The day after: Toews feels great; lineup changes coming?


The day after: Toews feels great; lineup changes coming?

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Jonathan Toews felt great after his first game back and the Phoenix Coyotes may be without Radim Vrbata as the Blackawks and Coyotes prepared for Game 2 of their Western Conference quarterfinal series.

Toews took some hard knocks from the Coyotes in Game 1, his first game after missing the final 22 regular-season contests with a concussion. But the Blackhawks captain had a smile on his face and pronounced himself feeling good after that tough first game.

"I feel much better than last night," Toews said Friday, after participating in the Blackhawks' optional practice. "Last night was a tough one to jump into but I think that adrenaline, that excitement of playing in the playoffs, and even (playing) the first game in a long time, helps you power through it. Physically, the worst is over. I'm looking forward to playing my game and not thinking too much and letting things happen."

Meanwhile, the Coyotes are waiting to see how Vrbata, their top goal-scorer, is doing. Vrbata suffered an upper-body injury when Andrew Shaw hit him early in Thursday's game. Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said Vrbata was at the arena today and did work out. He is listed as day to day. Tippett wasn't sure today what the Coyotes' lines would be like if Vrbata can't play tomorrow night.

"Weve done some work here this morning and well keep monitoring what we think works for us and what might fall into place for us," he said. "We'll look at different matchups, scenarios that try to get you some rhythm in the game. Theres enough there we can grab onto, but I'm not sure where our lineups going to be tomorrow yet."

The Blackhawks could also have some lineup changes.

"Well look at some options," coach Joel Quenneville said. "We have five guys here who want to play as well, so well see."

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Reacting to Round 1 of NHL Draft


Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Reacting to Round 1 of NHL Draft

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle and Charlie Roumeliotis recap Round 1 of the 2018 NHL Draft.

They discuss the pair of puck-carrying defensemen that the Blackhawks selected on Friday, Adam Boqvist and Nicolas Beaudin. When can we expect to see these first-round picks play in the NHL?

Boyle also goes 1-on-1 with Boqvist and Beaudin. The guys spoke with Stan Bowman and Joel Quenneville on Friday.

The guys also share their biggest takeaways from those interviews, which includes your daily Corey Crawford update and Quenneville appeared excited that the team has plenty of cap space to spend in free agency.

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

It's only one start, but that's the Lucas Giolito that White Sox fans expected to see this season


It's only one start, but that's the Lucas Giolito that White Sox fans expected to see this season

The preseason expectations and the results have been drastically different for Lucas Giolito.

Expected to be the best pitcher on the White Sox starting staff, Giolito hasn’t come too close to that title, instead heading into Friday’s doubleheader with the most earned runs allowed of any pitcher in baseball. His walk total has been among the highest in the game all year long, too. And the calls from social media to send him down to Triple-A haven’t been at all infrequent.

But Friday, White Sox fans got a glimpse at what they expected, a look at the guy who earned so much hype with a strong September last season and a dominant spring training.

It wasn’t a performance that would make any reasonable baseball person’s jaw drop. But it was the best Giolito has looked this season. He still allowed four runs on seven hits — as mentioned, not a Cy Young type outing — but he struck out a season-high eight batters. Prior to giving up the back-to-back singles to start the eighth inning that brought an end to his evening, he’d surrendered just two runs.

Most importantly he walked just two guys and didn’t seem to struggle with his command at all. That’s a big deal for a pitcher who had 45 walks to his name prior to Friday.

“You know it was a tough eighth inning, but throughout the whole game, I felt in sync,” Giolito said. “(Catcher Omar Narvaez) and I were working really well, finally commanding the fastball the way I should. Definitely the best I felt out there this year, for sure. Velocity was up a tick. Just felt right, felt in sync. Just competed from there.”

Confidence has never left Giolito throughout the poor results, and he’s talked after every start about getting back on the horse and giving it another try. Consistently working in between starts, things finally seemed to click Friday night.

“It all worked today,” manager Rick Renteria said. “(Pitching coach Don Cooper) says that every bullpen has gotten better, from the beginning to this point. He sees progress. The velocity that he showed today was something that Coop was seeing in his work. You can see that his delivery is continuing to improve. He was trusting himself, really attacking the strike zone, trusted his breaking ball today when he need to and just tried to command as much as he could. Did a nice job.”

Giolito went through this kind of thing last year, when he started off poorly at Triple-A Charlotte with a 5.40 ERA through his first 16 starts. But then things got better, with Giolito posting a 2.78 ERA over his final eight starts with the Knights before getting called up to the big leagues.

This was just one start, of course, but perhaps he can follow a similar formula this year, too, going from a rough beginning to figuring things out.

“I’m not trying to tinker or think about mechanics anymore,” he said. “It’s about flow, getting out there and making pitches. We were able to do that for the most part.

“I’ll watch video and see certain things, and I have little cues here and there. But I’m not going to go and overanalyze things and nitpick at certain stuff anymore. It’s about going there and having fun and competing.”

Maybe that’s the secret. Or maybe this is simply a brief flash of brilliance in the middle of a tough first full season in the bigs.

Whatever it was, it was the best we’ve seen of Giolito during the 2018 campaign. And it was far more like what was expected back before that campaign got going.