Blackhawks

Word on the Street: Cavallari a jinx on Bears?

Word on the Street: Cavallari a jinx on Bears?

Saturday, Jan. 22, 2011
CSNChicago.com

Cavallari a jinx on the Bears?

If Bears fans aren't worried about the Sports Illustrated jinx for their beloved Monsters of the Midway, there may be another factor tipping the luck scales in the Packers' favor. Reality TV celebrity Kristen Cavallari may provide the infamous "Jessica Simpson" factor on her quarterback beau, Jay Cutler.

Simpson, the famed singersongwriteractress, was famously the girlfriend of Dallas Cowboys' quarterback Tony Romo and brought nothing but misfortune to her boyfriend and his teammates on the season's biggest stage--the playoffs.

However, even with Cavallari in tow, the Bears have already done something those Cowboys teams failed to do--win a playoff game. And according to reports, Cavallari wants Cutler to focus on winning as much as any diehard Bears fan. (Toronto Sun)

Clark to suit up for Bears?

Desmond Clark, the Bears' veteran tight end who has been on the inactive list for much of the 2010 season, has Tweeted that he will be suiting up and on the field Sunday against the Packers. Clark has not appeared in a game since the Bears' Week 3 win over the Packers at Soldier Field. (Twitter)

Fire show their support for Bears

The Chicago Fire declared Friday Bears Day at Toyota Park. Participating staff members donned their best Bears apparel and then posed for a picture inside the Fire locker room (See photo above right). (Chicago Fire)

Dent honorary captain Sunday

Richard Dent, the Bears all-time sack leader and MVP of Super Bowl XX, will be an honorary captain for Sunday's NFC Championship game at Soldier Field. Dent recorded 124.5 sacks in his 12 year career with the Bears and is a Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2011 finalist. (CSNChicago.com)

Minnesota bar to roast bear Sunday

A sports bar owner in St. Paul, Minn., will support the Green Bay Packers during the NFC Championship game Sunday afternoon by roasting a 180-pound bear.

Blake Montpetit, the co-owner of Tiffany Sports Lounge, says he will cook the black bear in a pig-roaster over hickory and charcoal on Sunday. He says his cousin shot and killed it in northern Wisconsin during bear hunting season and then froze it. (Washington Post)
Referee retains position in Bears-Packers game at Soldier Field

Terry McAulay has been annouced as the referee in Chicago on Sunday. That may not mean much to some people, but McAulay was the referee in Week 3 when the Packers were flagged 18 times for 152 yards.

However, this will not be a repeat of Week 3, according to Mike Pereira of FoxSports.com. McAulay is the only one from his crew that was involved in that Week 3 game. As Pereira says, "from this point on in the playoffs, the crews are made up of the top three officials at each position." (Fox Sports)

Boozer set to make return Saturday for Bulls

Carlos Boozer, the Bulls' star power forward, looks to be on the fast track to recovery. After missing the last three games due to an ankle injury suffered in the waning seconds of Chicago's thrilling 99-96 victory over the Miami Heat last Saturday, Boozer has been announced as a go for Saturday's game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at the United Center. (CSNChicago.com)

Bulls don't need Melo?

According to ChicagoNow.com, the Bulls are doing just fine without Carmelo Anthony and despite the superstar's scoring prowess, Chicago can do just fine in the Eastern Conference without having to mortgage Joakim Noah or a surplus of picks or bench players to acquire the services of the superstar forward. (ChicagoNow)

Could Sox have had Papelbon?

Jonathan Papelbon, the star closer for the Boston Red Sox, was reportedly shopped to multiple teams over the offseason, mainly the Oakland Athletics and the Chicago White Sox, according to Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated. Heyman cites the high price tag arbitration was likely to bring kept the teams at bay (OverTheMonster.com)

Ozzie launches new website

Ozzie Guillen, the enigmatic and outspoken manager of the Chicago White Sox, celebrated his 47th birthday in style, after having his 2012 option picked up with the team and launching his own website www.ozzieguillen.com. The site features news, photographs and videos of Guillen in addition to promoting his charity foundation that has been around since 1998. (Chicago Tribune)

Manny signs with Rays
Manny Ramirez signed with the Tampa Bay Rays Friday on a one-year deal. Ramirez, who played the last month-plus of the 2010 season with the Chicago White Sox, signed for a reported 2 million. He hit .298 with nine home runs in 265 at-bats last season. (Sports Illustrated)

Former Cubs prospect gives it another go as a pro

Ryan Harvey, the Cubs' first-round pick in 2003, is attempting a comeback at Major League Baseball. Harvey was drafted as the sixth player overall as an outfielder with some major power potential, but never quite cut it. In eight minor league seasons, Harvey never rose above Double-A level and hit just .244 with 711 strikeouts and 158 walks in 2,372 at-bats.

Now, however, Harvey is attempting to make it as a pitcher in the Boston Red Sox organization, signing with the club this offseason. (Fox Sports)

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 4-2 win over Coyotes: Puck don't lie

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USA TODAY

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 4-2 win over Coyotes: Puck don't lie

Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks' 4-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday night:
 
1. Surviving a crazy first period.

The Blackhawks committed four penalties in the opening frame within a 2:18 span, and escaped unscathed from it despite a pair of 5-on-3 opportunities for the Coyotes.

Of course, the only goal allowed in the period came from a fluke deflection off Jordan Oesterle's stick and slipped underneath Corey Crawford's five-hole.

Joel Quenneville likes to say the team that takes advantage of their 5-on-3 opportunities has a pretty good chance to win the game. It applied in this case, with the Blackhawks coming out victorious after surviving that stretch.

2. Power play comes alive early.

The Blackhawks got off on the right foot in an area that has been an issue for them this season, capitalizing on their first power play of the game 24 seconds into it when Richard Panik redirected a Jonathan Toews shot that tricked past Louis Domingue.

Good thing too, because it was the only man advantage they'd get. Well, excluding the power play they received with 17 seconds left in regulation when the game was already decided. 
 
3. Another controversial review in Arizona.

What's with it with controversial reviews in Arizona and the Blackhawks being on the wrong end of the call?

The Blackhawks appeared to have taken a 3-1 lead when Tommy Wingels converted on a penalty shot, but it was overturned after officials reviewed it and determined the Coyotes netminder got a stick on Wingels' initial shot. Replays didn't exactly show conclusive evidence, but the NHL released a statement proving otherwise:

Video review determined that Wingels shot the puck into the net after Arizona goaltender Louis Domingue made contact with the puck. According to Rule 24.2, "No goal can be scored on a rebound of any kind."

Shortly after, the Coyotes scored in the final minutes of the period to even up the score at 2-2 in a big turn of events at the time.
 
4. ... But puck don't lie.

The overturned penalty shot didn't matter in the end though, because the Blackhawks came away with the victory and Wingels ended up getting his first goal after all on the empty netter that iced the game.

It was Wingels' first goal as a member of his hometown team, and it was well deserved for a guy who was part of the fourth line that turned in arguably their best performance of the season.
 
5. Lance Bouma pots game winner.

Speaking of which, it was fitting that Bouma scored the game winner with 4:24 left in the third period because that trio of Bouma, Wingels and John Hayden was around the net for the majority of the night.

They combined two goals and two assists, had eight attempts shot attempts (five on goal), eight of the team's 16 hits and four blocked shots.

Miscues, miscommunications and missed shots: Bulls offense struggling all around

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USA TODAY

Miscues, miscommunications and missed shots: Bulls offense struggling all around

Denzel Valentine corralled a rebound and casually dribbled up the right side of the floor, unaware of the final 5 seconds ticking off the clock in the third quarter. The second-year shooting guard moved toward the basket as the buzzer sounded, only realizing his gaffe as the red lights behind the backboard lit up. It was that kind of night for the Bulls offense, and one that highlighted carelessness, a lack of talent and obvious growing pains as the rebuild begins.

Fred Hoiberg’s group finished with more turnovers (20) than assists (18), shot 38 percent from the field and were doubled up on points in the paint in an ugly 87-77 loss to the Spurs on Saturday night. Adding to the issues were only nine free-throw attempts and 28 percent shooting from deep on a night where the Bulls played well enough defensively to earn a win.

But they couldn’t take advantage of a Spurs team playing without Kawhi Leonard. The ball stopped for long periods of time in the halfcourt, the fast break was non-existent and miscommunications were frequent, even when they didn’t result in one of those 20 turnovers.

“We had 20 turnovers that led to 23 points…that’s what kills you,” Hoiberg said. “A team goes on a run and they get easy ones, pick-sixes, you’re all of a sudden in a big hole. And obviously did not shoot the ball well today.”

The struggles came from across the board. Only Cris Felicio was turnover-less of the nine Bulls who played. The backcourt tandem of Jerian Grant and Justin Holiday combined for 11 of 32 shooting. Rookie Lauri Markkanen showed flashes with eight first-half points, but finished 5 of 14 and committed three ugly turnovers. Robin Lopez made the first 3-pointer of his career 630 games in, but a 29-year-old leading the way for a young rebuilding group could be deemed bittersweet at best.

It capped off a whirlwind first week for the Bulls, who dealt on the fly with the fallout of the altercation between Nikola Mirotic and Bobby Portis. Losing Mirotic and Portis hurt from a talent standpoint, but it also threw a wrench into Hoiberg’s rotation and scheme. It thrust 20-year-old Markkanen into the starting lineup; Paul Zipser has shifted to playing more power forward (while also starting at small forward); Lopez is being asked to score more than ever, and at times be the primary option.

“With everything we’ve had going on the past week, with playing guys different positions that they haven’t played yet,” Hoiberg said, “we’re still trying to figure out exactly how we’re going to go out there and play. We’re getting stuck at times because guys are in the wrong spots.”

The Bulls opened Saturday night with a solid first quarter, scoring 21 points, assisting on nine of 12 baskets and committing just three turnovers.

The final three quarters couldn’t have been more different. The second unit again struggled like it did in allowing the Raptors a 20-2 second-quarter run on Tuesday. Even without Leonard the Spurs’ defensive length cut off passing and driving lanes, forcing the Bulls to dribble down the shot clock and turn to isolation basketball or contested 3-pointers.

The Spurs couldn’t pull away thanks to an inspired defensive effort by the Bulls, but the offensive stalling rendered it moot; the Bulls took 28 3-pointers and 37 shots in the paint, an ugly ratio when considering the nine free-throw attempts. The bench shot 7-for-19, but most of that came in garbage time.

“One thing we definitely need to work on is attacking the basket,” Lopez said. “I think there are times where we all get a little jumper-happy on the perimeter. I think we need to have a good balance.

We need to be aware of that. We’re a team that doesn’t have a lot of room for error so any time we concede the ball like that, we don’t get up a shot attempt, tat’s going to really hurt us.”

Kris Dunn may be closer than expected to returning to the lineup after dislocating his finger in the preseason. It would give the Bulls help on that dismayed second unit, knocking Kay Felder (3 turnovers in 15 minutes) out of the rotation. Once Mirotic and Portis return in November, Hoiberg will have more flexibility with his rotations as well as some insurance if frontcourt foul trouble arrives.

None are go-to scorers, and not even Zach LaVine's 19.8 points per game last season will save the Bulls once he's healthy. Season-long struggles like Saturday night are on the way for a young team searching for pieces of the future. That's expected, and in the long term it benefits them as more Lottery balls roll toward Chicago.

But in a season in which success will be judged not on wins and losses but improvement from game-to-game, but the Bulls have set the bar low in the season's first week.