Bears

Blackhawks breakdown: Jimmy Hayes

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Blackhawks breakdown: Jimmy Hayes

The 60th overall pick in the second round by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2008, Jimmy Hayes made his NHL debut on Dec. 30 and would go on to play a little over 10 minute per game in 31 games. Hayes scored five goals with four assists and finished at minus-3 while dishing out 50 hits. In limited time on the power play, he did record one goal and one assist with the man-advantage. Hayes played in two playoff games, failing to record a point and finishing minus-1.

Boden's take: After an impressive training camp, the numbers game caught up to the big winger. But when he was brought up early in the season, he collected four goals and three assists in just 14 games and was a presence around the net and in the corners. When the numbers forced him back to Rockford, his return engagement over the final month and a half wasn't as impressive -- not just statistically (one goal, one assist in 17 games), but his overall effectiveness slipped, too. He got a two-game shot in the playoffs, but didn't do much with it.

Myers' take: The young Hayes was a solid player out of training camp, and when the Blackhawks needed more size among their forwards near the turn of the new year, Hayes was the natural call-up. He impressed immediately, tallying four goals and seven assists in his first 10 games. Hayes is a solid skater for a big man, and that 6-foot-6 presence was a bonus in front of the oppositions net. It was a good debut for the 22-year-old, and certainly one off which he can build this season.

2012-13 Expectations

Boden: The Boston College product would seem to be on the verge of taking the next step into becoming an NHL roster mainstay. He turns 23 in November and has just an 875,000 salary cap hit over the next two seasons. Do the Hawks and their fans have the patience to stay with him through the ups and downs, or is another season of shuffling back-and-forth between Chicago and Rockford on the horizon?

He has the size and skill this team sorely needs, it's just a matter of how high his so-called "ceiling" is. As we speak, roster spots are few, but I have the feeling Hayes is among the top two or three prospects the organization would have the most difficulty parting with if they're seeking more immediate help. A pair of Los Angeles Kings rookies -- 22-year-olds Dwight King and Jordan Nolan -- are both 6-foot-3 and are playing important roles in the Kings' Stanley Cup run. Could Hayes be a similar ingredient for the Hawks next season? I'd like to see what he could do with that opportunity.

Myers: Hayes didnt play much in the postseason, but that spoke more to his raw, rookie status than anything else. With this offseason and another good training camp, Hayes could fight for a roster spot heading into October - or at least be one of the first call-ups the Blackhawks make. Hayes says hes constantly working on his skating, as most big men have to do. It was pretty good last year, so a little more honing there will round out his game.

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 Hayes above.

Up next: Corey Crawford

Power Rankings Roundup: People are pretty apathetic about losing to the Patriots

Power Rankings Roundup: People are pretty apathetic about losing to the Patriots

While the notion of a "good loss" is more coachspeak than anything of real substance, it looks like NFL media agree. 

After a close loss to the Patriots -- about three feet close, to be exact -- Power Rankings makers aren't blaming the Bears too much. In fact, shoutout to our mothership, Big NBC Sports, for actually *raising* the Bears in their latest rankings. Thanks guys! 

Here's what they're saying: 

Ours: #17, down 4 -
You can do worse than barely losing to the Patriots, but what on earth has happened to Chicago's defense?

NBCSports: #10, up 1 - 
Bears went toe-to-toe with the Patriots and made it to the later rounds before taking one on the chin. No shame in that.

NFL.com: #11, N/A - 
The opportunities were there for the Bears, who took it to the Patriots in the first half Sunday. The second half was a different story, as Chicago was stuck in catch-up mode.

Washington Post: #16, down 1 - 
The Bears came up a yard shy of a tying TD on the Hail Mary against the Patriots. This was a far less egregious loss than falling to Brock Osweiler and the Dolphins a week earlier. But it was still a loss.

ESPN: #13, down 1 - 
Need more from: RB Jordan Howard. Howard is averaging only 3.46 yards per rush, which ranks 41st out of 47 qualifying running backs. Bears running backs as a whole rank 30th with 1.45 yards after contact per rush, and Mitchell Trubisky has led the team in rushing in two of the past three games.

Sports Illustrated: #18, N/A - 
The Bears were 3-1 before starting a four-game tour of the AFC East. They need to take care of business against the Jets and Bills to keep pace in a tough NFC North.

Sporting News: #16, down 1 - 
Mitchell Trubisky and the offense have become a fun, unpredictable and mostly explosive roller-coaster ride, but the defense is showing it has plenty of leaks behind Khalil Mack.

FanSided: #17, down 2 - 
Mitchell Trubisky and those special teams were a disaster on Sunday.

Bleacher Report: #15, N/A - 
The problem is the Bears also have five tough divisional games remaining, including two with the Vikings. A date with the Rams also looms. However, if the Bears take care of business in the first four games mentioned, they will need to go just 3-3 in their remaining six matchups to go 10-6 and (presumably) make the playoffs.

Blackhawks assign Anton Forsberg to Rockford after clearing waivers

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks assign Anton Forsberg to Rockford after clearing waivers

Anton Forsberg cleared waivers on Tuesday morning and was assigned to the Rockford IceHogs in the American Hockey League.

That's good news for the Blackhawks organizational depth chart, with Forsberg as the No. 3 in goal. But it also complicates things in Rockford, where Collin Delia and Kevin Lankinen have been sharing the duties.

Delia is 3-1-0 with a 3.26 goals against average and .910 save percentage while Lankinen is 0-1-1 with a 3.39 GAA and .825 save percentage. Perhaps the most likely scenario is Lankinen gets sent to the ECHL with the Indy Fuel while Delia and Forsberg split the load in Rockford.

It's certainly a good problem to have, but it's still unclear how that dynamic will play out.

"We haven’t talked about that," coach Joel Quenneville said. "But we expect [Forsberg] to play."

Luke Johnson recalled

With a spot opening up on the 23-man roster, Johnson is being brought back up after he was squeezed out by Corey Crawford's return. He had a goal and an assist in two games with Rockford.

Brandon Saad returns to top-six role

After turning in arguably his best performance of the season on Sunday, Saad is back playing on the second line with Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane. He had seven shot attempts (three on goal) against Tampa Bay and led the team in 5-on-5 possession numbers.

"[Saad] is coming off a game where we liked what we saw," Quenneville said. "Playing with Kaner can help him get going."

Nick Schmaltz to play right side for first time in NHL career

Eight games into the season and Schmaltz has spent time at both center and left wing. Now he'll get a look on the right side with Alexandre Fortin on the left and David Kampf centering the third line.

Part of the reason for Schmaltz’s move to the right side was because Quenneville said they like Fortin on the left. It's not unfamiliar territory for Schmaltz, but could take some time getting used to.

"I played a little while back, not sure when," Schmaltz said "Just a little bit different. Catching pucks on your forehand now instead of your backhand. It's not a huge adjustment, just play with speed and compete hard and hopefully the skill on our line will take over."