Cubs

Seabrook ruled out for Game 5 vs. Canucks

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Seabrook ruled out for Game 5 vs. Canucks

Thursday, April 21, 2011Posted: 2:26 p.m. Updated: 2:52 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

VANCOUVER, British Columbia The Blackhawks hoped defenseman Brent Seabrook could return for Game 5 tonight against the Vancouver Canucks. This morning, they found out that wont happen.

Seabrook will miss his second consecutive game after taking a hit to the head in Game 3. John Scott will once again take his place in the lineup.

Hes day to day and there was a chance he couldve played but we found out today hes not, said coach Joel Quenneville. When asked if Seabrook underwent concussion protocol tests this morning, Quenneville added hes just not ready to go so well leave it at that.

Defensemen Duncan Keith and Niklas Hjalmarsson did not skate this morning but are playing tonight.

The Blackhawks used Seabrooks absence for some motivation in their 7-2 victory over Vancouver on Tuesday. The remaining defensemen took on the extra responsibility and filled the Seabrook void well. Still, theres no doubt his work is missed.

Hes been one of our best defensemen all year and its not easy and fun to be missing a guy like that, Jonathan Toews. It doesnt change our game plan. We just adapt to it. Well be ready for whatever the situation is.

The Blackhawks will need that complete-game effort again if they once again want to stave off elimination tonight.

Top guys quiet

Several of the Blackhawks big guns are still looking for their first goals in this series, including Toews, Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa. Toews said it wasnt for lack of chances.

I cant complain about opportunities Im getting, be it 5-on-5 or power plays, he said. When youre fighting against (Ryan) Kesler and Sedin lines they wont want to give you too much. At the same time we have to find a way to generate something. Kaner and I have had plenty of chances. We cant wait any longer. We wont force it but well keep working hard.

Kane called himself out after Game 3 for not scoring on some big opportunities, including an early 5-on-3 power play.

I just think that if you look back two games ago, Toewser and Kaner and that line had several quality chances, Quenneville said. Usually when the chances are there, the top players find a way to break out. The power plays been OK but 5-on-5 we need production from these guys.

Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.

Cubs' World Series expectations are no surprise, but they show how radical transformation from Lovable Losers has been

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USA TODAY

Cubs' World Series expectations are no surprise, but they show how radical transformation from Lovable Losers has been

MESA, Ariz. — Tom Ricketts sure doesn’t sound like the guy who met his wife in the bleachers during the century-long tenure of the Lovable Losers.

“Everyone knows that this is a team that has the capability to win the World Series, and everyone will be disappointed if we don’t live up to that capability.”

Yeah, the Cubs have been among baseball’s best teams for three seasons now. That curse-smashing World Series win in 2016 was the high point of a three-year stretch of winning that’s seen three straight trips to the National League Championship Series and a combined 310 wins between the regular season and postseason.

But it’s still got to come as a strange sound to those who remember the Cubs as the longtime butt of so many baseball jokes. This team has one expectation, to win the World Series. The players have said it for a week leading up to Monday’s first full-squad workout. The front office said it when it introduced big-time free-agent signing Yu Darvish a week ago. And the chairman said it Monday.

“We very much expect to win,” Ricketts said. “We have the ability to win. Our division got a lot tougher, and the playoff opponents that we faced last year are likely to be there waiting for us again.

“I think at this point with this team, obviously that’s our goal. I won’t say a season’s a failure because you don’t win the World Series, but it is our goal.”

The confidence is not lacking. But more importantly, success drives expectations. And if the Cubs are going to be one of the best teams in baseball, they better keep winning, or they’ll fail to meet those expectations, expectations that can sometimes spin a little bit out of control.

During last year’s follow-up campaign to 2016’s championship run, a rocky start to the season that had the Cubs out of first place at the All-Star break was enough to make some fans feel like the sky was falling — as if one year without a World Series win would be unacceptable to a fan base that had just gone 108 without one.

After a grueling NLDS against the Washington Nationals, the Cubs looked well overmatched in the NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers, and that sparked plenty of outside criticism, as well as plenty of offseason activity to upgrade the club in the midst of baseball’s never-ending arms race.

“I think people forget we’ve won more games over the last three years than any other team. We’ve won more playoff games than any other team the last three years. And we’ve been to the NLCS three years in a row,” Ricketts said. “I think fans understand that this is a team that if we stay healthy and play up to our capability can be in that position, be in the World Series. I don’t blame them. We should have high expectations, we have a great team.”

On paper, there are plenty of reasons for high expectations. Certainly the team’s stated goals don’t seem outlandish or anything but expected. The addition of Darvish to a rotation that already boasted Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks and Jose Quintana makes the Cubs’ starting staff the best in the NL, maybe the best in the game. There were additions to the bullpen, and the team’s fleet of young star position players went untouched despite fears it might be broken up to acquire pitching.

“I think this is, on paper, the strongest rotation that we’ve ever had,” Ricketts said. “I think that being able to bring in a player of (Darvish’s) caliber reminds everyone that we’re intending to win our division and go all the way.

“We’ve kept a good core of players together for several years, and this year I think our offseason moves have really set us up to be one of the best teams in baseball.

“Just coming out of our team meeting, the vibe feels a lot like two years ago. Everybody’s in a really good place. I think everyone’s really hungry and really wants to get this season off to a great start and make this a memorable year.”

There should be no surprise that the team and its players and its executives and its owners feel the way they do. The Cubs are now expected winners, even if that’s still yet to sink in for the longtime fans and observers of the team they once called the Lovable Losers.

Blackhawks deal Michael Kempny to Capitals for conditional third-round pick

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks deal Michael Kempny to Capitals for conditional third-round pick

The Blackhawks dealt defenseman Michael Kempny to the Washington Capitals for a third-round pick. Kempny had seven points in 31 games this season.

Kempny, 27, recorded 15 points in 81 career games for the Blackhawks. He tallied an assist in Saturday's 7-1 victory over the Capitals.

Kempny signed a one-year extension through the end of this season back in May.