Bears

Blackhawks breakdown: Andrew Shaw

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Blackhawks breakdown: Andrew Shaw

Andrew Shaw's short rookie season saw him score 12 goals with 11 assists (23 points) in 37 games. He delivered 82 hits, accumulated 50 penalty minutes, blocked 21 shots and finished minus-1 while playing a little over 15 minutes per game. In three playoff games, he was unable to record a point while shelling out seven hits and going minus-1.

Boden's take: There were unpleasant surprises from some underachievers this past season. The most pleasant surprise came absolutely out of nowhere. You know the route Shaw took by now. The small package has a huge fire burning inside him and he provided a huge shot in the arm twice to this club -- and they really needed it. I'd shudder to think how much more of a struggle the season would have been if Shaw hadn't been such a gift. But the 5-foot-10, 180-pound, 21-year-old gave this team something it sorely needed.

Myers' take: And now we come to the little engine that could - and did. Shaw came up in January and made an immediate impact with a fight and a goal against the Philadelphia Flyers. He was sent down for a bit and recalled under the condition that he got back to being an aggressive forward first and a scoring one second. Shaw was strong in his second stint, bringing both that edge and offense to a Blackhawks team that needed it down the stretch. The team missed his presence when he was slapped with a three-game suspension for hitting goaltender Mike Smith in Game 2 of the playoffs. But the guy built a mini cult following here in Chicago, and players loved him for the spark and snark he brought to the lineup.

2012-13 Expectations

Boden: This will be one of the more interesting individual seasons to watch. Is there the proverbial "sophomore slump" looming? How close will he come to providing the kind of pace, production-wise, that he had this season (23 points in 37 games)? Will Joel Quenneville need to elevate him to provide some spark on the top two lines?

If he is just as effective over a full season management might need to think of bumping up his 565,000 salary next summer, heading into the final year of his entry-level deal. Like Daniel Carcillo, finding the right balance between hard, edgy play and suspensions will be something to keep an eye on.

Myers: When Shaw came back from suspension he said he was going to keep playing with that edge that brought him more success than slaps last season. Thats good; and his work last season should put him ahead of the curve when he enters training camp in September. Shaw has a great fearlessness that the Blackhawks need moving forward, and if he plays this fall like he did last spring, hell be in great shape.

How do you feel about this evaluation? As always, be sure to chime in with your thoughts by commenting below and check out highlights of Shaw above.

Up next: Michael Frolik

On a scale of 1-10, Tarik Cohen says his dangerous level is 12

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USA Today

On a scale of 1-10, Tarik Cohen says his dangerous level is 12

Don't be fooled by Tarik Cohen's height. He has towering confidence and he's setting up to have a big role in coach Matt Nagy's offense in 2018.

“On a scale of 1-10, the dangerous level is probably 12,” Cohen said Thursday at Halas Hall about the impact he can have in the Bears' new system. “Because in backyard football, it’s really anything goes, and it’s really whoever gets tired first, that’s who’s going to lose. I’m running around pretty good out here, so I feel like I’m doing a good job.”

Cohen proved last season he can thrive in space. He made an impact as a runner, receiver and return man and will have a chance at an even bigger workload this fall, assuming he can handle it.

With Jordan Howard established as the starting running back, Cohen knows his touches will come in a variety of ways.

“It might not necessarily be rushes,” he said. “But it’s going to be all over the field, and that’s what I like to do. Any way I can get the ball or make a play for my team, that’s what I’m looking forward to doing.”

Cohen averaged 4.3 yards-per-carry as a rookie and led all NFL running backs in the percentage of carries that went for at least 15 yards. He's a big play waiting to happen.

Howard can't get too comfortable in his first-team role. He's a few bad series from Cohen unseating him as the starter and becoming the most valuable weapon in Nagy's offense. The first-year coach is already having trouble hiding his excitement over Cohen, an emotion that will only grow once training camp gets underway.

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 10th, 11th homers in 1998

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 10th, 11th homers in 1998

It's the 20th anniversary of the Summer of Sammy, when Sosa and Mark McGwire went toe-to-toe in one of the most exciting seasons in American sports history chasing after Roger Maris' home run record. All year, we're going to go homer-by-homer on Sosa's 66 longballs, with highlights and info about each. Enjoy.

Sosa is heating up, but even a red-hot Sosa doesn't automatically equal wins for the Cubs.

Slammin' Sammy notched his first multi-homer game in 1998 in a 9-5 loss to Kevin Millwood and the Atlanta Braves. Sosa drove in 4 of the Cubs' 5 runs on a solo shot in the 4th inning and a three-run shot in the 8th. 

Sosa tallied 830 feet of homers in the game, with his first blast going 410 feet and the second shot measured at 420 feet.

The big game bumped Sosa's overall season slash line to .337/.411/.551 (.962 OPS) with 11 homers and 35 RBI.

Fun fact: Mickey Morandini hit second for the Cubs in this game and went 4-for-4, but somehow only scored one run despite hitting just in front of Sosa all game. That's because Morandini was caught stealing to end the 3rd inning, leaving Sosa to lead off the 4th inning with a solo blast.