Bulls

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.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Moral victory for the Bears?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Moral victory for the Bears?

David Schuster, Adam Jahns and Patrick Finley join Kap on the panel.

0:00- Dave Wannstedt joins the panel to discuss the Bears 38-31 loss to the Patriots? Was it a moral victory? Is Matt Nagy crazy to say Mitch Trubisky didn’t play that bad?

13:00- Joe Girardi pulls his name out of the Reds managerial search and Jon Heyman reports that industry sources believe he might wait to see if there’s an opening in Chicago. What are the chances that he replaces Joe Maddon?

14:30- Adam Amin joins Kap to preview the Bulls/Mavericks game and discuss the lack of defense in the NBA.

NBA Power Rankings: League on pace for best offensive season in decades

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USA TODAY

NBA Power Rankings: League on pace for best offensive season in decades

The NBA season is off to an explosive start, with offense being the theme so far.

NBA fans have gotten to see great offense from all around the league. Rookie guard Trae Young went off for 35 points, the Pelicans scored 149 points in a (no overtime) game and even well-known downtrodden franchises like the Sacramento Kings have got in on the fun, putting up 131 points in a surprising win over the Thunder. 

If the pace of play keeps up league-wide, the 2018-19 season will end up being an offensive masterpiece, sure to spark change to defensive systems in the ever-evolving NBA.

With the Golden State Warriors still shaking off rust and the Rockets looking weaker, (relatively) new powerhouses like the Raptors and Nuggets have dominated this very early portion of the NBA season.

You can take a look here to see how the new hierarchy is shaping up in this week's NBA Power Rankings.