Cubs

Crawford: My game is coming together

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Crawford: My game is coming together

Corey Crawford said his confidence never waivered. His game, however, did.

For part of this season Crawford wasnt looking like the strong, dependable goaltender that led the Blackhawks to the playoffs last season and earned him a three-year deal during the summer. He looked shaky, uncertain. Not confident.

But as the season wound down a switch flipped. The reliable, solid and yes, confident Crawford re-emerged. And now, hes looking very much like he did last season.

When Crawford starts Game 1 against the Phoenix Coyotes on Thursday, hell be going in riding a good streak. Since coming in to relieve Ray Emery on March 13, when he stopped all 18 shots he saw en route to a shootout victory over St. Louis Crawford is 8-1-2. Crawford never did get that elusive shutout this season, but he did get his game back to a better form by seasons end.

I like the way hes finished a big stretch of the season, the important part going into the playoffs, coach Joel Quenneville said. Hes got some momentum in his game and he was instrumental in us getting into the playoffs.

Crawford loves this time of year, as evidence by his work last spring against the Vancouver Canucks. He was tremendous, and just about goaltended the Blackhawks into the second round. He made some adjustments to his game late this season, and theyve paid off.

My timings on and I feel good, he said. Im picking the right spots to be aggressive and when to sit back a little bit. It just seems like my game is coming together.

And it couldnt happen at a better time.

I think hes really stepped up his game a few levels, Patrick Sharp. There were a lot of times last year (going into the playoffs) when we were answering questions about him, if he could do it. He was our best player in that Vancouver series. Hes gearing up to play well and we know he will.

Crawford said he never lost confidence. Nevertheless, it looks like hes regained his game.

He was huge in our success last year, just getting to the playoffs. He won a lot of games for us; Joel likes to call them goalie wins, and he did a lot of that for us last year, Patrick Kane said. Sometimes you go through lulls in the season; you can say that about me, too. But the most important time of the year is right now, and hes performing at his best right now. So thats nice to see.

Cubs to reportedly conduct second interview with Joe Espada for managerial opening

Cubs to reportedly conduct second interview with Joe Espada for managerial opening

Astros bench coach Joe Espada has two days off before Houston hosts Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday, but it looks like some of that time will be spent in Chicago.

According to multiple reports, the Cubs will interview Espada a second time for their managerial opening. MLB Network's Jon Heyman reports that the interview is happening on Sunday.

Espada is one of the more sought after managerial candidates this offseason, as he's spent the last six seasons with two of baseball's leading franchises. The 44-year-old has been Astros bench coach since 2018, and prior to that, he spent four seasons with the Yankees — 2014 as a front office assistant, 2015-17 as third base coach.

David Ross was the presumed favorite for the Cubs' opening, when the process got underway. However, by landing a second interview, Espada has clearly given the team something to think about. In fact, NBC Sports Chicago's David Kaplan reported on Thursday the Cubs came away "exceptionally impressed" from Espada's first interview on Monday. 

MLB prefers teams not to make managerial announcements during the World Series. So, it might be a few more weeks before the Cubs announce their decision, unless they do so on Sunday or Monday.

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Edgy Tim's Top 25 Preps Power Rankings: Week 8

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NBC Sports Chicago

Edgy Tim's Top 25 Preps Power Rankings: Week 8

Here are the latest @NBCSPreps Top 25 Power Rankings as teams embark on the final week of the regular season.

1. Lincoln-Way East 8-0 (1)
Last Week: Beat Sandburg, 40-0
This Week: vs Lincoln-Way West
EDGY's Take: The Griffins are aiming for a win against the Warriors this Friday. Will a top-see in Class 8A come their way Saturday night?

2. Mount Carmel 8-0 (2)
Last Week: Beat St. Viator, 37-7
This Week: vs Brother Rice
EDGY's Take: The Caravan pounced on four St. Viator turnovers in the first half. Mt. Carmel now gets one final conference test before the playoffs.

3. Nazareth Academy 8-0 (3)
Last Week: Beat Notre Dame, 21-0
This Week: @ Benet Academy
EDGY's Take: The Roadrunners' defense was spectacular Friday en route to a 21-0 shutout in Niles.

4. Loyola Academy 6-2 (4)
Last Week: Beat Marian Central Catholic, 52-0
This Week: vs Marist
EDGY's Take: The Ramblers' offense has averaged nearly 48 points per game since a Week 4 loss at Mount Carmel. 

5. Warren Township 8-0 (5)
Last Week: Beat Stevenson, 37-0
This Week: vs Mundelein
EDGY's Take: The Blue Devils defense has posted four shutouts and has allowed just 21 points all season.

6. Homewood-Flossmoor 7-1 (6)
Last Week: Beat Bolingbrook, 14-13
This Week: vs Lincoln-Way Central
EDGY's Take: The Vikings hang on and get a rivalry win over Bolingbrook.

7. Glenbard West 8-0 (7)
Last Week: Beat Hinsdale Central, 20-17 OT
This Week: @ Oak Park-River Forest
EDGY's Take: The Hitters' defense held Hinsdale Central to an overtime field goal; the running game did the rest in the extra session.

8. Neuqua Valley 7-1 (11)
Last Week: Beat Naperville North, 45-14
This Week: @ Metea Valley
EDGY's Take: The Wildcats win its first outright Dupage Valley conference title in school history.

9. Hersey 8-0 (12)
Last Week: Beat Elk Grove, 56-21
This Week: vs Rolling Meadows
EDGY's Take: The Huskies will now gear up for rival Rolling Meadows. It should be a terrific Mid-Suburban East title game.

10. Hinsdale Central 7-1 (9)
Last Week: Lost to Glenbard West, 20-17 OT
This Week: vs Lyons
EDGY's Take: The Red Devils have a lot to look forward to in the postseason, including the development of junior QB Michael Brescia.

11. Notre Dame 7-1 (8)
Last Week: Lost to Nazareth Academy, 21-0
This Week: @ St. Rita
EDGY's Take: How long will the Dons be without senior RB Julian Schurr? 
  
12. Bolingbrook 6-2 (10)
Last Week: Lost to H-F, 21-0
This Week: vs Andrew
EDGY's Take: Do not sleep on the Raiders this postseason. Bolingbrook's two losses were to Lincoln-Way East and H-F . The Raiders showed they can play with elite-level programs.

13. Minooka 8-0 (13)
Last Week: Beat West Aurora, 27-13
This Week: @ Oswego
EDGY's Take: It'll be another battle of undefeateds when Minooka clashes with Oswego. The Southwest Prairie West conference title hangs in the balance. 

14. Oswego 8-0 (14)
Last Week: Beat Yorkville, 28-20
This Week: vs Minooka
EDGY's Take: Oswego will seek to win its 9th straight Southwest Prairie conference title. 

15. Maine South 6-2 (15)
Last Week: Beat Glenbrook South, 28-13
This Week: @ New Trier
EDGY's Take: The Hawks always get up for rival New Trier. The Trevians will be fighting for their playoff lives.

16. Batavia 6-2 (17)
Last Week: Beat St. Charles North, 27-26
This Week: vs Wheaton North
EDGY's Take: The Bulldogs always seem to find secure wins after trailing. RB Art Taylor carried the load in the victory. How long will it take for RB/LB Quinn Urwlier to return?

17. Hillcrest 7-1 (18)
Last Week: Beat Lemont, 32-26
This Week: vs T.F. North
EDGY's Take: RB Mar'Kiese Irving carried the Hawks to an impressive road win. Look for Hillcrest to be a very dangerous team to watch in Class 5A. 

18. Willowbrook 7-1 (19)
Last Week: Beat Morton, 44-0
This Week: vs Proviso East
EDGY's Take: The Warriors get a nice Week 9 test when upstart Proviso East comes calling with the West Suburban Gold title up for grabs.

19. Huntley 7-1 (20)
Last Week: Beat Burlington Central, 63-13
This Week: @ Dundee-Crown
EDGY's Take: The Red Raiders defensive line continues to draw rave reviews from fans and observers across the Fox Valley.

20. Montini 6-2 (21)
Last Week: Beat De La Salle, 42-0
This Week: vs Providence Catholic
EDGY's Take: The Broncos will look to secure a higher playoff seed with. A win on Friday against a strong Providence Catholic would go a long way.

21. Prairie Ridge 7-1 (NR)
Last Week: Beat Cary-Grove, 42-7
This Week: vs Crystal Lake South
EDGY's Take: The Wolves have all the ingredients to make a very deep run in Class 6A.

22. Fremd 6-2 (22)
Last Week: Beat Conant, 20-12
This Week: vs Hoffman Estates
EDGY's Take: The Vikings just find a way. They secured the Mid-Suburban West conference title in their victory over the Cougars.

23. Crete-Monee 8-0 (23)
Last Week: Beat Bloom, 56-6
This Week: vs Thornridge
EDGY's Take: The Warriors got another huge game from senior QB Trayvon Rudolph in the win over Bloom.

24. St. Charles East 6-2 (16)
Last Week: Lost to Wheaton North, 24-19
This Week: @ Lake Park
EDGY's Take: The Saints look to rebound this week after the loss to Wheaton North on Friday.

25. Rolling Meadows 8-0 (NR)
Last Week: Beat Wheeling, 63-14
This Week: @ Hersey
EDGY's Take: The Mustangs have received a huge season from Ball State verbal commit OL/DL Nate Pedraza.