Reports: Keith suspension could be lengthy


Reports: Keith suspension could be lengthy

When Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith elbowed Vancouver forward Daniel Sedin in the head on Wednesday night, it seemed that a talk with Brendan Shanahan was likely not far behind.

It looks like that talk will be sometime Friday. But exactly how this conversation will go down is suddenly up for debate.

Several Canadian outlets reported early Thursday that Keith would have a phone hearing with Shanahan around 1 p.m. CT on Friday to determine his punishment for that elbow. But late Thursday night, Nick Kypreos of Sportsnet Cable Television in Canada reported that the NHL asked Keith to waive his right to an in-person hearing for the hit.

If Keiths hearing is over the phone, it means he would be suspended five or fewer games. But if its an in-person hearing, the punishment will be more than five games.

Why this situation suddenly changed is unknown. Keith has never been suspended in his career, but the NHL is trying to crack down on blows to the head. The Canucks were irate that the elbow drew only a two-minute minor penalty in Wednesdays game. Daniels brother, Henrik, insinuated that Keith told Daniel he would get him back for an earlier hit in the game Daniel had a high shoulder hit on Keith prior to Keiths elbow.

As for Daniel Sedin, the Vancouver Sun reports that he flew to Dallas with the team after the game on Wednesday but traveled back to Vancouver Thursday for further evaluation. Coach Alain Vigneault told Vancouver media he didnt know what Sedins status was.

There will be some resolution to all of this on Friday. Either way, the Blackhawks will likely be missing their top defenseman for a bit during this stretch run.

The pros and cons of reuniting Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews on Blackhawks top line


The pros and cons of reuniting Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews on Blackhawks top line

Jonathan Toews' offense usually comes in spurts. We're seeing it again right now.

But it's no coincidence his numbers have spiked since Patrick Kane joined him on the top line.

After recording another two points in Saturday's 5-3 loss to the Buffalo Sabres, the Blackhawks captain has 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in his past eight games; he had 11 points in his previous 23 games total.

Toews also reached the 20-goal mark for the 11th straight season, joining Kane and Alex Ovechkin as the only three active players to accomplish that feat to open their NHL careers.

Kane has seen his offensive production pick up, too. He has 16 points (four goals, 12 assists) in his past 13 games after going five straight without one, which was his longest point drought of the season.

When the two of them are on the ice together at even strength, they control 57.9 percent of the shot attempts. It hasn't quite translated on the scoresheet (14 goals for and 17 goals against) maybe the way it should, but they are certainly spending far more time in the offensive zone than the defensive end and are generating a high volume of shots.

So yes, reuniting the dynamic duo has worked stats-wise.

But it comes at a cost:

— Vinnie Hinostroza and Nick Schmaltz haven't scored in six straight contests.

— Alex DeBrincat's season-long goal drought is up to 13 games.

— Artem Anisimov's last even-strength goal came nine games ago.

When you put Kane and Toews together, you risk losing some balance across the lineup and that's why Joel Quenneville has always been reluctant to go to that nuclear option. He prefers when opposing teams are forced to play 'Pick Your Poison.'

Ideally, you'd like to spread out the scoring, but one thing is for certain: The Blackhawks are better when Kane and Toews are each producing offensively, whether they're apart or together. 

When the wins start to dry up though — and they have — that's normally when it's time to try something different.

Perhaps more importantly, the last thing you want are those scoring droughts mentioned above to stretch even further and get inside the younger skaters' heads, then carrying it with them into the offseason.

Morgan Park claims back-to-back Class 3A state titles with win over Southeast

Morgan Park claims back-to-back Class 3A state titles with win over Southeast

PEORIA -- Morgan Park claimed its second consecutive IHSA Class 3A boys basketball state title with a 71-56 win over Springfield Southeast on Saturday afternoon.

The Mustangs (25-9) jumped out to a 35-27 halftime lead and maintained control for good when senior guard and Player of the Year candidate Ayo Dosunmu took over the game at the end of the third quarter. With the Mustangs clinging to a one-possession lead in a chippy game, the Illinois commit calmly scored eight straight points on three possessions to give Morgan Park a comfortable 54-45 advantage heading into the final quarter. Playing in front of his future college head coach, Brad Underwood, Dosunmu finished out a memorable high-school career with a Class 3A state-title record 28 points.

Senior Cam Burrell added 11 points and eight rebounds for the Mustangs while sophomore guards Adam Miller and Marcus Watson also chipped in 11 points each.

Southeast (29-4) was playing for its first boys basketball state title in school history, but they ultimately fell short after the third-quarter rally. Junior Anthony Fairlee led the charge with 16 points and 10 rebounds for Southeast before fouling out while Terrion Murdix (12 points) and Kobe Medley (10 points) also finished in double-figures. With only one senior starter this season, the future still looks bright for Southeast for next season. The Spartans should return another strong team as they'll once again be a factor in the state title race.

Saturday's win marks the fifth boys basketball state championship for Morgan Park and the fourth state title in six years for the program under head coach Nick Irvin. Clearly the most dominant Class 3A team in Illinois, the Mustangs have the look of a long-lasting dynasty. Morgan Park has advanced to Peoria in five of the last six seasons and the roster still features plenty of young talent. Miller could be a Player of the Year candidate in the area next season. Watson should also step up when they become upperclassmen.   

Morgan Park also became the second Chicago Public League program to claim back-to-back IHSA state titles in 2018 after Orr captured the Class 2A title last weekend in Peoria.