Blackhawks

The 14 Pole

The 14 Pole

Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2010
2:58 PM
By Frankie O
CSNChicago.com

Thats not my heritage, although it is numerically correct, but where we stand in this NFL season. For us fantasy geeks, it presents the proper time to assess where we stand. I always expect doom, my Philly heritage is never far away, but my team, at 3-1, might surprise, so Ill give it time before I blow it up. The great thing about the NFL is that there have been a lot of surprises, Randy Moss, and more sure to come. No surprise though, that I have some opinions and here they come, its time to go through the 32 teams in 32 sentences.

Ill start with the AFC and New England, no Moss, no matter, Brady will still light it up and how could you not love Woodhead? Miami has a passing game with Marshall as the beast and Bess as a guy who should not be on your waiver wire. I think the Sanchise is the real deal for the Jets, but Id be afraid of over-use of L.T. early, leading to a late-season collapse. If youre a team that is awful, like the Bills, how could you not be playing your 1st round RB, who everyone loves, more than 10 snaps a game? (Free Spiller!) Why I still like Vince Young I dont understand, just like I dont understand the Titans offense. Peyton Manning creates fantasy monsters and in Indy this year, Austin Collie is the one. With all of the focus on the Houston aerial attack, it figures that Arian Foster is the RB with the most up-side this year.

If you see a JAX next to any player that is on your opposition, laugh out loud! Pittsburgh will always be known for its D, and its once again one of the top scoring units, a solid fantasy base. The Ravens offense to me is about as dangerous as any ones, the problem is that with so many weapons, who to take? I would normally not even consider any one playing for Cleveland, but this year Im on the Hillis Highway! In the Queen City, you live with Cedric Benson, then, you die with him! Can you imagine a Chargers game without Gates dominating? Oakland will always be a mess, but when youre mining for gold, youll find Zach Miller. I know the Chiefs are undefeated, but thats not going to last long, and neither will you if you have to depend on one of them to be your stud, besides Jamaal Charles, that is. In Denver, and in fantasy circles, neck-beards are the rage in honor of our throwing-machine, Kyle Orton!

In the NFC, I guess it will take some time here in Chicago for the Martz Express to get untracked! (LOL!) In Detroit, Mega-Tron is my boy, but if you want a sleeper, Id be all over a tight-end with a large up-side, and backside, Jumbo-Tron! Could you imagine if you wasted a high pick on the Vikings diva Brett Favre? My pick for highest point total this year, is the Packers Aaron Rogers and part of the reason is that he has my tight end, Jermichael Finley to throw to. A Warner-less offense in Arizona, means a total mess for anyone who owns a Cardinal. Picking a player from Seattle means that you trust Pete Carroll, and I do not! San Franciscos fantasy output so far reminds me of Singletarys favorite saying: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot!

In St. Louis, I must be losing my mind, but I think a rookie QB can be a fantasy team savior. In New Orleans, its all about playing Brees roulette, who will he throw to today? Carolinas has always been about the RBs and this year is no different, but the real Steve Smith just disappearing? The Falcons Matt Ryan would be my fantasy comeback player of the year, if there was such a thing. Heres a fantasy football equation: Tampa bay = Abyss. If the Giants could play the Bears every week, they would have the highest scoring defense of all-time, but I just think its a matter of time before they quit on their coach. Everyone wants my opinion about McNabb, in Washington and in fantasy, and in both instances, hell be just good enough to get you beat. That being said, it looks like hes going to be better than any QB option in Philly, where I dont think Vick will stay healthy, and who wants a QB, Kolb, who has the nickname Captain Check-down? And last, and definitely least, I will never, ever have any Cowboy on my team, not rooting against Dallas, for me, wouldnt be right and that is where my fantasy is a reality!

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' overtime loss to Lightning: Missed opportunities and one too many penalties

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' overtime loss to Lightning: Missed opportunities and one too many penalties

Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks’ 3-2 overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday night:
 
1. One too many penalties.

The Blackhawks flirted with danger in the first period when they handed the Lightning three straight continuous power plays, a four-minute double minor high-sticking penalty from John Hayden and a Jonathan Toews hooking call that resulted in a 5-on-3 opportunity for Tampa Bay for 43 seconds. 

The penalty kill unit that ranked fourth in the league entering the matchup, however, killed off all three of those penalties against the NHL's top-ranked power play, and did so in commanding fashion.

The Blackhawks went 5-for-5 on the penalty kill in regulation, but couldn't stop the sixth one — a questionable slashing call on Nick Schmaltz —  in overtime when Brayden Point buried the winner on a 4-on-3 opportunity.

It was also interesting that Jon Cooper elected to go with four forwards (Nikita Kucherov, Vladislav Namestnikov, Point and Steven Stamkos) and zero defensemen during that man advantage, putting all of his offensive weapons out on the ice. It's something more teams should do in that situation.

2. Patrick Kane gets going.

After scoring just one goal in his previous 10 games, Kane found the back of the net twice in the opening frame against Tampa Bay and stayed hot against a team he historically plays well against. And he nearly netted a hat trick in overtime but couldn't cash in on a breakaway opportunity.

Kane has 20 points (eight goals, 12 assists) in 14 career regular-season games against the Lightning, and extended his point streak to five games. He has three goals and four assists over that stretch.

We wrote about how important it is for the Blackhawks' superstars to get going again with the offensive contributions mainly coming from role players as of late, and Kane getting into a groove is a perfect step in that direction.

3. How about that goaltending battle?

Corey Crawford and Andrei Vasilevskiy showed us exactly why they belong in the Vezina Trophy discussion, and as of this moment, it's hard not to include both of them as finalists. They put on a goaltending clinic, seemingly topping the other as the game went on.

The two teams combined for 71 scoring chances, and Crawford and Vasilevskiy came up big when their teams need them the most.

Crawford finished with 35 saves on 38 shots (.921 save percentage) in the loss while Vasilevskiy stopped 29 of 31 (.935 save percentage), and improved to 15-2-1 on the season. 

4. Missed opportunities.

You couldn't have asked for a better start for the Blackhawks. They scored the first goal 3:49 into the game and the second on the power play at 15:54, killed off three penalties, including a 5-on-3, had 24 shot attempts (13 on goal) compared to the Lightning's 16 attempts (11 on goal) and led in even-strength scoring chances 9-6.

It was a different story the rest of the way.

The Blackhawks took their foot off the gas pedal a bit and let the Lightning back in the game by getting away from what they do best, and that's control the puck. Obviously, you expected the league's best offense to push back and it's certainly not an easy task to keep them off the scoresheet all together. 

But the Blackhawks had their chances to stay in front or retake the lead and just couldn't bury them. Tampa Bay had 50 shot attempts from the second period on while the Blackhawks had only 32, and finished with 44 scoring chances compared to Chicago's 27.

5. Richard Panik in the doghouse?

Joel Quenneville didn't go to his line blender in this one, but he did shorten some leashes. Panik, most notably, had a season-low 12:28 of ice time in the loss and had 15 shifts, which was second-fewest only to Ryan Hartman (13) on the team.

Panik had a prime chance to break a 2-2 tie in the third period but was denied by Vasilevskiy, who made a remarkable left-pad save. Instead, Panik extended his goal drought to 12 games and didn't get a shift in overtime.

He's certainly better and will get his scoring chances when playing on the top line with Toews and Brandon Saad, but the missed opportunities are magnified in tight losses. It doesn't look like a move down in the lineup is coming given the success of Alex DeBrincat, who gives the Blackhawks an offensive weapon on the third line, but perhaps it should be considered.

Bring your own stuffing: Jazz swat Bulls on Thanksgiving Eve

Bring your own stuffing: Jazz swat Bulls on Thanksgiving Eve

On the second (turkey) leg of a back-to-back, the Bulls didn't bring much energy in a 110-80 loss to the Utah Jazz. 

Instead of diving into the nitty-gritty of the uninspiring effort, though, we decided to just serve you up a Thanksgiving meal of highlights. Here are the top blocks from Wednesday's game: 

5. Derrick Favors is no Rudy Gobert -- that we know -- but imitation is the highest form of flattery. 

4. Are Bobby Portis chase down blocks the new LeBron James chase down blocks? Let's not get carried away... yet. We'll chalk it up to just a real nice hustle play by Bobby. 

3 and 2. Speaking of hustle plays... Jonas Jerebko isn't exactly known as a dominant defender. He sure made it hard for the Bulls on what should of been an easy fast-break bucket in the third quarter, though. First, he silenced Kris Dunn's reverse. Then, he met Lauri Markkanen at the rim and sent the rookie packing. The Baby Bulls 2.0 can blame it on fatigue, but they just handed Jerebko a highlight tape for years to come.   

1. In fairness, Jerian Grant had to get up a shot as the quarter was coming to a close. It is as vicious as it looks, though.