Cubs

Game 2 delay doesn't sit well with Devils, Kings

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Game 2 delay doesn't sit well with Devils, Kings

NEWARK, N.J. When youre a part of any playoffs, there are some things you just have to deal with. Injuries and fatigue are two of them.

A gap-filled schedule is another.

The Los Angeles Kings and New Jersey Devils will finally get back to hockey Saturday night, when they play Game 2 of their Stanley Cup Final matchup at the Prudential Center. The teams had two days in between Games 1 and 2, which has its plusses and minuses. Yes, guys who are dinged up and plenty are at this time of the year can get an extra days rest.

But its also about playing the waiting game, and not everyone is a fan of it. The team that wins the previous game wants to get back out there and build off that momentum. The team that loses usually wants to get out there and erase the taste left from that game.

Either way, playing is always better than practicing. Or sitting. Or waiting. Same can go for coaches, too.

I dont think its a perfect scenario, all the days off, New Jersey coach Peter DeBoer said Saturday morning. You want to play. You get tired, as coaches, of looking at tape and analyzing. You can analyze to death. From a players perspective, theres this nervous energy and the only release is dropping the puck and playing. I dont think it favors either side. It is what it is and you deal with it.

Devils center Adam Henrique concurred.

I guess after one game its different. You usually expect (an extra day off) after game 2 or 3, but thats out of our control, he said. Theres nothing we can do about it.

Even heading into this series each team had their time off. The Devils had four days off after beating the New York Rangers in six games. The Kings had a week off after dispatching the Phoenix Coyotes in five. If nothing else, the Kings are more used to this day off-filled schedule this postseason. The Staples Center was a very busy place through April and May, with the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers also there for their respective playoff series. Both NBA teams were eliminated in the second round.

Only difference now is the Kings are working the long layoff on the road.

Its more difficult, maybe, when youre not at home. But thats part of it, Kings forward Dustin Brown said. Its just staying focused. We get away, we do a couple things as a team. Its easy to come back here and get focused. Guys dont need extra attention or push. We just stick to our routine and get ready to go.

The extra day is nice sometimes. But there are two teams who are determined to win a Cup who dont want to wait any longer to play. Time to drop the puck again.

Addison Russell is so over 2017: 'That's last year, don't want to talk about that'

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USA TODAY

Addison Russell is so over 2017: 'That's last year, don't want to talk about that'

MESA, Ariz. — “That’s last year, don’t want to talk about that.”

In other words, Addison Russell is so over 2017.

The Cubs shortstop went through a lot last year. He dealt with injuries that affected his foot and shoulder. He had a well-documented off-the-field issue involving an accusation of domestic abuse, which sparked an investigation by Major League Baseball. And then came the trade speculation.

The hot stove season rarely leaves any player completely out of online trade discussion. But after Theo Epstein admitted there was a possibility the Cubs could trade away one or more young position players to bolster the starting rotation, well, Russell’s name came up.

And he saw it.

“There was a lot of trade talk,” Russell said Saturday. “My initial thoughts were, I hope it doesn’t happen, but wherever I go, I’m going to try to bring what I bring to the table here. It’s a good thing that it doesn’t have to be that way. I’m happy being in a Cubs uniform, I want to be in a Cubs uniform, for sure. But there was some talk out there. If I got traded, then I got traded, but that’s not the case.”

No, it’s not, as the Cubs solved those pitching questions with free-agent spending, bringing in Yu Darvish and Tyler Chatwood to replace the departed Jake Arrieta and John Lackey. It means Russell, along with oft-discussed names like Kyle Schwarber, Ian Happ and Javy Baez, are all still Cubs.

While the outside world might have expected one of those guys to be moved in some sort of blockbuster trade for Chris Archer or some other All-Star arm, the Cubs’ young core remains intact, another reason why they’re as much a favorite to win the World Series as any team out there.

“I’m really not surprised. The core is still here. Who would want to break that up? It’s a beautiful thing,” Russell said. “Javy and I in the middle. Schwarber, sometimes playing catcher but mainly outfield. And then (Kris Bryant) over there in the hot corner, and of course (Anthony) Rizzo at first. You’ve got a Gold Glover in right field (Jason Heyward). It’s really hard to break that up.

“When you do break that down on paper, we’ve got a lineup that could stack up with the best.”

This winter has been about moving on for Russell, who said he’s spent months working to strengthen his foot and shoulder after they limited him to 110 games last season, the fewest he played in his first three big league campaigns.

And so for Russell, the formula for returning to his 2016 levels of offensive aptitude isn’t a difficult one: stay on the field.

“Especially with the injuries, I definitely wanted to showcase some more of my talent last year than I displayed,” Russell said. “So going into this year, it’s mainly just keeping a good mental — just staying level headed. And also staying healthy and producing and being out there on the field.

“Next step for me, really just staying out there on the field. I really want to see what I can do as far as helping the team if I can stay healthy for a full season. I think if I just stay out there on the field, I’m going to produce.”

While the decrease in being on the field meant lower numbers from a “counting” standpoint — the drop from 21 homers in 2016 to 12 last year, the drop from 95 RBIs to 43 can in part be attributed to the lower number of games — certain rate stats looked different, too. His on-base percentage dropped from .321 in 2016 to .304 last year.

Russell also struggled during the postseason, picking up just six hits in 36 plate appearances in series against the Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers. He struck out 13 times in 10 postseason games.

Of course, he wasn’t alone. That World Series hangover was team-wide throughout the first half of the season. And even though the Cubs scored 824 runs during the regular season, the second most in the National League and the fourth most in baseball, plenty of guys had their offensive struggles: Schwarber, Heyward and Ben Zobrist, to name a few.

“You can’t take anything for granted. So whenever you win a World Series or you do something good, you just have to live in the moment,” Russell said. “It was a tough season last year because we were coming off winning the World Series and the World Series hangover and all that. This year, we had a couple months off, a couple extra weeks off, and I think a lot of guys took advantage of that. I know I did. And now that we’re here in spring training, we’re going to get back at it.”

Five top-25 matchups highlight loaded episode of High School Lites

Five top-25 matchups highlight loaded episode of High School Lites

High School Lites had five matchups between top-25 teams on Friday night as the Public League Playoff semifinals and big matchups in the CSL South, Catholic League Blue and SouthWest Suburban Blue took shape.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter @NBCSPreps for the latest news and scores for IHSA basketball.

Wintrust Athlete of the Week: Palatine's Eduardo Orozco

Saint Xavier Team of the Week: Maine West girls basketball

Highlights

No. 1 Simeon holds off No. 4 Whitney Young

No. 2 Orr gets revenge on No. 3 Curie

No. 9 New Trier takes down No. 6 Evanston

No. 8 Fenwick handles No. 10 Loyola Academy

No. 23 Homewood-Flossmoor rallies past No. 18 Bolingbrook

Oswego East upsets No. 20 Joliet Central

Andrew shuts down Thornridge

Sandburg tops Lockport in OT

Richards runs by Shepard

Maine West captures second straight girls basketball regional title