Blackhawks

Starting Five: Bulls at Mavericks

Starting Five: Bulls at Mavericks

Friday, Nov. 19, 2010
1:25 p.m.
By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

1. Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau discussed Carlos Boozers progress with the assembled media prior to the teams shootaround, taking a more cautious viewpoint, but detailing what his injured star has been doing in Chicagos practices.

Well, Bulls team trainer Fred Tedeschi, he keeps me informed to where Boozer is, in terms of the things he can do. So, all the things that he can do -- hes going through some dummy offense, hes going through some defensive close-out drills, things like that -- and the next step, hell be cleared to practice where he can take some contact," Thibodeau said. "Were probably looking at another week or so, so when that happens well move forward from there, but we cant think about him playing until he can start going through some practices.

We will know better about when Boozer will play in games once he starts practicing. Hes still two steps away.

2. Thibodeau talked about the strengths of the Bulls opponent Friday, the Mavericks -- a team Chicago faced twice in the preseason -- as well as what his team needs to do to be successful.

Taj Gibson will start off on him Dallas superstar forward Dirk Nowitzki," he said. "A great player like that, youre not going to guard with one player. You have to rely on your team defense. The Mavs have so many different weapons because of their quickness in the backcourt, the shooting ability of Nowitzki and of course, their size. Any time youre putting two defenders on the ball, youre vulnerable to the second shot, so they can hurt you with the second shot ... theyre bringing Jason Terry and Shawn Marion off the bench, youve got two guys that can come in and get 20 points on you off the bench.

We have to make sure were back defensively. Our floor balance, we have control over that, and you have to be careful -- they play more zone than anybody else -- so if youre settling for jump shots against them and theyre long jump shots, if you dont have floor balance, now youre vulnerable to giving them easy scoring opportunities in transition. We have to make sure that whether theyre in zone or man, we still want to remain the same and be inside-out. That balls got to get into the paint.

3. Bulls point guard Derrick Rose talked about Boozers potential impact on the team and how it could help him personally before Wednesdays loss to the Spurs in San Antonio.

Playing with him Boozer, theyll have to double-team him, explained Rose. Ill be on the weak side. If the swing pass comes to me, Ill have a live dribble -- usually when I come down, Im already dribbling; I dont usually play with a live dribble -- but when he comes back, Ill have a live dribble and Im going to be able to spot up and shoot.

4. Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle spoke incredibly favorably about the Bulls after Dallas shootaround at the American Airlines Center.

To me, they have the highest motor of any team in the league," Carlisle said. "Their energy level stays up -- both offensively and defensively -- and so that makes them extremely difficult to guard and it also makes them hard to score against because they just have a persistence about their game. We have to be extremely aggressive, yet we have to have the right amount of poise, as well.

Were going to have to be disciplined, were going to have to understand how these guys approach the game and were going to have to be able to play our game at a high level against an opponent thats really going to have to have a persistent physical presence on both ends the entire night.

Carlisle talked specifically about the task Dallas has in defending Rose.

Great player," Carlisle said. "Right now, hes one of the best players in the game. Statistically, their team has got a winning record because of him, in large part. Hes just continuing to make large strides. Now hes shooting the three really well and making mid-range jump shots. Hes one of the more difficult guys on the planet to guard, he remarked, dismissively joking, Im not going to tell you, when asked how he planned to strategize against Rose.

Look, hes an MVP candidate. Thats how good he is and how important he is to his team. A guy like that is going to get a lot of attention from the opponent. Youve got to have a lot of different scenarios to try to deal with him. Youve got to have a lot of different people ready. Its a great challenge for us.

Added Mavericks guard Jason Terry: Hes looking to score more. Hes looking to be the leader of that team and hes doing a great job. As he goes, they go. If he has a big game, theyre going to win, nine times out of 10.

Carlisle, whos familiar with Boozer from past Utah-Dallas Western Conference battles, also talked about the looming return of Carlos Boozer to the Bulls lineup.

Boozer, hes an All-Star caliber player and he fits, very well, with what theyre doing," Carlisle told CSNChicago.com on Friday. "When he comes back, theyll be able to bring Gibson off the bench, start Boozer and itll just strengthen their rotation that much more. I dont know what the timetable is, but theyre going to go from being a good team to a really good team in a hurry when he gets back.

Chimed in Terry: Boozers going to give them a post presence, another scoring optionhes an All-Star, so he commands a lot of respect from the opposing team.
5. Dont forget to follow me on Twitter at @CSNBullsInsider.

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' overtime loss to Lightning: Missed opportunities and one too many penalties

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' overtime loss to Lightning: Missed opportunities and one too many penalties

Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks’ 3-2 overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday night:
 
1. One too many penalties.

The Blackhawks flirted with danger in the first period when they handed the Lightning three straight continuous power plays, a four-minute double minor high-sticking penalty from John Hayden and a Jonathan Toews hooking call that resulted in a 5-on-3 opportunity for Tampa Bay for 43 seconds. 

The penalty kill unit that ranked fourth in the league entering the matchup, however, killed off all three of those penalties against the NHL's top-ranked power play, and did so in commanding fashion.

The Blackhawks went 5-for-5 on the penalty kill in regulation, but couldn't stop the sixth one — a questionable slashing call on Nick Schmaltz —  in overtime when Brayden Point buried the winner on a 4-on-3 opportunity.

It was also interesting that Jon Cooper elected to go with four forwards (Nikita Kucherov, Vladislav Namestnikov, Point and Steven Stamkos) and zero defensemen during that man advantage, putting all of his offensive weapons out on the ice. It's something more teams should do in that situation.

2. Patrick Kane gets going.

After scoring just one goal in his previous 10 games, Kane found the back of the net twice in the opening frame against Tampa Bay and stayed hot against a team he historically plays well against. And he nearly netted a hat trick in overtime but couldn't cash in on a breakaway opportunity.

Kane has 20 points (eight goals, 12 assists) in 14 career regular-season games against the Lightning, and extended his point streak to five games. He has three goals and four assists over that stretch.

We wrote about how important it is for the Blackhawks' superstars to get going again with the offensive contributions mainly coming from role players as of late, and Kane getting into a groove is a perfect step in that direction.

3. How about that goaltending battle?

Corey Crawford and Andrei Vasilevskiy showed us exactly why they belong in the Vezina Trophy discussion, and as of this moment, it's hard not to include both of them as finalists. They put on a goaltending clinic, seemingly topping the other as the game went on.

The two teams combined for 71 scoring chances, and Crawford and Vasilevskiy came up big when their teams need them the most.

Crawford finished with 35 saves on 38 shots (.921 save percentage) in the loss while Vasilevskiy stopped 29 of 31 (.935 save percentage), and improved to 15-2-1 on the season. 

4. Missed opportunities.

You couldn't have asked for a better start for the Blackhawks. They scored the first goal 3:49 into the game and the second on the power play at 15:54, killed off three penalties, including a 5-on-3, had 24 shot attempts (13 on goal) compared to the Lightning's 16 attempts (11 on goal) and led in even-strength scoring chances 9-6.

It was a different story the rest of the way.

The Blackhawks took their foot off the gas pedal a bit and let the Lightning back in the game by getting away from what they do best, and that's control the puck. Obviously, you expected the league's best offense to push back and it's certainly not an easy task to keep them off the scoresheet all together. 

But the Blackhawks had their chances to stay in front or retake the lead and just couldn't bury them. Tampa Bay had 50 shot attempts from the second period on while the Blackhawks had only 32, and finished with 44 scoring chances compared to Chicago's 27.

5. Richard Panik in the doghouse?

Joel Quenneville didn't go to his line blender in this one, but he did shorten some leashes. Panik, most notably, had a season-low 12:28 of ice time in the loss and had 15 shifts, which was second-fewest only to Ryan Hartman (13) on the team.

Panik had a prime chance to break a 2-2 tie in the third period but was denied by Vasilevskiy, who made a remarkable left-pad save. Instead, Panik extended his goal drought to 12 games and didn't get a shift in overtime.

He's certainly better and will get his scoring chances when playing on the top line with Toews and Brandon Saad, but the missed opportunities are magnified in tight losses. It doesn't look like a move down in the lineup is coming given the success of Alex DeBrincat, who gives the Blackhawks an offensive weapon on the third line, but perhaps it should be considered.

Bring your own stuffing: Jazz swat Bulls on Thanksgiving Eve

Bring your own stuffing: Jazz swat Bulls on Thanksgiving Eve

On the second (turkey) leg of a back-to-back, the Bulls didn't bring much energy in a 110-80 loss to the Utah Jazz. 

Instead of diving into the nitty-gritty of the uninspiring effort, though, we decided to just serve you up a Thanksgiving meal of highlights. Here are the top blocks from Wednesday's game: 

5. Derrick Favors is no Rudy Gobert -- that we know -- but imitation is the highest form of flattery. 

4. Are Bobby Portis chase down blocks the new LeBron James chase down blocks? Let's not get carried away... yet. We'll chalk it up to just a real nice hustle play by Bobby. 

3 and 2. Speaking of hustle plays... Jonas Jerebko isn't exactly known as a dominant defender. He sure made it hard for the Bulls on what should of been an easy fast-break bucket in the third quarter, though. First, he silenced Kris Dunn's reverse. Then, he met Lauri Markkanen at the rim and sent the rookie packing. The Baby Bulls 2.0 can blame it on fatigue, but they just handed Jerebko a highlight tape for years to come.   

1. In fairness, Jerian Grant had to get up a shot as the quarter was coming to a close. It is as vicious as it looks, though.