Bulls

Brodeur remains calm and confident going into Game 5

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Brodeur remains calm and confident going into Game 5

NEWARK, N.J. Martin Brodeur stood atop a podium in the Devils locker room, surrounded, of course, by a media throng. Hes been here, done this so many times, and yet his attitude always remains unflappable.

Im enjoying this ride, said Brodeur on Friday, which was also his sons birthday. Defintely, Id like to have a little more success in the finals here. Were still alive, still looking to create that success and win again.

Part of the Devils Game 4 success came because of their work at the other end, as they finally got to Los Angeles goaltender Jonathan Quick. But it also had to do with the calm presence of the Devils own netminder.

Whether facing the media or facing an elimination game, Brodeurs demeanor seems to remain the same: stoic, steady, serene. Its a calm that resonates through the Devils locker room; and its one that his teammates feed off, especially facing a 3-1 deficit and elimination when they host the Los Angeles Kings here in Game 5 tomorrow night.

We feed off his composure, Devils coach Pete DeBoer said. He handles the puck so much, he has so many touches. He does it so effortlessly and without any panic in his game. And that has a real calming influence on our entire team. Theres very few moments when the pucks in your own end or around your net because of his composure.

No, theres no doubt that Brodeur is the master puck-handling goaltender. Veteran defenseman Bryce Salvador joked that when Brodeur does finally retire, my jobs going to be that much harder. But Brodeurs influence goes well beyond his job as the Devils third defenseman.

Everyone talks about the great games and that part of his character. But what I always see in him is the games hes not good and how he responds the next game, Salvador said. If he has a game where he shouldve had one or saved this one, the next game hes the best player. It shows how resolved his mind is; he doesnt worry about those mistakes. I think thats what defines a true winner and leader is his ability to overcome adversity and hes a guy who pulls everyone else out of it.

Yes, itll take more than Brodeur for the Devils to overcome this 3-1 deficit. And theyve got more confidence heading into Game 5, thanks to getting the bounces and that victory in Los Angeles. But having a presence like Brodeur is always a bonus, and a good presence to look to when things get tough.

Hes been there before and knows what it takes. We feel pretty comfortable with him in the net, the way he handles pucks and makes timely saves. Hes a competitor; he wants to win, said Travis Zajac, who added Brodeur will talk to teammates during intermissions, if need be. Its not often but when he does, you listen.

Brodeur has never wavered in his career. All that hes won, be it individual or team, has not quelled the competitive fire. If anything else its bolstered it. But he remains calm on the surface, in and out of the game. In both areas, its helped the Devils tremendously.

You have a guy who holds every record and has won everything and still has the passion to win at this point in his career, and if you ask him he still feels he can play next year and the year after and the year after, Salvador said. That alone is uplifting.

Three Things to Watch: Bulls dance with Warriors

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Three Things to Watch: Bulls dance with Warriors

Is there any better way to break in your new Black Friday television than Bulls-Warriors tonight? We think not. Coverage starts at 9 p.m. with Bulls Pregame Live, and the game is also available to stream via the NBC Sports app

Here are three things to keep your eye on: 

1. Not the score. Let's be honest: the Bulls probably won't sneak out a win at the Oracle. In fact, ESPN's matchup predictor only gives Fred Hoiberg's young squad a 2.9 percent chance to come up victorious. UIC has three times better odds against juggernaut Kentucky at Rupp Arena on Sunday, in case you needed some context.  

With the talent gap in mind, though, it will be important for the Bulls to come out with high energy. The Warriors will likely take the contest lightly in the first half, so starting off strong reflects well on the coaching staff and starters. Stay within 10 points by the half, and that's considered a massive triumph. 

2. Lauri Markkanen vs. Draymond Green? Assuming the Dubs start out with Green on Markkanen, this will be rookie's biggest test of the season. Green is an elite defender, capable of wrecking gameplans from the tip. He's physical, quick and athletic. 

Markkanen is coming off two duds on the West Coast trip, but his aggressiveness hasn't wavered. It'll be important for him to continue to attack even with the reigning Defensive Player of the Year hounding him. 

3. Steph, KD and Klay doin' work. The Bulls offense hasn't exactly been a thing of beauty through the first 16 games. Their offensive rating is a brutal 94.4, ranked last in the NBA. Golden State, on the other hand, sits at the top with a rating of 113.1. 

Take some time to admire the skills of Steph Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson because when it comes to working cohesively on offense, they've set the gold standard. 

What Chicago sports fans should be thankful for

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USA TODAY

What Chicago sports fans should be thankful for

Families gather and people talk about things they are thankful for on Thanksgiving, but what are Chicago sports fans happy for now?

Raised expectations on the North Side

Got to be thankful that a “disappointing” season is winning the division and losing in the NLCS. The expectations have skyrocketed, and that’s thanks to a ridiculous nucleus of bats and a steady front office. Not many clubs can say that. Also, though, it’s important to be appreciative of the Wrigley bar stretch. They may charge $8 for a Miller Lite, but it’s always a damn good party.

Javy tags, too. Don't forget Javy tags.

Rebuild sparking hope in White Sox fans

Where to begin? Obviously, be thankful for the plethora of young talent that will soon take over the South Side. Be thankful for Avi Time (while you still can). Be thankful that taking your friends or family to a game won’t cause you to take out a second mortgage. Be thankful for the 2020 World Series and, of course, 2020 MVP Eloy Jimenez. But most importantly, be thankful that Rick Hahn’s phone stays buzzing.

Eddie O back in the booth for the Blackhawks

The Blackhawks are having a rough start to the season, but at least Eddie Olczyk is back in the booth. The longtime Blackhawks broadcaster returned to the booth on Oct. 18 after missing time while undergoing chemotherapy treatments for colon cancer.

With some of the key names from the Blackhawks’ title runs either leaving or being unable to play this season (in the case of Marian Hossa), Blackhawks fans are probably thankful to see a familiar face and hear a familiar voice during games.

Lauri Markkanen leading the Bulls rebuild

OK, there’s not much to be thankful for about the current Bulls team. At 3-13, the Bulls are tied for the fewest wins in the NBA (maybe in the long-term that’s something to be thankful for as well). However, Zach LaVine’s pending debut after his eventual return from injury should help create some excitement.

The thing Bulls fans really should be thankful for this year is the play of rookie Lauri Markkanen. The 20-year-old leads the team in scoring (14.6 points per game) and rebounds (8.3 per game) while shooting at a high percentage (34.2 percent on threes and 50.6 percent on twos). It’s only the beginning of the Bulls’ rebuild, but Markkanen is a good start.

Mitchapalooza

If a few things broke the Bears’ way, Chicagoans could have been grateful that the team was finally out of the cellar. Instead, we’ll settle for the fact that there seems to be some building blocks already in place. Mitchell Trubisky, Tarik Cohen, Leonard Floyd and Akiem Hicks seem to fit that category. Also, some may be thankful that this is likely John Fox’s last season at the helm.

Fire ending a playoff drought

After finishing dead last in MLS in 2015 and 2016, the Fire were one of the most improved teams in the league in 2017. After posting the third best record in the league, the Fire made a first playoff appearance since 2012.

The playoff run didn’t last long with the Fire losing a play-in game at home, but the arrival of Bastian Schweinsteiger and the league’s leading goal-scorer, Nemanja Nikolic, helped fill the stadium with six sellouts and gave Fire fans something to cheer for.