Blackhawks

Here's the latest NBA star to miss the Olympics

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Here's the latest NBA star to miss the Olympics

From Comcast SportsNet
MIAMI (AP) -- Chris Bosh is still hurting, and his Olympic plans are being pushed aside so he can heal. The Miami Heat forward told USA Basketball on Friday that he is withdrawing from consideration for the London Games so he can continue recovering from the strained abdominal muscle that sidelined him for a portion of his team's run to the NBA championship. Bosh announced the decision through agent Henry Thomas one day after Heat teammate Dwyane Wade pulled out of the Olympic mix because of looming left knee surgery. "This injury was a pretty serious one," Thomas said. "He was able to come back and play under the circumstances because he was trying to contribute to them winning a championship. There's still pain. There's still discomfort. And the real concern is if he doesn't rest and do the rehab associated with the injury, this could become sort of a chronic thing for him." Bosh made the decision after consulting with Heat team physician Dr. Harlan Selesnick and others. Bosh, who played for the "Redeem Team" that won gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, called USA Basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski and team chairman Jerry Colangelo on Friday to deliver the word. "He wanted to be part of it," Thomas said. "It was a great experience in 08. Feels like it could be another one. The exposure he would get being part of that team is something he would like. But at the end of the day, his health going forward is more important than all of those things." Heat President Pat Riley said after the NBA draft ended late Thursday night that the team was leaving the decision on whether to play in London up to Bosh. "It's based upon the need to rest and continue to rehab the injury," Thomas said. "He got his first taste of it in 08 and it was a great experience. But I think in talking to the doctors about it, they said you could play, but you'd be putting yourself at risk." With Wade and now Bosh out, there are 16 players left for 12 spots on the U.S. Olympic team -- with LeBron James the lone Heat player left on the national team roster. The team convenes in Las Vegas next week to start training camp, then has five exhibitions with international teams before opening Olympic play against France on July 29. USA Basketball plans to announce the Olympic roster around July 7. Bosh was injured late in the first half of Game 1 of Miami's second-round series against Indiana. He wound up missing nine games, returning late in the Eastern Conference title series against the Boston Celtics. Bosh scored 19 points in Miami's Game 7 win against the Celtics, sending the Heat into the NBA Finals against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Bosh averaged 14.6 points and 9.4 rebounds in the title series, with Miami winning in five games. The championship completed an emotional two months for Bosh, who briefly left the Heat during their first-round series against New York in order to see the birth of his son. He dealt with the injury in the second round, and he and his wife mourned the death of a masseuse they employed later in the playoffs. "I think for all of us, especially for me, everything that I've been through, just fighting, just acting like I don't hear stuff, and just having the perseverance to keep pushing forward is just a sweet feeling," Bosh said last week when the Heat won the title. "I know a bunch of people made fun of me and said I was soft, but you can't be soft playing this game."

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."