Blackhawks

Can we blame the Rose injury on NBA schedule?

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Can we blame the Rose injury on NBA schedule?

From Comcast SportsNet
The NBA's compressed schedule, with 66 games in four months followed by one day off before the playoffs, was tough on everyone. Did it cause more injuries? "Yeah, probably," Chicago's Joakim Noah said. "Probably." What about the torn ACLs that ended the season for Derrick Rose and Iman Shumpert on Saturday? Unlikely, said a surgeon. "There is no evidence that wear and tear, or that kind of issue, playing too much, really has any correlation with ACL injuries in any sport that we've ever studied," Dr. David Altchek from the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York said Sunday. Rose, last season's MVP, was hurt in the final minutes of Chicago's Game 1 victory over Philadelphia, and the Knicks' Shumpert went down a short while later. The blame game started soon after, with many pointing the finger at the hectic post-lockout schedule. Boston center Jermaine O'Neal, whose season ended early after wrist surgery, wrote on his Twitter page that it was a "clear sign" of fatigued bodies from a condensed season, writing "2 torn acl injuries to key players!" But Altchek argues that too much playing could actually make a player less susceptible to the injuries that Rose and Shumpert sustained, because they might lack the type of explosiveness it takes to blow out a knee ligament. "In fact, I think if you're tired, you're a lot less likely to tear your ACL because you're not going to be as explosive," said Altchek, who has operated on players such as Josh Howard, David West and Purdue's Robbie Hummel, and been a consultant for the NBA. NBA players and owners settled on a 66-game schedule starting on Christmas when they settled the lockout during Thanksgiving weekend. Though perhaps ambitious, both sides saw it as a way to make back as much lost revenue as possible. Spokesman Tim Frank said that with respect to the season, the league had "ongoing discussions with team doctors and athletic trainers about best practices and planning for injuries." The revised schedule amounted to about two extra games a month for teams, from 14 to 16. Though the league said the injury rate was about the same as in a normal 82-game season, players say they felt a difference. "This has been a compressed season, a lot more games, a lot less practice time, a lot less recovery time," Knicks guard Baron Davis said. "You can definitely look at the season and just look at the schedule and say that guys really never got the ample amount of time to rest and heal their bones because you're fighting for playoff position. It's game after game after game. So, you know, it's tough. But there's injuries, there's freak injuries in basketball that's always happening." They've knocked out players such as Dwight Howard, Al Horford, Andrew Bogut, Jeremy Lin and Stephen Curry, but most were injuries that could come from excessive usage, such as sprains and strains. Alchek said ACL tears, far more common in female athletes, are scary injuries in that there's little explanation for how to prevent them. He said the non-contact version that both Rose and Shumpert sustained are often more prevalent in the strongest, healthiest athletes. Contact ACL tears, Altchek said, are the kind that can happen to a football player hit on the side of the knee. But Rose was jumping to stop when he was injured, and Shumpert was trying to maneuver with a behind-the-back dribble when he crumbled to the court. Both players battled injuries during the season, with Rose missing 27 games for groin, back, toe, foot and ankle problems. There was a mixture of anger and sympathy around the NBA when the popular reigning MVP went down, possibly taking the Bulls' title hopes with him. Bulls general manager Gar Forman said Rose's previous injuries or the schedule did not lead to the ACL tear. But players don't seem so certain. "There's a lot of speculation. And it doesn't matter. We're in this season, we played the games, we're in the playoffs now. Hopefully no one else goes down with these type of injuries," Miami's Dwyane Wade said. "It's not anything that we want to see for none of our players to go down with injuries. So you don't know. You don't know if it was because of the condensed season. You don't know what the case may be. The biggest thing is that them guys get healthy." Twitter became a forum for debate about the schedule's role even before Rose and Shumpert were in their hospital rooms. Former player and ESPN analyst Jalen Rose listed some players that had gone down, putting the blame on the schedule. For some injuries, it may have been. Just not the two from Saturday. "There really is no evidence of that, in any athlete, that wear and tear, like gradual wearing away of the ACL, is an issue in terms of the injury," Altchek said.

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.