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John Scott in valued niche as Blackhawks’ only heavyweight

John Scott KevWestgarth

John Scott, Kevin Westgarth

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The highlights

Corey Crawford (groin) played after missing practice Friday and was solid with a makeshift group in front of him, giving up three goals on 35 shots against a strong Capitals lineup. Marian Hossa had a power-play goal. Ex-Hawk Troy Brouwer landed a hard check on Patrick Kane.

The new center

Coach Joel Quenneville is happy with Kane’s play at center. Kane played his third consecutive game in the middle with Hossa and Andrew Brunette. “We might start [the season] like that,” Quenneville told reporters in Washington.

The coming moves

Rosters need to be finalized Wednesday. Marcus Kruger, Jimmy Hayes, Peter LeBlanc, Jeremy Morin, Philippe Paradis and Dylan Olsen are expected to be sent to Rockford. The Hawks also will decide whether Ray Emery or Alexander Salak will be the backup goalie. Brandon Pirri might be in the mix after outperforming Kruger and with Viktor Stalberg (leg) and Ben Smith (concussion) recovering from injuries and Daniel Carcillo suspended the first two games.

Updated: January 23, 2012 3:44AM

Where does John Scott fit in with the Blackhawks?

He’s no longer needed to fill in at forward, especially with seasoned tough guys Jamal Mayers and Daniel Carcillo added to the mix. He’s been told to focus on playing defense, but he’s fallen down the depth chart with Steve Montador, Sean O’Donnell and Sami Lepisto in front of him.

But Scott still has a job in the NHL, and every Hawk will tell you they feel more comfortable when he’s on their bench.

“I don’t think my job description has changed at all,” Scott said. “I’m trying to be a defenseman who can fight and protects his teammates. I’m not going to change at all.”

While the Hawks have plenty of guys capable of fighting, the 6-8 Scott remains the only heavyweight.

There will be times when he might be needed, so it looks as if the Hawks are content with keeping eight defensemen when training camp breaks. Rosters have to be finalized by 2 p.m. Wednesday.

Scott played in his third preseason game Sunday against the Washington Capitals as Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Niklas Hjalmarsson were given days off. Scott was a minus-1 in 16:05 as the Hawks lost their exhibition finale 4-1 against a Capitals lineup filled with regulars.

After the deaths of NHL enforcers Derek Boogaard, Wade Belak and Rick Rypien this summer, the value and role of fighting in the NHL was questioned again as head injuries remained a hot topic. Boogaard and Scott were close.

“I think it’s ridiculous to even talk about taking it out,” Scott said. “All those deaths had nothing to do with fighting in my opinion. It’s a moot point.”

Scott spent an ample amount of time this offseason working on his skating. The Hawks are a fast team, and he needed to keep up better. In particular, it was his strides that needed fine-tuning.

“I worked with a couple skating coaches and skill coaches for a month and a half,” Scott said.

“I’m a big guy, so as soon as I shift my weight I can totally be out of position. I worked on keeping control, keeping my feet underneath me and getting that stride out and getting going pretty quick.”

That’s not easy for a big guy.

“That first stride is way harder just because you have to get the leg inside and go,” Scott said. “These little guys, their legs just go, go, go, go. But it’s good. I worked a lot on it and I think it’s helped.”

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