Blackhawks

Can we blame the Rose injury on NBA schedule?

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Can we blame the Rose injury on NBA schedule?

From Comcast SportsNet
The NBA's compressed schedule, with 66 games in four months followed by one day off before the playoffs, was tough on everyone. Did it cause more injuries? "Yeah, probably," Chicago's Joakim Noah said. "Probably." What about the torn ACLs that ended the season for Derrick Rose and Iman Shumpert on Saturday? Unlikely, said a surgeon. "There is no evidence that wear and tear, or that kind of issue, playing too much, really has any correlation with ACL injuries in any sport that we've ever studied," Dr. David Altchek from the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York said Sunday. Rose, last season's MVP, was hurt in the final minutes of Chicago's Game 1 victory over Philadelphia, and the Knicks' Shumpert went down a short while later. The blame game started soon after, with many pointing the finger at the hectic post-lockout schedule. Boston center Jermaine O'Neal, whose season ended early after wrist surgery, wrote on his Twitter page that it was a "clear sign" of fatigued bodies from a condensed season, writing "2 torn acl injuries to key players!" But Altchek argues that too much playing could actually make a player less susceptible to the injuries that Rose and Shumpert sustained, because they might lack the type of explosiveness it takes to blow out a knee ligament. "In fact, I think if you're tired, you're a lot less likely to tear your ACL because you're not going to be as explosive," said Altchek, who has operated on players such as Josh Howard, David West and Purdue's Robbie Hummel, and been a consultant for the NBA. NBA players and owners settled on a 66-game schedule starting on Christmas when they settled the lockout during Thanksgiving weekend. Though perhaps ambitious, both sides saw it as a way to make back as much lost revenue as possible. Spokesman Tim Frank said that with respect to the season, the league had "ongoing discussions with team doctors and athletic trainers about best practices and planning for injuries." The revised schedule amounted to about two extra games a month for teams, from 14 to 16. Though the league said the injury rate was about the same as in a normal 82-game season, players say they felt a difference. "This has been a compressed season, a lot more games, a lot less practice time, a lot less recovery time," Knicks guard Baron Davis said. "You can definitely look at the season and just look at the schedule and say that guys really never got the ample amount of time to rest and heal their bones because you're fighting for playoff position. It's game after game after game. So, you know, it's tough. But there's injuries, there's freak injuries in basketball that's always happening." They've knocked out players such as Dwight Howard, Al Horford, Andrew Bogut, Jeremy Lin and Stephen Curry, but most were injuries that could come from excessive usage, such as sprains and strains. Alchek said ACL tears, far more common in female athletes, are scary injuries in that there's little explanation for how to prevent them. He said the non-contact version that both Rose and Shumpert sustained are often more prevalent in the strongest, healthiest athletes. Contact ACL tears, Altchek said, are the kind that can happen to a football player hit on the side of the knee. But Rose was jumping to stop when he was injured, and Shumpert was trying to maneuver with a behind-the-back dribble when he crumbled to the court. Both players battled injuries during the season, with Rose missing 27 games for groin, back, toe, foot and ankle problems. There was a mixture of anger and sympathy around the NBA when the popular reigning MVP went down, possibly taking the Bulls' title hopes with him. Bulls general manager Gar Forman said Rose's previous injuries or the schedule did not lead to the ACL tear. But players don't seem so certain. "There's a lot of speculation. And it doesn't matter. We're in this season, we played the games, we're in the playoffs now. Hopefully no one else goes down with these type of injuries," Miami's Dwyane Wade said. "It's not anything that we want to see for none of our players to go down with injuries. So you don't know. You don't know if it was because of the condensed season. You don't know what the case may be. The biggest thing is that them guys get healthy." Twitter became a forum for debate about the schedule's role even before Rose and Shumpert were in their hospital rooms. Former player and ESPN analyst Jalen Rose listed some players that had gone down, putting the blame on the schedule. For some injuries, it may have been. Just not the two from Saturday. "There really is no evidence of that, in any athlete, that wear and tear, like gradual wearing away of the ACL, is an issue in terms of the injury," Altchek said.

Was Dennis Gilbert's Sunday scrap the right move for Blackhawks?

Was Dennis Gilbert's Sunday scrap the right move for Blackhawks?

When Blackhawks defenseman Dennis Gilbert skated after Jason Demers, hitting him into the boards, challenging him to fight and beating the doors off him in the second period with Chicago leading 3-2, he was sticking up for a teammate and trying to give the Hawks some life, but it cost them a puck in their own net.

So was it the right move?

"It is if we kill it," Blackhawks head coach Jeremy Colliton said of the Hawks being forced to kill Gilbert's instigator penalty. "And I think it sends a good message to the rest of the players that we're in this together and we're going to take care of each other. 

"But I would have liked us to react better the rest of the game after that and that's what we should do to protect each other. I thought that the penalty kill, we were looking for goals at times and when we had the chance to get the puck 200 feet down the ice, we didn't always do that. And I'm not against scoring goals, but let's be smart about it. It cost us."

Gilbert was responding to Demers' hit on Alex DeBrincat in front of the Coyotes' bench near center ice that caused DeBrincat to fall hard into the wall.

"Well, I think it was [a] pretty blatant [penalty] that was missed," Hawks defenseman Calvin de Haan said. "Alex's head went right off the boards. I don't know how they didn't call that one. But good on Dennis to step up and sometimes it takes a big set of cajones to do that. 

"He tried to get a spark for us and I think trying to stick up for your teammates is still part of the game, especially on a hit like that. Kudos to him and I think it was a key time in the game for us and he tried to turn the tables for us."

Gilbert received the instigator for going after Demers, which resulted in a Coyotes' power-play goal from Carl Soderberg. It was Gilbert's second fight in two games. 

"I think it fires us up," DeBrincat said. "I think he’s protecting me. I think he obviously thought it was a dirty hit and takes control of the play. 

"I think it makes a good play for me. I like that he does that. Obviously, at the same time we get a penalty out of it which is not always the best. 

"I think our bench can roll with that and try to kill that off. Unfortunately, we didn’t. Any other penalty we can probably kill off from that one."

Sticking up for a teammate in that fashion goes a long way. The Hawks have been missing a player that makes the opposition answer for their sins the way Gilbert does. You'd like to avoid taking an instigator, but the Blackhawks had an issue with a dangerous hit not being penalized.

It's up to the penalty kill to make that a good penalty. Unfortunately for Gilbert and company, they didn't get the job done. 

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Blackhawks are who we think they are: 'We're inconsistent'

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AP

Blackhawks are who we think they are: 'We're inconsistent'

Blackhawks head coach Jeremy Colliton has always preached focusing on the performance and letting the results take care of itself. Over time, water eventually finds its level.

The Blackhawks are a hard team to figure out.

When they're clicking, the Blackhawks look like a group that can compete with anyone because they can outscore any opponent and win the goaltending battle with either Corey Crawford or Robin Lehner between the pipes. When they're not, they look like a team that's closer to the basement of the NHL than the playoff bubble.

Take the past four games as an example.

The Blackhawks outshot the defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues 38-30 but lost 4-0 in a game that didn't feel very close. Then they went to Boston, where they knocked off the NHL's best team 4-3 in overtime despite squandering a three-goal lead in the third period.

Next up was New Jersey, where the Blackhawks and lowly Devils looked to be on the same playing field before the visiting team won 2-1 in a shootout. And on Sunday, the Blackhawks led 30-24 in even-strength scoring chances but racked up 27 penalty minutes and it proved to be the difference in a 4-3 shootout loss to the Arizona Coyotes, who are now tied for the Pacific Division lead.

It's challenging to evaluate who the Blackhawks are as a team because it changes on a nightly basis. So who are they?

"Well for now that is what we are," Colliton said. "We're inconsistent. And it's up to us to commit to doing the things shift-to-shift that will allow us to turn into something more. Simple as that." 

The good news for the Blackhawks is only six points separate themselves from the second wildcard spot and last place in the Western Conference. The bad news is the numbers show they're exactly where they should be.

As of Sunday, the Blackhawks have a PDO — a metric that combines on-ice shooting percentage and save percentage — of 100.7 during 5-on-5 play, according to Natural Stat Trick. The league average is 100, which suggests this is who the Blackhawks are through 30 games.

"We've just got to keep building on it," Robin Lehner said. "We got a point today, this time we've just got to respond. Next game is the most important game of our season because we've got to keep getting points here now."

Sunday marked the start of another tough stretch where the Blackhawks play seven of the next eight games against teams currently sitting in a playoff spot, all of whom are in the Western Conference, which only heightens the importance of these games.

The Blackhawks will take it one game at a time, but which team shows up for each of them is anybody's guess.

"They're all big," Colliton said of the next game. "It is important how we respond. Because we've had this up and down with our game and we can't expect to get where we want to go if that continues. ... You can have off nights, but then it's how you respond. So we got to respond."

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