Blackhawks

Frankie O: Shots Anyone?

Frankie O: Shots Anyone?

By Frankie O
CSNChicago.com

As we all well know, shots are great because they get to the point. What that point is, however, can be debated. But always, and theres no debate, they should be served by your friendly bar professional!

Tic-Tac-Toe? While that game for kids is very predictable, well for some, so too should be the Bulls handling of Derrick Rose and his injured Sgt. Hulka. While there might be some animated discussions over what the injury is and how it was handled last weekend, he needs to sit until its healed. End of story. We all knew that players would get hurt and rushed back during this compressed NBA torture-test, I mean shortened season, but the Franchise cannot be put at long-term risk. I know Kobes getting shot-up to play, but not in his feet. (Ironic. Hes taking more shots, so he can take many more shots!) If the Bulls truly do have depth, they will be able to weather the storm for a while. Besides, arent the backup point guards averaging like 28 points a game in his absence?

Put up, or for the love of all that is good, SHUT UP! I think a lot of us have a strange fascination with Rex Ryan. (No, Im not talking to those good little foot soldiers out there!) Hard Knocks was a lot of fun, and humanized, through F-bombs, the guy who was perceived to be a blow-hard who didnt fall too far from the tree. At first, I thought his father was funny too, in a very twisted way- a no-nonsense leader of men that would not take crap from anyone. As his teams repeatedly under-achieved in the playoffs though, the act wore thin. Win or go home! Same with Rex. He seemed the perfect fit for New Yorks other team. The little doggie with the big bark. Well, the kennel has turned on the master. As always with the Ryans, it will be great theater and at least for me it wont be my team imploding this time!

ILL-ANNOYED Good thing the Illini had time to come back down to earth after the thrilling Brandon Paul Show against Ohio State . His 43 point effort in a 79-74 win on January 10th was a signature moment. As usual though, I take any Illinois success -didnt the football team start 6-0?- with a grain of salt before I can commit. But even I thought a trip to Penn State would not present much of a challenge for the 1st place squad. Think again! The only thing Illinois teams lack as they drive me crazy is the word PHILADELPHIA printed on the front of their jerseys!

PENN STATE SHAME Even a Penn State victory cant make me feel any better. I still feel a sense of loss, then a sense of guilt whenever I see anything about the university. The road show put on by University President Rodney Erickson has only added to that. I dont know that much about him, other than it takes a lot of guts to go in front of angry masses without answers they want to hear, but his lack of vision towards what has to be done is unsettling. Also unsettling was reading The New York Times interviews with 12 trustees, including board chairman Steve A. Garban, as they tried to explain their actions in the wake of the crisis. I still cant get past that no one knew anything. This whole episode is a blind-side hit, even as the local paper was reporting about the grand jury in MAY, and, by law, former president Graham Spanier was allowed to notify them of his own testimony before that grand jury previous to that. The trustees admitted that, according to the Times article, they had received a briefing on the grand jury from university council Cynthia Baldwin in May. What? Thats not exactly stuff you hear every day, or is it? Again, there were four different investigations into another accusation in 1998. Whos paying attention? Heres a quote from the article I find particularly disturbing: After finally reading the grand jury report almost 36 hours AFTER Sanduskys arrest chairman Garban regretted not reading it sooner according to the Times. It was like, Oh my God Steve, whereve you been? It floored me. Whereve you been, indeed?

OH NO YU DIINT! While baseball is better with one vision, that vision better include a lot of pitching, and I mean a lot! (A little defense and plate discipline make it better too!!) With that in mind I was a little surprised that the Cubs didnt make a play for Yu Darvish. I mean, he is 26 and all he would cost is cash. But that was the Boston way, not the Chicago one. Besides, what did Boston get for their 100 million spent on Dice-K? He was part of the 2007 title team in his first season, he won 15 games as the 3rd starter, and went 1-1 in the playoffs, albeit averaging 4.2 innings a start and just around 5 earned runs a game. That was an investment that you made when you were going all-in. Looked good in 2008 when he went 18-3, but since then his win totals have been 4-9-3 per season, leading to a public outcry about money misspent. I dont think Theo wants to go down that road again even if this kid is supposed to be better. Where have we heard that before?! Oh, thats right, with Koske Fukudome! Wasnt he supposed to be a cross between Ichiro and Matsui? Howd that work out? 48 million worth of disappointment, thats how. And to think Kenny Williams offered him 40! I still think he laughs about how lucky he was not to win that bidding war, at least when hes not thinking about Alex Rios or Adam Dunn. Kenny is better with the Cubans. And I wonder if well see the two sides of town bidding against each other once again. Cuban defectors Yoennis Cespedes and Jorge Soler are in the Dominican awaiting citizenship so they can be promptly bid on by MLB teams. Embargo? What embargo? If only we could do the same with cigars! Although, I swear Ive been sold Cubans in Dominican wrappers! (Kramer!) You know Kenny would love to have these guys, but can he afford to spend for them? And what better way to announce your arrival here, Theo, than with a signature move towards the future? This would be the type of move we should expect to be made on the Northside: Big-time investment in big-time young talent. (According to Fausto Carmona theyre 25 and 19 respectively. Oops, wait a minute.) Plus, if you can beat the White Sox while doing it, all the better. And since the draft door is closing due to the slotting system, this is an opportunity they cant pass up.

A COUPLE OF QUICKIES FOR THE ROAD

Is it me or should Rob Lowe stay away from social media?

Ryan Braun is getting the worst advice ever if he accepts his MVP award before being exonerated.

Its still tough to watch golf without Tiger.

A real Bears fan can NEVER root for the Packers. NEVER!

Is it me, or is there NO reaction to the changes being made at Wrigley?

No offense, but my approval at the exit of Jerry Angelo is gone if they did this just to promote Tim Ruskell. Seems to me that would be more of the same. To do something bold, you need to do something bold. Go the distance! Ease our pain!

In picks surely to be wrong: New England minus the 7 and San Fran minus the 2 .

Brady is locked in and I dont think that Baltimore has an answer for Gronk and Welker.

And I find it hard to believe that EVERYONE THAT I TALK TO is right about the Giants. I havent believed in the Niners all year, but I do now. (K.O.D.!!)

And finally, for the last time this season: TEBOW!!!!!

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks hit road to face Blue Jackets

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NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks hit road to face Blue Jackets

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. One big reunion.

The Blackhawks will square off with the Blue Jackets for the first time since Oct. 7, which was the second game of the season. In that game, they won 5-1 led by Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Brandon Saad, each of whom scored a goal and added an assist.

Of course, that was the first game since the offseason trade that sent Artemi Panarin to Columbus and Saad back to Chicago, along with Anton Forsberg. Artem Anisimov, of course, was part of the original deal that sent Saad to Columbus in 2015, so there are a lot of emotional ties between the two teams.

Forsberg didn't get a chance to face the Blue Jackets in the first meeting, but there's a chance he will this time with it being the second of a back-to-back and Jean-Francois Berube getting the start in Friday's 3-1 win over San Jose.

2. Panarin and Kane bromance.

The emotions of a difficult break-up have probably died down by now, but Panarin and Kane gave us this moment at center ice during pregame warmups in their first game against each other and it hit Chicago right in the feels:

Panarin has spent enough time apart from Kane for people to realize how big of a star he is in his own right, leading the Blue Jackets in all three scoring categories: goals (17), assists (32) and points (49).

He hasn't gone more than three games this season without recording a point, and is looking to extend his point streak to four games, which would tie a season high.

3. Struggling Blue Jackets special teams.

The Blue Jackets got off to a great start but are barely clinging onto a wild card spot going into Saturday's game, and a big reason for that slide is their lack of success on special teams. Usually one can pick up the slack for the other, but they've been brutal in both departments.

The Blue Jackets are 0-for-9 on the power play in their past five games and are ranked 31st overall, converting on only 14.1 percent of their opportunities. They also have own the 27th-ranked penalty kill with a 76.3 percent success rate.

So if there's an area the Blackhawks can exploit, it's that. But, you know, still be mindful of that Russian winger's one-timer from the faceoff circle.

Jean-Francois Berube impressed in his first Blackhawks start

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USA TODAY

Jean-Francois Berube impressed in his first Blackhawks start

Jean-Francois Berube got his first start of the season on Friday night, and it couldn't have gone any better.

The 26-year-old goaltender stopped 42 of 43 shots, a career-high for him in saves, in the Blackhawks' 3-1 win over the San Jose Sharks at the United Center.

Since Corey Crawford went down with a head injury last December, the Blackhawks have been searching for consistency in the crease. 

The pair of Anton Forsberg and Jeff Glass — who was assigned to Rockford on Feb. 15 and replaced with Berube — have had their ups and downs since then. With the Blackhawks out of the playoff picture, Berube had an opportunity showcase his skills, and he didn't disappoint.

"We were very happy with him," said coach Joel Quenneville. "I thought he did a great job. He was comfortable. I thought he was very patient in his net. Absorbing a lot of pucks with people in front of him was good. Closed some gaps and got … of the top of the paint. Rebound control was effective. Nice response from a long absence."

Berube's last — and only — appearance with the Blackhawks prior to Friday's game came on Dec. 6, relieving Forsberg in a game against the Washington Capitals. He recorded 12 saves of 14 shots. 

When Crawford got injured, Berube was the primary candidate to become the team's backup goaltender. The only problem? He was injured too, so the Blackhawks promoted Glass.

"I didn't want to sit and think about it," Berube said of his injury. "At the same time, it was great for Glasser. He was one of those guys that probably deserved it earlier in his career and he finally got his chance. Sometimes you need a guy to go down to have your chance. So I was mostly happy for him.

On Friday night, he got his chance.

"You always want to have a good impression for your first game," Berube said. "I know what I can do at this level, so it was just a matter of getting the opportunity to play and showing people what I can do."

Celebrating his 22nd birthday, Nick Schmaltz also had a goal and an assist. Artem Anisimov scored an empty-netter.

"It's a lot more fun coming to the rink when you're winning, enjoying each other, playing well as a team," Schmaltz said of the Blackhawks' win, which have now won three of their last four games. "Hopefully we can keep that good energy and bring it to the rink every day, and build off of that.

"You never know where this team can go, a lot of great players, lots of guys that have had a lot of success. Hopefully we can continue to put together solid efforts."