Blackhawks

Fire look to end struggles against sliding Colorado

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Fire look to end struggles against sliding Colorado

Friday, April 29, 2011Posted: 6:56 p.m.

By Dieter Kurtenbach
CSNChicago.com

These are desperate times for the Chicago Fire. And desperate times draw other desperate teams.

Saturdays matchup against the Colorado Rapids will bring together two teams in the pits of tough stretches. Colorado, loser of three straight games, is eager to prove that it still has the form of an MLS Cup winner. The Fire, winless in its last four games, are looking to show that its hot start to the season was not a mirage.

We need it both teams. Chicago Fire head coach Carlos de los Cobos said in a rare blunt statement after training Thursday.

The Fire has already beaten the Rapids in 2011 with a 2-1 U.S. Open Cup win in Peoria. But with Chicago using mostly first-team players and Colorado not dressing their top squad in the loss, Fire defender Dasan Robinson doesnt read too much into the teams previous matchup.

You cant take too much from the Open Cup game, Robinson said. Maybe they have a little something against us because we won that game... You have to know in knowing its going to be a fight. Theyre the defending champions, for them to lose three in a row, its kind of like oh, whats going on.

The lineups will likely be different again on Saturday. Both teams have been rattled by injuries and have struggled to create winning lineups in the absence of key players.

The Fire will be without captain Logan Pause and veteran defender Cory Gibbs on Saturday. Colorado is hoping that forward Conor Casey, who is questionable for the game with a left hamstring sprain, will be able to go, reuniting one of the top striking duos in MLS.

Caseys regular partner in crime, Omar Cummings, has struggled without Casey in the lineup, going goalless in his past three games, all Colorado losses. Chicago is hoping that Casey remains out of the lineup, as it would only help Cummings, who has five career goals in four games against the Fire.

I dont think its a matter of trying to shut them down, its a matter of kind of containing Cummings and Casey, Robinson said. You know what theyre capable of, you know what their strengths are. You just have to do your best to try to limit those chances that they get. We know what were strong at.

Despite the lack of positive results, morale is high amongst the Fire, who ended its final training session with a penalty shootout in the mud. De los Cobos said that he is trying to keep a positive attitude in the locker room, but hes not putting as much focus on spirit with the winless streak.

The attitude is not everything in life, de los Cobos said. Attitude is part of this is. Sure, we need to have a very good attitude its important, but its not all. You need to want, and you need to can do it.

The Fire will find out if they have that can on Saturday. First kick in Commerce City, Colorado is set for 8 p.m. Central.

Corey Crawford expects to make season debut for Blackhawks on Thursday vs. Arizona

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USA TODAY

Corey Crawford expects to make season debut for Blackhawks on Thursday vs. Arizona

The wait is almost over.

After missing nearly 10 months with a concussion, Corey Crawford said he expects to start on Thursday when the Blackhawks take on the Arizona Coyotes at the United Center. An official decision will come following the team's morning skate.

"It feels good to be back to myself," Crawford said. "I'm feeling good, I'm feeling clear. ... It was a pretty long process. But I think the most important thing was not to rush anything. When I finally was out, it got to a point where I wasn’t in shape to play and it was time to rest and it’s unfortunate it took a lot longer than I would’ve liked. 

"It’s been long, but finally, just to get back and be practicing with the team has meant a lot. It’s good to get to this point now when you’re really close to playing. Practices have been great, been getting timing a little bit more and getting up to speed and reading shots and all that, so it'll be nice to finally get in one."

Crawford's last appearance in an NHL game was Dec. 23, 2017 against the New Jersey Devils when he allowed three goals on seven shots in 13:22 of action before getting pulled. So of course, emotions will naturally be running high, especially in front of the hometown crowd.

"I'm sure I'll be a little anxious getting into it," Crawford said. "Some nerves. But we'll see. We'll wait until the morning, but I'm definitely excited I can tell you that."

It's obviously terrific news for the Blackhawks, who have picked up eight out of a possible 10 points to start the season and are getting their two-time Stanley Cup winning goalie back between the pipes. It's been a long time coming, and Crawford is coming back into a healthy situation where the Blackhawks are in a good spot in the standings.

"It's great news, I'm sure it'll be exciting for him exciting for our team, exciting for our fans and the organization as well," Patrick Kane said. "It’s probably a good situation all around. Cam [Ward] has done a great job of playing in the net so far. Crow is really good in practice right now, so I’m sure he’s itching to get back, too. We’ve had a good start here. It’s something we want to keep going, and I’m sure him coming back on home ice, in front of our crowd, will be a fun one for him and for our team."

There's no doubting how important Crawford is the team and organization. While there may be a little bit of rust early on, the Blackhawks are expecting him to look like his old self.

"He means a lot to the team," Quenneville said. "We felt last year was a good example of how important he was and how well he was playing for us, as well. We’ve gotten off to a decent start and he was a big factor in it. We know that goaltending is such a big part of the team and your success a lot of nights depends on him and his consistency’s always been in place.

"But he looks good in the net. He’s been off for a long, long time. Is there rust? Do we expect rust? I think the way he’s competing and practicing and finding pucks, he looks like he hasn’t missed a beat. So we’re looking forward to him getting in there and getting comfortable and how he’s feeling going forward will dictate a lot of the decisions about him going back in."

Bill Belichick scoffs at Khalil Mack-Lawrence Taylor comparison

Bill Belichick scoffs at Khalil Mack-Lawrence Taylor comparison

All of the good graces Bill Belichick may have won on Tuesday afternoon -- when he compared the Bears' offense to Kansas City's -- are officially gone. 

Today, when talking to reporters, a Khalil Mack-Lawrence Taylor comparison came up. Belichick, who coached LT as the New York Giants’ defensive coordinator in the 1980s, was NOT having it: 

"Wait a minute, we’re talking about Lawrence Taylor now. I’m not putting anybody in (LT’s) class. Put everybody down below that. With a lot of respect to a lot of good players, we’re talking about Lawrence Taylor."

A bit harsh, Bill. 

For what it's worth, here's Khalil Mack's 2018 projection, assuming his latest ankle injury doesn't make him miss time: 

20 sacks, four interceptions, 16 forced fumbles, 4 fumble recoveries

That's .5 sacks less and four INTS, 16 FFs and 4 recoveries more than LT had in his 1986 MVP season. And yeah, maybe "they didn't record tackles/fumbles in 1986" and "16 forced fumbles would not only blow the current record (10) out of the water but is just plain unrealistic" but whatever, we're just sayin'. 

UPDATE: shocker, LT agrees: