Cubs

Bickell aiming to build off solid Game 2

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Bickell aiming to build off solid Game 2

Bryan Bickell said hell try to quell the confidence he got off his Game 2 performance, the one in which he potted the opening and, more important, game-winning goals.

After the last game, its a little high, Bickell said with a grin. But I need to ground myself. Its a new day, a new game.

Yes, Game 3 is a new game. But Bickell hopes he brings his Game 2 performance with him. The Blackhawks winger had a strong one on Saturday, tallying two goals and playing nearly 17 minutes. It was Bickells first multi-point game since March 18 against Washington, and it couldnt have come at a better time.

Hes a big body, hes skating well and finishing his checks, Patrick Sharp said. Hes the difference out there and he gets rewarded with a few goals.

Bickells current confidence is a far cry from what he was probably feeling through most of the regular season. Bickell was an on againoff again healthy scratch, and when he did play, he was very inconsistent. He started the season strong, with physical back-to-back games against the Dallas Stars. But that game was missing too often.

I had a rough season early, he said. Q has had confidence in me late, hes matched me against top lines and its been great. If we just keep it simple, get the pucks deep, out of our zone and play D first everything works out.

Indeed, lately, Bickells been playing the type of game the Blackhawks have needed all along: big, tough and very visible.

I thought he got more engaged physically in that game, coach Joel Quenneville said. I didnt mind that line. He had a more physical game, was in the puck areas. Hes got a nice shot; he made a nice quick, play on the tip on the first goal and had a good release on the second. Bicks can get hot. He has a deceptive shot.

If linemate Andrew Shaw is assessed any further games for his hit on Phoenix goaltender Mike Smith in Game 2, Bickells aggressive play and ability to crash the net will be needed that much more. Regardless, the Blackhawks need this Bickell in the postseason, the one who knows how to be physical and use that deceptive wrister.

He was at the right place at the right time, Dave Bolland said. Hes doing a great job out there. Using his body, doing the right things and playing his game.

Podcast: Albert Almora Jr. dishes on his role and the Cubs’ unsung hero that keeps things loose behind the scenes

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USA TODAY

Podcast: Albert Almora Jr. dishes on his role and the Cubs’ unsung hero that keeps things loose behind the scenes

Albert Almora Jr. joins Kelly Crull on the Cubs Talk Podcast to weigh in on a variety of topics, including his budding bromance with rumored Cubs target Manny Machado, his expanded role and how he spends his time off away from the ballpark.

Plus, Almora has a surprise pick for the organization’s unsung hero, stating the Cubs would’ve never won the World Series without this guy.

Listen to the full Cubs Talk Podcast right here:

Bulls Talk Podcast: How NBA Draft combine impacted mock drafts

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USA TODAY

Bulls Talk Podcast: How NBA Draft combine impacted mock drafts

On this edition of the Bulls Talk Podcast, Mark Schanowski and Kendall Gill discuss the NBA Draft and what happened at the NBA combine that shifted most experts mock drafts.

Kendall also explains why a "promise" to draft a player isn’t guaranteed. He also shares his experience on getting drafted by the Hornets and why he initially felt they were the wrong team for him.

North Carolina "News and Observer" Duke basketball beat writer Jonathan Alexander gives us his opinion on Wendell Carter and the other Duke draft prospects including why he thinks Carter will be a future all-star. Also includes an interview with Carter from the draft combine.

Listen to the full Bulls Talk Podcast right here: