Blackhawks

Dempster wont point any fingers

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Dempster wont point any fingers

CINCINNATI Ryan Dempster understands what its like to walk off the mound alone, knowing that you cost your team the game.

Dempster did this job before, so he wasnt going to point fingers at Cubs closer Carlos Marmol after Thursdays 4-3 loss to the Cincinnati Reds in 10 innings.

Dempsters eight scoreless at Great American Ball Park were ruined by Marmols meltdown in the ninth.

I know hes really struggling to find the strike zone and get where he needs to be, Dempster said. Hell get there. You just got to keep working hard and you got to push through it.

You got one of two ways to go: You can either back down and be afraid of the challenge, or you can take the challenge head-on. Hopefully, he does that.

On his 35th birthday, Dempster came off the disabled list and showed no signs of a quad injury and reminded everyone that he still has something left.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this was the first time in major-league history that two starting pitchers faced off on their birthday (Homer Bailey turned 26).

Dempster refuses to think in these terms, at least publicly. One of the most accessible players on the team doesnt want to hear about his age or contract status.

Dempster has tunnel vision, never looking beyond his next start. His timeline is always five days out.

Its fun, man, Dempster said. I feel really good out there. I just want to keep trying to do my job the best I can and give us a chance to win. Ill hopefully have more games like today. Thats all Im trying to do.

Dempster is making 14 million, has no-trade rights and can become a free agent at seasons end. He has a 0.95 ERA through four starts, and zero wins.

Itll come, he said.

Dempster has a kids enthusiasm for games, watching his friend Danny Briere and the Philadelphia Flyers practice last weekend in the middle of the NHL playoffs.

Dempster is generous with time and information, inviting younger pitchers to train with him in Arizona during the offseason. They say hes difficult to keep up with, showing them what it takes to stick at this level.

But Dempster said he had no plans to approach Marmol once the team got back to Chicago. He did offer another vote of confidence for the embattled closer.

I know how that goes, Dempster said. If he wants advice, Ill give him the best (advice) I can.

You just got to keep working hard. You cant give up. You cant try and will it to happen. You got to make it happen. That comes through hard work and hell do that. You just got to tackle it head-on and try to find a way to get it done.

The Cubs (9-16) will have to come up with something quick. Two of the best teams in the National League the Los Angeles Dodgers and Atlanta Braves are coming into Wrigley Field for a six-game stand that begins Friday.

We can either hang our heads and sulk, Dempster said, or we can accept what happened today and learn from it and move on and win a game tomorrow.

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks face Golden Knights for first time

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Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks face Golden Knights for first time

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Vegas Golden Knights Tuesday on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 8:45 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Corey Crawford vs. ... Oscar Dansk? 

The Golden Knights have seen both Marc-Andre Fleury and Malcolm Subban go down with injuries, so they're scraping for goaltenders at this point.

On one end of the ice, you have one of the best netminders in the league and a two-time Stanley Cup champion in Crawford. On the other, you have a 23-year-old rookie in Dansk making his first official NHL start who will be backed up by a 24-year-old rookie in Maxime Lagace, who has never appeared in an NHL game.

In his first game action, Dansk stopped 10 of 11 shots in relief during Saturday's 3-2 overtime win over St. Louis.

2. Fast start.

The Blackhawks are tied for second in both goals scored (13) and fewest goals allowed (four) in the first period, which has a large reason for their early season success.

The Golden Knights aren't the kind of team that gets out to a blazing start. They've allowed only five goals in the opening frame, but they've scored only five as well, which ranks among the bottom 10 teams in the league. 

3. Beware of James Neal.

The Golden Knights became the first team in NHL history to win six of their first seven games of their inaugural season. And they probably don't have half of those wins if it weren't for Neal, who scored the game-winning goal in each of their first three games.

He leads the club with six goals and eight points, and serves as the motor for a team that doesn't have much offensive talent. He's the go-to guy, and somebody you have to keep an eye on when he's on the ice.

 

Three Things to Watch: Bulls square off against LeBron and the Cavaliers

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Three Things to Watch: Bulls square off against LeBron and the Cavaliers

Here are Three Things to Watch in the Bulls' Tuesday night tilt against the Cavaliers on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. with Bulls Pregame Live.

1. LeBron James will be on your television

Love him or hate him, LeBron James is must-see TV. Now in his 15th NBA season, James has shown no signs of slowing down. Despite playing just one preseason game (against the Bulls), James has shown anything but rust in three games, averaging 25.0 points on 60 percent shooting, 8.3 rebounds and 6.3 assists in nearly 37 minutes. He's a threat every night to do something you've never seen on a basketball court, His Airness included. Justin Holiday and Paul Zipser will have their hands full against the game's best player.

2. Lauri Markkanen, Week 2

Small sample size alert! But through the season's first week Markkanen and Ben Simmons are the only rookies averaging a double-double (Dallas' Dennis Smith has played just one game, averaging 16 points and 10 assists). While the Bulls have struggled through two games, Markkanen's net rating is third best on the team and he leads the Bulls bigs in rebounds per game and rebound percentage. Markkanen has shown some versatility offensively, and his 7 free-throw attempts have been a nice surprise as well.

3. Don't forget: The Bulls swept the Cavaliers last year

OK, so expecting a victory Tuesday night in Cleveland isn't smart. The Bulls will be underdogs just like they were in each of the four games last season, all of which were Bulls winners. It was the first time in 52 division series that LeBron James had been swept, which is pretty remarkable considering the Bulls were the No. 8 seed and the Cavs coasted to a third straight NBA Finals. We're not over here predicting a win. But just remember: the Bulls have fared well against James in the regular season.