Blackhawks

Word on the Street: Bears looking at CFL WR?

Word on the Street: Bears looking at CFL WR?

Monday, Jan. 3, 2011
CSNChicago.com

Bears expected to check out CFL receiver

Canadian Israel Idonije was a great fit for the Chicago Bears, and it looks like the Bears will look north for another addition to their team.

Brad Biggs reports that the Bears are looking to schedule a workout for Andy Fantuz. The Canadian native led the Canadian Football League in receiving this past season, and has worked out for five NFL teams already. The 6-4 wide receiver weighs in at 220 pounds and made 87 receptions for 1,380 yards last season with the Saskatchewan Roughriders. (Chicago Tribune)

Bulls defense becoming one of the NBA's best

Tom Thibodeau is known for his emphasis on a strong defense and the Bulls are a reflection of that.

The Chicago Tribune's K.C. Johnson reports that the Bulls have climbed to second behind Miami in opponents' field-goal percentage at .428 and third in opponents' 3-point percentage behind Atlanta and Miami at .336.

Despite the development, Thibodeau said his team still has room to improve.

"We still need to clean up some things in terms of how we're challenging shots and containing the ball," Thibodeau said. (Chicago Tribune)

Are the Bears ready for playoff football?

The loss to the Green Bay Packers had no impact on the post season for the Chicago Bears, but CSNChicago.com's John Mullin says it was "exactly what the Bears needed: a swift shot to the chops."

Despite a strong effort by the defense (who held the ninth-ranked scoring offense to 10 points and eighth-ranked yardage generator to 284), he says the performance of Mike Martz, Jay Cutler, and the offensive line should dispel any notion that the Bears are ready for playoff football. (CSNChicago.com)
Vikings announce interim coach Frazier to stay

The Minnesota Vikings announced that they have reached an agreement with Leslie Frazier to be their next coach. After Brad Childress was fired, the Vikings went 3-3 under the direction of ex-Bear Frazier. Frazier has interviewed for seven coaching vacancies over the past three years. (Chicago Tribune)

Toews in the lineup against Kings

For a team that has suffered many injuries this season, this is good news.

CSNChicago.com's Tracey Myers reports that Jonathan Toews will be on the ice tonight when the Blackhawks take on the Los Angeles Kings. The captain said this morning that hes not rushing back at all and has been happy with his healing since Tuesday.

Theresalways that side of things that you want to push it to get back as fastas you can but I can honestly say that I dont feel like theres anyrisk coming back tonight," Toews said. "It feels really good. I hit theice a couple times and I dont think I lost much. Hopefully Ill pickup where I left off. (CSNChicago.com)

Winter Classic ratings are in and...

The Washington Capitals' 3-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins in the rain at Heinz Field got a bump in ratings despite being delayed from 1 to 8 p.m. Saturday.

The Winter Classic's television ratings were up 10 percent from last year's overtime game between the Philadelphia Flyers and Boston Bruins at Fenway Park. Plus, the clash of stars Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin saw 4.5 million viewers, up from 3.7 million last season. (Chicago Tribune)

Ex-Sox Olivo heading to Seattle

Former White Sox catcher Miguel Olivo has agreed to a two-year deal with the Seattle Mariners worth 7 million. The deal, which brings Olivo to the Mariners for the second time in his career, also includs a club option for the 2013 season. Along with Olivo, the Mariners reportedly agreed to terms with former-Cardinal infielder Brendan Ryan. (ChicagoBreakingSports)

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.