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Impressive record set by the Detroit Red Wings

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Impressive record set by the Detroit Red Wings

From Comcast SportsNet
DETROIT (AP) -- Red-and-white clad fans haven't seen the Detroit Red Wings lose at home in more than three months. The NHL has never seen such success at home in one season. The Red Wings beat the Dallas Stars 3-1 on Tuesday night for their 21st straight win in Detroit -- breaking the single-season mark of 20 set by Boston in the 1929-30 season and matched by Philadelphia in 1976. During the final minute of the latest home win, the crowd showered the Red Wings with a standing ovation -- and chanted, "21! 21!" "In the end when they were really cheering, before and after the buzzer went, it was a pretty cool feeling," forward Henrik Zetterberg said. Zetterberg and Brad Stuart scored midway through the first period and Detroit went on to surpass the long-standing record. After time expired, the Red Wings went to goaltender Joey MacDonald and then skated toward center ice to thank their passionate patrons by raising their sticks. Detroit extended the streak with three wins in shootouts, which became a part of the league in 2005 after the lockout and has led some to downplay the significance of this record. In the past, the Red Wings would've had to settle for ties and an unbeaten streak instead of a winning run. "There's really no way to combat that argument," Stuart said. "But still, it's an incredible accomplishment regardless of what you're going to compare it to." Since the shootout eliminated ties, the longest previous home winning streak was 14 by Boston during the 2008-09 season. Detroit's run began after a loss to Calgary on Nov. 3. Adam Burish, who scored for Dallas, said what the Red Wings have done isn't watered down by the fact they have chances to win games that used to end in ties. "I think it's harder than it was in the 70s, just because of the parity," Burish said. "There are no games where you can just show up and think you're going to win." Detroit has an NHL-high 39 wins and 80 points, but the Eastern Conference-leading New York Rangers are just a point behind and have played three fewer games. "Anytime you're in a race like we are, you need the points," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. The resurgent St. Louis Blues, steady Nashville Predators and talented Chicago Blackhawks won't make it easy for the Red Wings to win the Central Division, and top seeding in the West will likely be closely contested with the defending conference champion Vancouver Canucks. That is why the Red Wings have been more focused on the standings than the streak. "It's something we're going to cherish, but we've talked about getting more points to stay where we are in the standings," captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. MacDonald made 20 saves, filling in again for the injured Jimmy Howard, and was 32.8 seconds away from his third NHL shutout. Kari Lehtonen stopped 34 shots for the Stars. The Red Wings' next two games are at home -- Friday against Nashville, and Sunday when they host San Jose. That will give them a chance to break another record by the Bruins. Boston won 22 straight home games, spanning two seasons. The Bruins closed the 1929-30 season with 20 victories at home and then won its first two in Boston the following season. "That's something I didn't know of, but we'll refocus again and go to work again for Friday," Lidstrom said. The NBA's longest home winning streak in a season is 37, set by Chicago during the 1995-96 season. The 1978 Pittsburgh Pirates and 1988 Boston Red Sox both won 24 straight at home for baseball's longest single-season, home-winning streaks since 1919. The Miami Dolphins won 27 straight at home from 1971-74 for the NFL mark. Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said before Tuesday's game that the team wouldn't make room for a banner in Joe Louis Arena's crowded rafters if a record was set against Dallas. Holland said the club can hoist four banners each season for winning the Stanley Cup, the Presidents' Trophy, and Western Conference and Central Division titles. Detroit hopes it doesn't follow the path of the last two teams to win 20 straight at home. The Bruins eight-plus decades ago and the Flyers nearly 36 years ago were defending Stanley Cup champions and went on to lose in the finals. Detroit essentially finished off Dallas in the first half of the opening period. "We started on time," Babcock said. "I actually thought their goaltender was really good. Without him it could have been worse. "If you can play with the lead, you're always a better team." Zetterberg scored off his own rebound on the power play 7:57 in, and Stuart's wrist shot sliced through traffic from the top of the right circle 1:18 later to make it 2-0. "We made it real hard on ourselves," Burish said. "They're too good to have to chase." After the Red Wings held onto the lead rather comfortably, Jiri Hudler slipped behind the Stars on a shift change and scored with 4:49 left in the game to give Detroit a three-goal lead. NOTES: The Red Wings are shooting for Howard to return on Sunday. Howard has missed six games with a broken right index finger. ... Dallas, which is not among the top eight teams in the West, has lost three straight after winning four of six.

What Chicago sports fans should be thankful for

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USA TODAY

What Chicago sports fans should be thankful for

Families gather and people talk about things they are thankful for on Thanksgiving, but what are Chicago sports fans happy for now?

Raised expectations on the North Side

Got to be thankful that a “disappointing” season is winning the division and losing in the NLCS. The expectations have skyrocketed, and that’s thanks to a ridiculous nucleus of bats and a steady front office. Not many clubs can say that. Also, though, it’s important to be appreciative of the Wrigley bar stretch. They may charge $8 for a Miller Lite, but it’s always a damn good party.

Javy tags, too. Don't forget Javy tags.

Rebuild sparking hope in White Sox fans

Where to begin? Obviously, be thankful for the plethora of young talent that will soon take over the South Side. Be thankful for Avi Time (while you still can). Be thankful that taking your friends or family to a game won’t cause you to take out a second mortgage. Be thankful for the 2020 World Series and, of course, 2020 MVP Eloy Jimenez. But most importantly, be thankful that Rick Hahn’s phone stays buzzing.

Eddie O back in the booth for the Blackhawks

The Blackhawks are having a rough start to the season, but at least Eddie Olczyk is back in the booth. The longtime Blackhawks broadcaster returned to the booth on Oct. 18 after missing time while undergoing chemotherapy treatments for colon cancer.

With some of the key names from the Blackhawks’ title runs either leaving or being unable to play this season (in the case of Marian Hossa), Blackhawks fans are probably thankful to see a familiar face and hear a familiar voice during games.

Lauri Markkanen leading the Bulls rebuild

OK, there’s not much to be thankful for about the current Bulls team. At 3-13, the Bulls are tied for the fewest wins in the NBA (maybe in the long-term that’s something to be thankful for as well). However, Zach LaVine’s pending debut after his eventual return from injury should help create some excitement.

The thing Bulls fans really should be thankful for this year is the play of rookie Lauri Markkanen. The 20-year-old leads the team in scoring (14.6 points per game) and rebounds (8.3 per game) while shooting at a high percentage (34.2 percent on threes and 50.6 percent on twos). It’s only the beginning of the Bulls’ rebuild, but Markkanen is a good start.

Mitchapalooza

If a few things broke the Bears’ way, Chicagoans could have been grateful that the team was finally out of the cellar. Instead, we’ll settle for the fact that there seems to be some building blocks already in place. Mitchell Trubisky, Tarik Cohen, Leonard Floyd and Akiem Hicks seem to fit that category. Also, some may be thankful that this is likely John Fox’s last season at the helm.

Fire ending a playoff drought

After finishing dead last in MLS in 2015 and 2016, the Fire were one of the most improved teams in the league in 2017. After posting the third best record in the league, the Fire made a first playoff appearance since 2012.

The playoff run didn’t last long with the Fire losing a play-in game at home, but the arrival of Bastian Schweinsteiger and the league’s leading goal-scorer, Nemanja Nikolic, helped fill the stadium with six sellouts and gave Fire fans something to cheer for.

With Leonard Floyd going on injured reserve, will the Bears have a pressing need at outside linebacker in 2018?

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With Leonard Floyd going on injured reserve, will the Bears have a pressing need at outside linebacker in 2018?

The Bears placed Leonard Floyd on injured reserve Thursday morning, ending the second-year outside linebacker’s season following a knee injury suffered Sunday against the Detroit Lions. Floyd suffered an MCL and PCL injury and will have surgery in the next week, coach John Fox said, and the Bears do not have a timetable for his recovery yet. But that Floyd didn't suffer damage to his ACL is potentially good news for Floyd's recovery timetable. 

Still, with Floyd on injured reserve and out for the season, the Bears’ current outside linebacker depth chart consists of two veterans (Pernell McPhee and Sam Acho) and two practice squad signees (Isaiah Irving and Howard Jones). These final six games of the 2017 season could serve as auditions for all four players for roles on the 2018 Bears. 

If every team needs at least three good pass rushers, the Bears can count on Akiem Hicks and Floyd for 2018, provided Floyd comes back healthy. But who’s the third?

The Bears could save about $7.5 million in cap space if they release McPhee in 2018; if they were to cut ties with Willie Young, who’s on injured reserve right now as well, it would provide $4.5 million in cap relief. McPhee will be 29 in December, while Young will turn 33 next September. 

The Bears won’t necessarily need the cap relief next year, and could certainly decide to keep both players, who’ve shown they’re still productive when healthy. But even if both players are back, the Bears may need to add another outside linebacker via free agency of the draft — remember, the team could’ve began the season with Floyd, Young, McPhee, Acho and Lamarr Houston as their outside linebackers; an injury Houston suffered in the fourth preseason game ended his time in Chicago. 

Needs at wide receiver and cornerback are pressing, but outside linebacker may need to be in that same conversation. If the Bears have a top-10 pick for the fourth consecutive year, plus some cap space, they perhaps could have the ability to address all three needs in March and April. 

That may be looking a little too far into the future, though. The best-case for the Bears is McPhee finishes the season strong and Irving and/or Jones shows something in the opportunities they receive in these final six games (Jones, for what it’s worth, had five sacks as a rookie with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2015). But the worst-case — and perhaps the most realistic — is that the Bears go into the offseason needing to fill at least one pass-rushing spot.