Blackhawks

Blackhawks breakdown: Johnny Oduya

774198.png

Blackhawks breakdown: Johnny Oduya

CSNChicago.com Blackhawks Insider Tracey Myers and PGL host Chris Boden will evaluate the 2011-12 performance of each player on the Hawks roster. One breakdown will occur every weekday in numerical order.

After joining the Blackhawks from the Winnipeg Jets in a trade deadline deal on Feb. 27, Johnny Oduya played in 18 games and scored one goal with four assists and a plus-3 rating. He was credited with 11 hits and 42 blocked shots in the regular season. In the six playoff games vs. Phoenix, Oduya picked up three assists and finished plus-1. He was credited with 10 hits and 10 blocked shots in the series.

Boden's take: Oduya was this years Chris Campoli. General manager Stan Bowman talked of adding defensive help at the trade deadline, and he did it for the second straight year. Oduyas impact was immediate (after Toronto scored on his first Blackhawks shift), as he moved the puck, blocked some shots, and added a handful of points after his acquisition from Winnipeg. He also made Nick Leddy better. An argument could be made that his addition was the biggest key for how well the team played down the stretch to secure a playoff spot. But his impact lessened as time went on, and he struggled during the playoff series against Phoenix -- not that he was the only one.

Myers' take: When the Blackhawks picked up the former Jets defenseman at the deadline, it was met with some skepticism. But it didn't take long to see that Oduya was a good fit with this group. Oduya helped balance out a defense that sorely needed it, adding a veteran touch and taking the weight off the young defensemen's (Leddy and Dylan Olsen) shoulders. Duncan Keith spoke highly of him all season. So did Patrick Kane, who loved the long out passes that Oduya was able to throw his way. Alas, as good as Oduya was during the regular-season stretch run, he was that invisible during the postseason.

2012-13 Expectations

Boden: It would be nice to have Oduya back, but not at the price tag he carried in 2011-12 (3.5 million) as he enters unrestricted free agency. This team has only about 6 million to spend under the existing salary cap, which might shrink. On top of that, his game is a lot like the existing defensive corps (outside of Brent Seabrook) and the Hawks already have some hefty financial commitments beyond the top pair (Niklas Hjalmarsson and Steve Montador). Unless one of those two isnt back, you know how I believe the Hawks should invest -- or swap for -- on the back end if youve read any of these other individual defensive assessments (size and toughness). Thats also counting upon Leddy to be a more consistent, improved puck-mover as well.

Myers: Much like last season, when they got Campoli at the deadline, the Blackhawks will probably look to sign Oduya to another deal. At least that's what Bowman said at the season-ending media day. Oduya will come at a higher price than Campoli would have after earning 3.5 million last season. He did bring good balance, and the Blackhawks need that again next season. But if the Hawks get to the postseason, Oduya has to be more noticeable.

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 Oduya above.

Up next: Bryan Bickell

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Reacting to Round 1 of NHL Draft

hawks-pod-draft.jpg
USA TODAY

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Reacting to Round 1 of NHL Draft

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle and Charlie Roumeliotis recap Round 1 of the 2018 NHL Draft.

They discuss the pair of puck-carrying defensemen that the Blackhawks selected on Friday, Adam Boqvist and Nicolas Beaudin. When can we expect to see these first-round picks play in the NHL?

Boyle also goes 1-on-1 with Boqvist and Beaudin. The guys spoke with Stan Bowman and Joel Quenneville on Friday.

The guys also share their biggest takeaways from those interviews, which includes your daily Corey Crawford update and Quenneville appeared excited that the team has plenty of cap space to spend in free agency.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

It's only one start, but that's the Lucas Giolito that White Sox fans expected to see this season

0622-lucas-giolito.jpg
USA TODAY

It's only one start, but that's the Lucas Giolito that White Sox fans expected to see this season

The preseason expectations and the results have been drastically different for Lucas Giolito.

Expected to be the best pitcher on the White Sox starting staff, Giolito hasn’t come too close to that title, instead heading into Friday’s doubleheader with the most earned runs allowed of any pitcher in baseball. His walk total has been among the highest in the game all year long, too. And the calls from social media to send him down to Triple-A haven’t been at all infrequent.

But Friday, White Sox fans got a glimpse at what they expected, a look at the guy who earned so much hype with a strong September last season and a dominant spring training.

It wasn’t a performance that would make any reasonable baseball person’s jaw drop. But it was the best Giolito has looked this season. He still allowed four runs on seven hits — as mentioned, not a Cy Young type outing — but he struck out a season-high eight batters. Prior to giving up the back-to-back singles to start the eighth inning that brought an end to his evening, he’d surrendered just two runs.

Most importantly he walked just two guys and didn’t seem to struggle with his command at all. That’s a big deal for a pitcher who had 45 walks to his name prior to Friday.

“You know it was a tough eighth inning, but throughout the whole game, I felt in sync,” Giolito said. “(Catcher Omar Narvaez) and I were working really well, finally commanding the fastball the way I should. Definitely the best I felt out there this year, for sure. Velocity was up a tick. Just felt right, felt in sync. Just competed from there.”

Confidence has never left Giolito throughout the poor results, and he’s talked after every start about getting back on the horse and giving it another try. Consistently working in between starts, things finally seemed to click Friday night.

“It all worked today,” manager Rick Renteria said. “(Pitching coach Don Cooper) says that every bullpen has gotten better, from the beginning to this point. He sees progress. The velocity that he showed today was something that Coop was seeing in his work. You can see that his delivery is continuing to improve. He was trusting himself, really attacking the strike zone, trusted his breaking ball today when he need to and just tried to command as much as he could. Did a nice job.”

Giolito went through this kind of thing last year, when he started off poorly at Triple-A Charlotte with a 5.40 ERA through his first 16 starts. But then things got better, with Giolito posting a 2.78 ERA over his final eight starts with the Knights before getting called up to the big leagues.

This was just one start, of course, but perhaps he can follow a similar formula this year, too, going from a rough beginning to figuring things out.

“I’m not trying to tinker or think about mechanics anymore,” he said. “It’s about flow, getting out there and making pitches. We were able to do that for the most part.

“I’ll watch video and see certain things, and I have little cues here and there. But I’m not going to go and overanalyze things and nitpick at certain stuff anymore. It’s about going there and having fun and competing.”

Maybe that’s the secret. Or maybe this is simply a brief flash of brilliance in the middle of a tough first full season in the bigs.

Whatever it was, it was the best we’ve seen of Giolito during the 2018 campaign. And it was far more like what was expected back before that campaign got going.