Blackhawks

Whitenack Continues His Mastery In The Florida State League

Whitenack Continues His Mastery In The Florida State League

Friday April 22, 2011
Posted: 9:20 p.m.
CUBSDaytona A
When Robert Whitenack got bumped up to the Florida State League from Peoria late last season, he showed glimpses of what he could do for Daytona. He certainly pitched better in his seven starts for the Cubs than he had in nearly two dozen Midwest League starts, so much so that the parent club was excited to see how he would fare this spring.

Well, Whitenack hasnt disappointed with Fridays effort at Lakeland serving as his latest big outing. Daytona bested the Flying Tigers at Joker Marchant Stadium and it was Whitenack that led the way in the 3-1 victory.

Whitenack 3-0 allowed a run on two hits over six innings, striking out seven. His ERA sits at 1.17 through four starts this year and in 11 outings for the Cubs since last summer he is 5-1 with a 1.72 ERA in 62 23 innings. Jeff Lorick and Frabk Batista, who picked up his fourth save, closed out Lakeland and kept Whitenack undefeated.

Matt Cerdas two-run single in the seventh snapped a 1-1 tie. Junior Lake had three hits from the leadoff spot after going 3-for-14 there previously this season.
Tennessee AA
The Smokies took the rubber game of a five-game series at Carolina Friday night, earning a 5-4 victory at Five County Stadium.

Rebel Ridlings solo homer in the fifth inning provided the winning margin for Alberto Cabrera, who earned his second victory of the season. Cabrera allowed four runs on six hits over six innings but the bullpen was dominant with David Cales tossing a perfect ninth for his sixth save.

While Ridlings homer was the game winner and just one of his three hits, James Adduci also had a big game going 3-for-3 with a pair of walks to push his average to .405 through 14 games. Ryan Flaherty had a pair of hits, drove in a run and scored twice.
Iowa AAA
The Cubs banged out 13 hits in only six innings and captured a rain-shortened 7-2 victory over Albuquerque at Principal Park Friday night.

Tony Campana had four hits from the leadoff spot, sparking the first three hitters in the Iowa lineup to go 7-for-11. Brad Snyder had two hits and two RBIs while Lou Montanez had a hit and two RBIs. J.R. Mathes went the distance, scattering four hits and striking out two for the win.
Peoria A
The Chiefs game against Beloit at OBrien Field was rained out and will be made up on Saturday as part of a doubleheader beginning at noon. Cam Greathouse (0-0, 6.23) will start the opener for Peoria against Logan Darnell (0-1. 4.09). Graham Hicks (0-1, 0.90) will get the nod in the second game against Beloits Adrian Salcedo (0-1, 4.22).

WHITE SOXBirmingham AA
Kyle Sheltons RBI single in the bottom of the eighth inning lifted the Barons to a 3-2 victory over Mississippi Friday night at Regions Park.

Christian Colonel led off with a single and was replaced by pinch runner Greg Paiml. Ozzie Lewis beat out a bunt hit to put runners on first and second before Sheltons single up the middle put Birmingham in the lead. Andrew Garcias run-scoring single in the seventh knotted the score at 2-2.

Kyle Cofield 1-1 earned the win after throwing one-hit ball over 2 23 innings before Greg Infante picked up the save with a scoreless ninth.

Winston-Salem A
The Dash and Wilmington were postponed Friday due to weather and will make up the game Saturday as part of a doubleheader beginning at 6 p.m. at BB&T Ballpark.
Kannapolis A
The Intimidators and West Virginia were rained out Friday night. They will make up the game on Saturday as part of a doubleheader beginning at 6 p.m.

Kevin Czerwinski can be reached at ktczerwinski@gmail.com.

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.