Blackhawks

Random News: Who needs '85 Bears?; Goldy Gopher

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Random News: Who needs '85 Bears?; Goldy Gopher

Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2010
10:27 AM

By Joe Collins
CSNChicago.com

From The 'Who Needs The '85 Bears' Department: If you want to see a good defense, head to Vernon Hills High School. Their football team has not given up a single point this season, outscoring their opponents 290-0. Every other team in Illinois has given up at least 22 points. That's nothing short of astounding. Oh by the way, their offense is paced by wide receivers DaVaris Daniels (son of former Bear Phillip) and Evan Spencer (son of Bears running backs coach Tim).

From The 'I'm Also Afraid Of Mr. Food & That Six Flags Old Guy Mascot' Department: I had the chance to witness Northwestern's 29-28 win in Minnesota in person on Saturday. I realized a few things: (1) TCF Bank Stadium is a great place to watch a game. And it's within footsteps of fraternitysorority row...if you're into that sort of thing, (2) Golden Gophers fans wouldn't let head football coach Tim Brewster sit at the kiddie table if he crashed their Thanksgiving party, (3) I'm scared to death of mascots. Is there anything more annoying and awkward than when a mascot comes up to you at a game? It's tantamount to when actors at an improv show start coming into the audience looking for volunteers. (Cue "Airplane" movie soundbite: "It's coming right at us!"). Goldy Gopher came over to where our group was sitting and started doing his shtick. I'm sure my response was similar to what you might have gone through during similar situations: pretend you don't see the mascot, act all startled when he's in your face, faux-laugh at him for two seconds, say something to him before you realize he can't say anything back to you, go back to focusing on the game, realize he's not going away, start texting some random person for the heck of it, notice that he's still making fun of you, get upsprint to concession stand to get a 4 hot dog.

From The 'Wait...It Gets Better!' Department: On Sunday, Brewster said the following: "We could be sitting here 5-0 right now." Minnesota is 1-4. All four losses have come at home, including a pillow fight bruising by South Dakota. Their one win was over 2-2 juggernaut Middle Tennessee.

From The 'Talk About Random' Department: Juan Pierre finished the 2010 season with three triples for the White Sox, only two more than the equally swift Paul Konerko.

From The 'Your So Crazy And I Am To' Department: Look, I'm not saying that I'm Johnny Grammar or anything (this column alone is at the seventh grade level), but I have noticed the breakdown of our society in how certain people have completely scrapped "you're" for "your" in conversations that call for "you are" or the suitable equivalent. You see it a lot in Tweets and Facebook status updates: "Your so right!" I see it a lot on the pages of athletes I follow on those sites. The difference between "you're" and "your" is taught in elementary school. Are we really getting that stupid? It's the same with "to" and "too"-- "I ordered that same pizza to!" Makes me want to ROFL. And I don't mean that as the acronym for rolling on the floor laughing-- I mean that because "ROFL" looks like a sound that a person would make while dry heaving.

And Finally, From The Prediction Department: Bears 19, Panthers 17.

Or Something Like That.

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."