Blackhawks

Frankie O's Blog: Tears

Frankie O's Blog: Tears

Friday, March 11, 2011
9:00 a.m.

By Frankie O
CSNChicago.com

Of course Miami Heat coach Eric Spoelstras comments caught the attention of everyone at the bar this week and added greatly to the derisive nature of ALL Heat conversations that I listen to at work. As far as villains go, this Heat team has got to be an all-timer. People HATE them. So while, in-over-his-head Spoelstra tried to convey how much his team cares by sharing the fact that his team was in the locker room CRYING after their heart-breaking loss to the Bulls on Sunday, his words had no such affect. In fact it was the total opposite, much like his comments the next day when he tried to spinlie his way out of it by saying he was misunderstood. No. We understand. You were making stuff up, and when you went back in the locker room and were confronted by Two and a Half Men, you understood that what you had done was very wrong. Well, for your players any way. Where I make my living, it was a great reason for additional Heat-bashing, which is just good, clean fun! Can you imagine what Kevin Garnett is going to have to say about this the next time he faces them?

Lost in all that foolishness nationally, was another stellar effort by Derrick Rose, willing his team to victory once again. After what happened in Atlanta last week, there was a lot of consternation over the fact that the Bulls were just one game over .500 on the road. As he has done after bad efforts time and again this season, he came back possessed and led the Bulls to the impressive road-double of beating both Florida teams in consecutive games on the road and giving the Bulls a 4-1 road-trip. The mind boggles in thinking how good this kid is now and where he is headed. While Ive been trying to temper my expectations on how far they can go this year, with D-Rose leading the way, who knows? Were all learning not to bet against him.

My favorite story of the week has to do with the mess at Ohio State. (The? Seems to me youre not better than anyone else!) To say that there is an air of condescension from the university or its fans is as big an under-statement that I can make. I could go on and on (I heard that!) but Ill stay for the most part in the present. First there was the Little sisters of the poor comments from university president E. Gordon Gee, when discussing the merits of non-B.C.S. schools in B.C.S. bowls. Whatever! Im sure hes a real hoot at his endowment fundraisers, but he seems a little out of touch. Or is he? He seems to realize the win-at-all-cost method of building a big-time football program that produces big-time money and helps him greatly in those endowment cocktail parties. His choice of a football coach, Jim Tressel, was a proven winner at the 1-A level, even if there were a lot of concerns over certain boosters that were on HIS sidelines. One booster was later convicted for his financial relationship with one of Tressels best players. Tressel denied any complicity and who wouldnt believe him? (LMAO!) Upon coaching at The University he won a national title in his second season. If my math is correct that would mean that he won with a lot of John Coopers players. Since then, hes been blown-out in two national title games, won 6 Big Ten Titles and compiled an 85-17 record in the last 8 seasons. Ill admit that I dont know a lot, but I would think, at that school, with that kind of record, there must be a lot of pressure to win another title and validate that the first one wasnt a fluke due to a late interference flag in over-time. As you know here, I was shocked at the audacity of the school to let 5 players who were found to be guilty of violating NCAA rules, to play in last years Rose Bowl.

Then again, it seemed to be par for the course for CheatyPants McSweaterVest. He promised that the players would pay for their mistakes buy agreeing to return to The University for next season and sitting out the first five games, when they traditionally play Mr. Gees favorite teams. He was aghast at what they had done, since he had just learned of it. Turns out that was a con-job since e-mails have been found that proved that he knew about this last April. Of course he is going to make amends by sitting out the firsttwo games of next season. This penalty is university imposed and its possible that the NCAA could impose a tougher sanction, but I wont hold my breath, Jim Calhoun and Bruce Pearl have taught us, that mis-remembering what they or their players have done, is no big deal. Say what you want, but it turns out that the coach who enjoys going by the nick-name The Senator must now realize we can use that name in its not so flattering connotation. Just one question: Dont you think that the man in charge of young men, for leading them, should face more punishment for covering-up their infractions when he knew better? Why does he only get two games? Nice message. I guess The Ohio State University really is an institution of higher learning, meaning that the higher you are, the less of what you learn, you have to share, or pay the price for.

Something Ive been asked a lot this week is my opinion on the dismissal of B.Y.U. forward Brandon Davies from the basketball team for violating their honor-code. Much to their surprise, I dont have one problem with it. Davies is a Mormon. He knew what was expected of him when he signed to play at the school. I think this is the point. Too often, see above, players and coaches are allowed to do whatever they want in the name of winning. I think its refreshing that in this, probably, its best season in basketball, EVER, that the university would stand by its ideals, even if it could cost them the opportunity to play for a national title. I guess they can take the The in front of Ohio State and put it in front of their name, Ohio State wont be needing it for a while. And let me make this clear: I could have never gone to school there! Did you see that honor code? But it is what it is, dont go if you cant abide. Makes you wonder though: How in the name of Mitt Romney, did Jim McMahon actually go to school there for four years?!!

Have you seen the video of Tom Brady dancing in Brazil? I dont know where to start. I found myself laughing and feeling very uncomfortable at the same time. I guess when Charlie Sheens out there, you can do anything you want, if you have the cash.

Finally, theres one story from this past week that I cant get out of my head, the story of Wes Leonard and Fennville (Mi) High. By now, most of you have heard the story: Wes hits game-winning shot, in over-time, to win the game and cap a perfect regular season, 20-0. Then tragedy struck. In the post-game euphoria, as the players were being gathered for a team photo, Wes was felled by an enlarged heart and is with us no more. As a parent, I cannot explain my heartache. I cry every time I read a story about it. But, were way past whats fair in this life. My only hope is that his family and friends can find a way to move on, while always remembering the gift that they were given in Wes. Needless to say, Ive been following the team as they progress through the Michigan high school state playoffs and in the wake of Wess death they have won two games and play in the District Championship game tonight. So tonight, instead of following up on the rantings of Americas Madman Charlie Sheen, maybe type in Wes Leonard into your Google search bar instead, and start to read. I think his story, and everyones around him, while tragic, are what winning is all about.

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.