for the Rockford team and they're in a playoff run. But if they weren't, instead of those players going home, we bring them here and keep them in the wings in the event that we run into some injury trouble in the playoffs. You need to have these guys training as opposed to just staying at home and calling them back in May and saying we might need you. If the IceHogs are still playing in the playoffs, we're confined to our current requirements, which is that you can have four recalls, and if you have an emergency you can bring up additional players. In the event that the IceHogs don't make the playoffs, we will select the players that would conceivably play for the Blackhawks if we ran into injuries.
Insider: How much advanced scouting is currently happening as we head into the playoffs? We have no idea who the opponent is going to be. It could be one of three or four different teams. How do you prepare for that?
Bowman: We're mapping out the four or five teams that could be in the slot that we would play, and we start by going out and scouting them exclusively. We assign one team to each scout and they go and watch that team very closely. What are their tendencies, the way they utilize their players, their systems? This is all in addition to what our coaching staff does on their own already. But there's always that added part of scouting—of being in the building, watching the things that happen between whistles, interactions between coaches and players, the things that you only see at the games. We've established who is going to do what for the last couple weeks of the season; they'll follow that team around and report back. Obviously, one of those teams will be our opponent, and they'll sit down with our coaches and give them their thoughts in addition to what the coaches see on the video.
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