Blackhawks

Ozzie sees MVP potential in Castro

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Ozzie sees MVP potential in Castro

MIAMI After Starlin Castro saw the World Series rings the St. Louis Cardinals received, he thought about how good one of those would look with a Cubs logo.

Even though the Cubs shortstop plays for a franchise burdened by history, he looks at the game in terms of: Why not?

Ozzie Guillen knows as well as anyone what its like to play shortstop in Chicago, and the expectations that come with that. The Miami Marlins manager sees a 22-year-old with the potential to win some serious hardware.

Can he win the MVP? Yes, because he can do a lot of things offensively, Guillen said Wednesday. The tools are there. I hope its going to be my guy (Hanley Ramirez). But this kid definitely is going to be one of the top players in the National League. Theres no doubt.

Castro began the day hitting .372 with seven RBIs in 11 games. He was tied for the major-league lead in steals with seven, a sign of how his game has evolved.

Castro already has two .300 seasons on his resume. Ramirez, by comparison, was 22 during his rookie year in the majors.

This kid is going to have a chance to make a lot of money, Guillen said. In Chicago, people talk about the mistakes he made a couple years ago and other stuff, not being in the game (mentally).

Thats going to come from the process. But youre not going to see many kids come to the big leagues and do what this kid does on the field hit for power, average, steal bases. I mean youre 20-something years old and youre batting third with no problem, with confidence? That comes with talent.

Dont take that for granted. Some will talk about Castro eventually switching positions, because he committed 56 errors in his first two seasons combined, plus four more already this month. But thats selling him short.

The Cubs have the rare opportunity to build their team around an elite shortstop for the next decade.

This kids only 22 years old. I mean, are you going to have the full package right away as a player? Guillen said. You got to give him some time. Hes got a great arm. Hes got very good instincts. Hes going to make errors. You cut errors with experience.

There are good errors and bad errors. (You) got to cut the bad errors, mental errors. But the physical errors are going to be there because hes so talented. Hes going to get balls nobody can get.

Guillen laughed when he thought of one more reason to like Castros upside.

Hes got a great chance to be a great one not a good one, Guillen said before smiling. Plus, hes No. 13. Thats going to help.

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks face Golden Knights for first time

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Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks face Golden Knights for first time

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Vegas Golden Knights Tuesday on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 8:45 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Corey Crawford vs. ... Oscar Dansk? 

The Golden Knights have seen both Marc-Andre Fleury and Malcolm Subban go down with injuries, so they're scraping for goaltenders at this point.

On one end of the ice, you have one of the best netminders in the league and a two-time Stanley Cup champion in Crawford. On the other, you have a 23-year-old rookie in Dansk making his first official NHL start who will be backed up by a 24-year-old rookie in Maxime Lagace, who has never appeared in an NHL game.

In his first game action, Dansk stopped 10 of 11 shots in relief during Saturday's 3-2 overtime win over St. Louis.

2. Fast start.

The Blackhawks are tied for second in both goals scored (13) and fewest goals allowed (four) in the first period, which has a large reason for their early season success.

The Golden Knights aren't the kind of team that gets out to a blazing start. They've allowed only five goals in the opening frame, but they've scored only five as well, which ranks among the bottom 10 teams in the league. 

3. Beware of James Neal.

The Golden Knights became the first team in NHL history to win six of their first seven games of their inaugural season. And they probably don't have half of those wins if it weren't for Neal, who scored the game-winning goal in each of their first three games.

He leads the club with six goals and eight points, and serves as the motor for a team that doesn't have much offensive talent. He's the go-to guy, and somebody you have to keep an eye on when he's on the ice.

 

Three Things to Watch: Bulls square off against LeBron and the Cavaliers

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Three Things to Watch: Bulls square off against LeBron and the Cavaliers

Here are Three Things to Watch in the Bulls' Tuesday night tilt against the Cavaliers on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. with Bulls Pregame Live.

1. LeBron James will be on your television

Love him or hate him, LeBron James is must-see TV. Now in his 15th NBA season, James has shown no signs of slowing down. Despite playing just one preseason game (against the Bulls), James has shown anything but rust in three games, averaging 25.0 points on 60 percent shooting, 8.3 rebounds and 6.3 assists in nearly 37 minutes. He's a threat every night to do something you've never seen on a basketball court, His Airness included. Justin Holiday and Paul Zipser will have their hands full against the game's best player.

2. Lauri Markkanen, Week 2

Small sample size alert! But through the season's first week Markkanen and Ben Simmons are the only rookies averaging a double-double (Dallas' Dennis Smith has played just one game, averaging 16 points and 10 assists). While the Bulls have struggled through two games, Markkanen's net rating is third best on the team and he leads the Bulls bigs in rebounds per game and rebound percentage. Markkanen has shown some versatility offensively, and his 7 free-throw attempts have been a nice surprise as well.

3. Don't forget: The Bulls swept the Cavaliers last year

OK, so expecting a victory Tuesday night in Cleveland isn't smart. The Bulls will be underdogs just like they were in each of the four games last season, all of which were Bulls winners. It was the first time in 52 division series that LeBron James had been swept, which is pretty remarkable considering the Bulls were the No. 8 seed and the Cavs coasted to a third straight NBA Finals. We're not over here predicting a win. But just remember: the Bulls have fared well against James in the regular season.