Blackhawks

Without Hamilton, Bulls 'have more than enough to win'

626604.png

Without Hamilton, Bulls 'have more than enough to win'

MILWAUKEE When Rip Hamilton came off the United Center floor early in Mondays win over the Pacers, following a collision with Indiana center Roy Hibbert, the first thought of fans and members of the organization alike was, Here we go again. A day later, his right-shoulder injury was termed a contusion and mild sprain" and his status was listed as day-to-day. Prior to the Bulls Wednesday-morning shootaround at the Bradley Center, the 13-year veteran shed some light on his situation.

Its sore. It still hurts. When I first did it, I felt it pop, but when I ran downcourt, I could still move my hands, so I knew that it wasnt broken. But it was a lot of pain just to lift my arm up, he said. Sometimes you say, Why you? but thats a part of the game you have to deal with. It comes with the territory. Its just tough for me because Ive never been like this my whole career, especially one minute and 20 seconds into the game. All these little freak things. Its crazy, man.

I want to be out there. I want to play. Its crazy because even when I was out there and I was getting limited minutes, for it to happen so freaky like that, its crazy. Ive just got to stay mentally strong, mentally tough and keep trying to prepare myself to get better, he continued. Im just trying to lift my arm up. Aint no miracle going to happen tomorrow or anything like that, so just trying to get the swelling out, just trying to get my range of motion back, so its going to be a minute.

I thought, at first, that it was just a stinger. Like, Bam! I got hit. OK, Rip. I always tell myself, Dont fall, get up. I thought it would loosen up by the time I got down to the other end of the floor and it didnt. Thats when it kind of scared me.

Added Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau: You never can tell with those things. Youre just hopeful that its not serious. It wasnt, so were encouraged by that.

You never know how theyre going to feel tomorrow and thats the way that I want them to approach it. Put a lot of work into your rehab, do as much as you can and when youre ready to go, youre ready to go, he continued. Weve had injuries throughout the year. Were disappointed for him because he put a lot of work into it, but we feel good about all the guys that we have. We have more than enough to win with. Ronnies played extremely well as a starter, so we feel good about that and our bench has played great all year long.

Thibodeau said that while Hamiltons injury history was considered before signing him, the pros outweighed the cons.

You look at everything. You look at what hes done throughout his career and I think the good certainly outweighs anything negative, so we felt good about it from the start, he explained. Hes had misfortune this year. Its an unusual year for everybody and hopefully hell be back quickly.

Hamilton believes the leagues condensed schedule has a great deal to do with the rash of injuries throughout the NBA, not just his, but has taken comfort in how supportive the Bulls have been.

From the whole leagues standpoint, you see guys going down. All the back-to-back games, the travel. People dont look at it, but it has an effect. Weve seen it in football. You dont want to say it, but its one of those things where your bodys not accustomed to going this way all of the time, but it is what it is. You have to deal with it, he said. The Bulls have been great. Theyve been awesome. I spoke to general manager Gar Forman last night and the biggest thing is, in speaking to my teammates, on one side, Im shaking my head, like Why? weve had so many injuries this year on this team and on the other side, Im saying, Hey, you know what? Just get right, man. Just get right and come back, so we can do what weve got to do.

It could be an eventual positive that Hamilton will at least be fresh when the postseason arrives, but he didnt take solace in that notion.

That could be a bright side, but you dont think about it right now, he said. Your motivation is to be out on the floor, to be out there battling with your teammates, so its really hard to even think about stuff like that.

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.