Bulls

Blackhawks breakdown: Marian Hossa

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Blackhawks breakdown: Marian Hossa

Marian Hossa played in 81 games and averaged just under 20 minutes of ice time per game in 2011-12. Hossa nearly performed at a point-per-game pace, scoring 29 goals with 48 assists for 77 points. Nine goals and 11 assists came on the power play with two goals and assist when the Hawks were shorthanded. Hossa also had four game-winning goals. He finished the regular season at plus-18 and was credited with 73 hits.

Hossa's playoff run was cut short due to the vicious hit by Phoenix's Raffi Torres in Game 3. Prior to that, he was unable to record a point while going plus-3 in the first two games of the series.

Boden's take: Things went from bad to worst for Hossa with the Torres hit. That game was the 11th in a row he'd failed to score a goal, and he collected just four assists over that time. Still, up until that point, figure he and Patrick Sharp were neck-and-neck for being this team's MVP for the regular season. Ironically, this was his healthiest season since becoming a Hawk, missing just one game. He still dominated stretches of games with his strength with -- and handling of -- the puck.

Myers' take: The big right wing finally got a decent summers worth of rest after three consecutive Cup runs, and it showed in his game immediately last season. Whether it was all of that recuperation, his teaming with Patrick Kane, or both, Hossa was stellar, scoring 20 of his goals before the All-Star break. But after that All-Star trip to Ottawa, he tailed off. He was one of several Blackhawks stars who dipped around that time, which included that awful nine-game winless streak. Hossas last goal came on March 20, and he was quiet during the first two games of the postseason. Then, of course, Torres ended his season with that hit to the head in Game 3. It was a brutal injury for a player who was finally having a healthy season again.

2012-13 Expectations

Boden: Everyone's hoping Hossa's back at full strength whenever training camp begins, but this concussion recovery started out at an extremely slow pace. The fact that he doesn't need to rush back over these months is hopefully a plus, but a head injury that severe makes the process even more uncertain and makes the victim more vulnerable once he does return to play.

He was in optimum shape last season, so the hope is he'll have enough time to get close to that by the time the curtain goes up. He'll also turn 34 next January. While his career high of 45 goals and 100 points might not be attainable again, the Hawks would certainly take the season he gave them last year. It might also help if Joel Quenneville and his staff can take some of the penalty-killing load off of him to save his battery.

Myers: First things first: hope Hossa regains his health, 100 percent, this offseason. Hossa didnt sound well when he talked with the media on May 3. But general manager Stan Bowman said last week that hes getting reports that Hossa is feeling better. He has some time before hed start his normal offseason workout routine and hopefully he will be able to begin that on time. Bowman hopes Hossa will be ready by training camp. But considering the nature of this injury and its unpredictable recovery process, he just needs to regain his health first and foremost.

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

Up next: Patrick Kane

SportsTalk Live Podcast: A sprained MCL and Trubisky's performance. vs the Pats

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: A sprained MCL and Trubisky's performance. vs the Pats

David Haugh, Jordan Cornette, Shae Peppler join David Kaplan on the panel.

0:00- Mark Schanowski joins SportsTalk Live to discuss Kris Dunn’s sprained MCL, Fred Hoiberg’s tough luck and Zach LaVine postgame criticisms of the coaching. Plus they’ll discuss another 0-3 team- LeBron’s Lakers.

20:00 – The panel discusses Mitchell Trubisky’s performance vs. the Patriots. Jordan makes the case that the media is giving the former No. 2 pick a pass.

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

Sports Talk Live Podcast

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Bulls bracing for a Kemba Walker onslaught

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USA TODAY

Bulls bracing for a Kemba Walker onslaught

Through the opening week of the NBA season, Hornets' All-Star point guard Kemba Walker and former Bull Niko Mirotic share the league scoring lead, averaging 33 points per game.

Bulls' fans have seen these hot stretches from Niko before, and chances are he'll start moving down to the mid to high-teens before long. But Walker is a big-time scorer who's quietly emerged as one of the most consistently productive point guards in a league loaded with stars at that position. He's averaged over 20 points and 5 assists in each of the last three seasons, making the Eastern Conference All-Star team twice.

Last season, Walker lit up the Bulls for 47 points in an overtime loss at the United Center in November, making some of the most difficult shots you can imagine to keep his team in the game. He seems to be as this best when facing the Bulls and you can bet Fred Hoiberg and his staff will pull out all the stops to try to slow him down, especially with defensive ace Kris Dunn out 4-6 weeks after suffering a sprained left MCL in his season debut on Monday.

The Hornets made some personnel changes since last season. The one-year experiment with Dwight Howard at center is over. Howard put up solid numbers for Charlotte a year ago, but didn't make much difference in the win-loss column, so he's moved on to Washington in his NBA odyssey. Cody Zeller is now the starting center, backed up by Bismack Biyombo and former Benet Academy and University of Wisconsin star Frank Kaminsky.

Charlotte tried to improve the athleticism on their roster by selecting Malik Monk and Miles Bridges in the first rounds of the last two drafts. Monk is getting more playing time this season, averaging 13.5 points in the Hornets' first four games. Bridges is averaging just under 16 minutes a game as a backup to starting forwards Marvin Williams and Nic Batum. Just like he did at Michigan State, Bridges is providing those highlight reel putback dunks, but it remains to be seen whether he'll develop a consistent enough outside shot to be a quality starter in the NBA.

The well-traveled Jeremy Lamb is now starting in the backcourt with Walker, and the Hornets brought in long-time Spurs' point guard Tony Parker to add some much needed experience and veteran savvy off the bench. Given the current state of the Eastern Conference (post-LeBron), it's not out of the question for this group to contend for one of the final playoff spots.

Here's what the Bulls need to do for a shot at their first win of the season. This also applies to the rematch in Charlotte on Friday.

1. CORRAL KEMBA. For whatever reason, seeing that Bulls' logo turns Walker into an almost unstoppable scoring machine. Walker is adept at working off his big men, either in straight pick and rolls or cutting through the post on give-and-go plays. He's one of the league's most creative scorers, and doesn't require much room to get his shot off. The Bulls' bigs will have to provide help on Walker whenever he comes off screens to keep him from taking over the game.

2. PUT THE BALL IN ZACH'S HANDS. Whether he's playing shooting guard or point guard, Zach LaVine needs to be the primary facilitator with Dunn sidelined. LaVine scored 34 points against Dallas Monday night on just 15 shots, which led to him questioning some of the offensive sets that were run in the 2nd half. LaVine told reporters on Tuesday that he smoothed things over with his head coach, explaining his comments were the result of the frustration he was feeling after a third-straight loss to open the season. Still, LaVine is on a major hot streak, joining Bulls' all-time greats Michael Jordan and Bob Love as the only players to start the year with three straight games scoring at least 30 points. The Bulls will need to ride that hot hand for as far as LaVine can carry them.

3. DEFEND THE 3-POINT LINE. You knew I would eventually get to this, right? Dallas made 15 of 47 3-point attempts on Monday after the Pistons knocked down 18 of 40 in a two-point win last Saturday. The Hornets have all kinds of capable 3-point shooters in Walker, Lamb, Monk, Batum and Williams (they're shooting .397 as a team on 3's), so guarding the arc will be crucial for the Bulls to have a chance at their first win.

Don’t forget you can catch Wednesday's game on NBC Sports Chicago and the new MyTeams by NBC sports app. Coverage begins at 6:30 pm when Kendall Gill, Will Perdue and Kelly Crull join me for Bulls Pregame Live from the United Center Atrium. Neil Funk and Stacey King have the play-by-play call at 7 pm, then stay tuned after the final buzzer for Bulls Postgame Live and the always entertaining Bulls Outsiders.