Coyotes' dirty hits don't stop with Torres


Coyotes' dirty hits don't stop with Torres

Raffi Torres' vicious hit on Marian Hossa was enough to infuriate Blackhawks fans and earn the repeat offender a 25-game suspension. On Thursday, he will appeal his punishment, but he's unlikely to get off early.

On Wednesday night, Phoenix continued a series of dirty hits and slashes even without Torres, which could earn the Coyotes additional suspensions and ultimately kill their chances to advance in the playoffs.

A hat trick by Jeff Carter and goal by Dwight Kings earned the Kings a huge 4-0 shutout against the Coyotes in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals.

Losing two consecutive games at home has to hurt, but the Coyotes' reactions could end up ailing their team much more than the loss itself.

Here's a look at some of the plays that could lead to suspensions for Phoenix:

Shane Doan started the streak of bad hits, and the Phoenix captain was thrown out of the game after checking Trevor Lewis from behind, causing him to bleed from the nose and upper lip. Although it wasn't pretty, this is the hit I feel can be excused the most. Doan's check could have really injured Lewis, but he had a lot of speed going into the hit and Lewis turned at the last second:

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Martin Hanzel boards Dustin Brown from behind, leveling him onto the ice:

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Mike Smith decides slashing his stick into Brown is appropriate, and somehow Brownie gets the suspension for unsportsmanlike conduct. I understand Los Angeles' captain has a reputation of embellishing hits on the ice, but I'm pretty sure anyone would have that same reaction if a 6'4, 215 pound hockey player did this to them:

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After last night's game, Smith and Hanzal should both earn a suspension for their hits. Neither were appropriate or legal and could have really affected Brown's future throughout the postseason. But the chances of suspending Smith are highly unlikely--putting Jason LaBarbera in the net during the Western Conference finals would ultimately kill any chance the Coyotes still have of advancing.

If anyone will get suspended from Wednesday night's matchup, it will be Martin Hanzal. Maybe Torres will have a watch buddy during the remainder of the postseason.

Kings in the North: Bears top Packers, win division for first time since 2010


Kings in the North: Bears top Packers, win division for first time since 2010

The Bears accomplished Goal No. 1 for 2018 on Sunday, beating the Green Bay Packers 24-17 at Soldier Field to clinch their first NFC North crown — and playoff berth — in eight years. 

In doing so — and in tandem with the Minnesota Vikings’ win over the Miami Dolphins — the Bears also eliminated Aaron Rodgers and the Packers from the playoffs. That’ll only make the biggest “Club Dub” celebration of 2018 even sweeter. 

The Bears showed the kind of improvements that’ve been building all season since blowing a 20-point lead at Lambeau Field in Week 1. This was a team that, with the score tied at 14 in the fourth quarter, made the kind of plays in the final 15 minutes necessary to vanquish a Rodgers-led Packers side. Mitch Trubisky threw a touchdown to a wide-open Trey Burton. Tarik Cohen darted 44 yards on a punt return. Leonard Floyd and Khalil Mack tormented Rodgers to force back-to-back three-and-outs while the offense put up 10 points to take the lead. 

And when Rodgers drove Green Bay into the red zone late in the fourth quarter, Eddie Jackson hauled in a tipped pass for an interception that ended Rodgers’ streak without a pick at 402 passes. Perhaps the only thing that went wrong in the fourth quarter for the Bears was Jackson suffering an injury on that interception and limping into the locker room.  

This was a massively important win for the Bears beyond officially clinching the division, an achievement that seemed inevitable with a 2 1/2-game lead over the Vikings heading into the season’s final three games. The Bears ended an eight-game home losing streak against the Packers, including the 2011 NFC Championship, proving that this division-winning team is opening a new chapter in this storied rivalry. 

The Bears can now turn their focus to finishing the season on a high note with not only a playoff spot locked in, but in all likelihood, the NFC’s No. 3 seed. The next time the Bears will be at Soldier Field, it’ll be for a playoff game. 

And taking a step back: That’s an incredible achievement for Matt Nagy and this franchise, one which has endured so much losing over the last few years. 

The Bears are going to the playoffs, and they confirmed that against the Packers. It’s hard to imagine a sweeter sentence for fans to read.

White Sox top prospect Eloy Jimenez likely to be shut down until spring training


White Sox top prospect Eloy Jimenez likely to be shut down until spring training

Eloy Jimenez will be ending his winter ball a bit earlier than expected. 

According to Bruce Levine of 670 The Score, the White Sox are likely to shut down Jimenez (quad injury) until spring training.

As Levine points out, the White Sox top prospect was scheduled to be shut down next week.

James Fegan of The Athletic reported on Saturday that Jimenez had been dealing with a quad injury and was day-to-day, so it's no surprise the White Sox want to play it safe with a guy they believe has superstar potential.

In eight games, Jimenez hit .448/.500/.759 for Gigantes in the Dominican Winter League.

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