Blackhawks

Common drafting trend in NFC North?

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Common drafting trend in NFC North?

Its pretty evident the Bears and every NFC North team went specifically for need when dissecting the 2012 NFL Draft. How could this happen? Fans have been told repeatedly by organizations that they solely the draft best player available unless trading up or down to target a certain player. My thoughts exactly as teams like the Bears targeted their guy, Alshon Jeffery, by trading up to fill a huge need in the 2nd round. Lets all leave the blinders on and assume it was just happenstance that every NFC North team did not draft for need. The selections tell another story:

Bears - Do Bear fans agree with the first round selection of DE Shea McClellin? The Bears desperately needed a pass rusher opposite Julius Peppers. Is McClellin the real answer when many had him slated for OLB in a 3-4 Defense? The need for a defensive end seems to have clouded the judgment of the actual selection. Only time will tell for McClellin, but the Bears will tell fans all day long they love the pick. Another desperate need was to address getting more playmakers for Jay Cutler. Knowing the likeliness of not having Johnny Knox for the 2012 NFL Season, Jeffery was selected in the second round.

Green Bay Did general manager Ted Thompson not think there was one, NOT ONE offensive player better than any of the defensive players selected through the first five rounds? Here are the selections: DE, DT, LB, DT, SS, OLB, then in Round 7 OT and finally QB. The reality is the Packers ranked last in the NFL in total defense in 2011. The Packers gave up a dreadful 411.6 yards per game.

Detroit I live in Detroit, so understand when I wake up to read the Monday morning paper, there will be at least one quote by head coach Jim Schwartz concerning his unhappiness with RT Gosder Cherilus. Thus, the Lions drafted OT Riley Reiff from Iowa in the first round and WR Ryan Broyles in the second round to eventually replace Nate Burleson. The rest of the Lions selections reflected their needs on defense. Here are the Lions picks after Round 2: CB, OLB, OLB, CB, OLB and CB. I wonder if Lions general manager Martin Mayhew just lucked into these top defensive players considering the Lions defense was ranked 23rd overall. Detroit has specifically been weak in the back 7 of their defense, often playing players out of position.

Minnesota - Mmmmm. General manager Rick Spielman stated before the draft that, Matt Kalil, Morris Claiborne and Trent Richardson all rated equally on Minnesotas draft board. The left tackle ultimately was chosen after the Vikings traded down one spot with Cleveland who selected Richardson. Again, the reality is Minnesota has to score more points. The only way to score more points is to butter the bread of their All-Pro running back, Adrian Peterson. Selecting the needed LT will also help out the most important position on the field, their young quarterback, Christian Ponder. The Vikings only scored 22.1 points per game, ranking 19th in the NFL. Green Bay led the league in scoring with 35 points per game and Detroit was fourth in scoring with 29.6 points a game. Minnesota addressed their need to score more points by selecting Kalil.

Robin Lehner's honest assessment of Blackhawks: 'It looks far away but it’s really close'

Robin Lehner's honest assessment of Blackhawks: 'It looks far away but it’s really close'

The Blackhawks wanted to take advantage of seven straight games at the United Center after kicking off the 2019-20 campaign in Prague, but it hasn't exactly gone according to plan.

They're 2-2-2 through the first six home games as they prepare to host Philadelphia on Thursday for the final tilt of the homestand, but the Blackhawks feel like they've left points on the table. The last two games especially, the feeling around the locker room is that the two losses aren't reflective of the overall performance.

After dominating the Washington Capitals in every aspect but the scoresheet on Sunday, the Blackhawks were 1:33 away from shutting out one of the most dangerous Western Conference teams in Vegas before falling 2-1 in a shootout. That's one point out of a possible four when it easily could've been four out of four for the Blackhawks.

Robin Lehner was fantastic against the Golden Knights, turning aside 33 of 34 shots for .971 save percentage. And he was very honest about his assessment of the team after the game and had an optimistic but realistic viewpoint.

"When I chose to sign with this team, it’s because I really believe in this team," Lehner said. "There’s a lot of great hockey players on this club and we’ve seen it in spurts in the beginning of the season. I think the last few games have been really really good. Small, small details and we’re going to be very dangerous. I’m really liking what I’m seeing from a lot of the guys. A lot of the young guys are playing great and the core guys here, maybe it looks far away but it’s really close. It really is.

"Washington is a good team, Vegas is a good team, and at times we were totally dominating. It should have been 4-0 after two. Couple of posts were in the way, couple of missed bounces. That’s hockey sometimes. If we just keep playing like we’re going, we’re going to get good results and we’re going to have a good season."

Lehner is coming from a New York Islanders team that allowed the fewest goals against last season, and the fact the Blackhawks gave up only three high-danger chances at even strength and were 5-for-5 on the penalty kill against a Vegas team who had a top-five power play going into Tuesday's matchup is encouraging. 

Lehner is as candid as they come and he legitimately believes the Blackhawks are trending in the right direction, despite what the results may show. And if the Blackhawks can play like they have the last two games, the points will even out over time.

"There’s a lot of new guys to this team," Lehner said. "Great core players, a lot of new guys. They’re still trying to implement the system and we’re getting better and better at it. Again, I think we’ve seen it really well in spurts when we manage the puck and when we stick to our details. Such an offensive-talented team. If we just can keep going like this, we’re going to be successful. It really is.

"Honestly right now, I don’t even care about the standings, because we’re going to start getting wins. We’ve played some good teams and I think we’ve dominated them at times and are these small mistakes and we just gotta keep pushing the pace like the third today, we just got to keep pushing. We’ve got to keep pushing. We’ve got to keep attacking."

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Nationals join White Sox as only teams to beat Gerrit Cole since April

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USA TODAY

Nationals join White Sox as only teams to beat Gerrit Cole since April

Baseball fans might want to sit down for this shocking news: Gerrit Cole lost last night.

The Washington Nationals played in and won a World Series game for the first time in their history, but the more hard-to-believe news was Cole's performance, in which the potential AL Cy Young winner gave up five runs and took the "L."

That result made the Nationals the first team to hand Cole a loss since May 22, when he lost to the White Sox in Houston. The two squads are the only teams Cole has lost to since the calendar switched from April to May. It was just the third time since that loss to the White Sox in which the Astros lost a game Cole started.

That goes to show you just how insanely good Cole has been this season. Between losses, he owned a 1.59 ERA in 25 games, including his first three starts of this postseason. All in all during the regular season, he led the American League with a 2.50 ERA and led baseball with 326 strikeouts.

But the Nationals flipped that script in Game 1, tagging Cole for five runs on eight hits, including a pair of homers off the bats of Juan Soto and Ryan Zimmerman. It was a performance reminiscent of that May night, when the White Sox scored six runs off Cole, getting home runs against the ace from Eloy Jimenez and Jose Abreu.

Of course, this statistical happenstance won't be the only thing tying Cole to the White Sox this fall. The South Siders have starting pitching at the top of their offseason to-do list, and Cole will be the biggest name on the free-agent market. What's expected to be the richest pitching contract in baseball history and a supposed preference to play on the West Coast might lessen the chances that Rick Hahn's front office will reel Cole in, but they're just one offseason removed from chasing the two biggest names on the free-agent market, when they pursued Manny Machado and Bryce Harper last winter.

Cole in a White Sox uniform come Opening Day? Maybe if Cole subscribes to the old logical of "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em."

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