White Sox

Hawks - Coyotes first-round expectations

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Hawks - Coyotes first-round expectations

The Chicago Blackhawks and Phoenix Coyotes first-round matchup doesnt elicit the storylines of some of the Hawks recent postseason series. Its missing the animosity that comes with the Vancouver draw. Theres no goalie then-and-now comparison that you get with San Jose. And theres no deep history, as there would be if the Hawks wouldve played Detroit.

But hey, the playoffs are all about creating those stories, those subplots Blackhawks-Canucks was a big bag of who cares four seasons ago. So while we wait to see what this series brings, lets look at what each team brings:
Follow the leader

The Coyotes have been looking up to their reliable captain since 2003. The Blackhawks, in the wake of their captains injury, have looked to another for leadership.

Shane Doan is the prototype captain, a dependable player who has been with the WinnipegPhoenix franchise his entire professional career. Doan has long put up the points he has 318 goals and 470 points for a career 788 points. And this season, Doan finally got his first career hat trick.

Patrick Kane doesnt have the 'C' on his sweater, but in Jonathan Toews absence Kane has taken part of that role. Kane has been impressive as the Blackhawks No. 1 center, and his play and leadership down the stretch is a big reason the Blackhawks have surged again this spring

Thorn in opponents side

Which of the Blackhawks has been the Coyotes biggest headache? And vice-versa? The answers to each are wily veterans who are a combined 77 years old: left wings Andrew Brunette and Ray Whitney. Brunette has 42 career points against the Coyotes (14 goals and 28 assists). The 38-year-old was hampered by a foot injury as the regular season ended. But coach Joel Quenneville said Brunette, who was part of a successful top line with Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa, should be ready for the playoffs.

For Phoenix, the 39-year-old Whitney has been stellar against Chicago, with 39 career points (12 goals, 27 assists). Whitney played all 82 games this season and put up some of his best career numbers during it. His 24 goals, 53 assists (77 points) are exactly the same as his 2008-09 numbers with the Carolina Hurricanes.

Goaltenders

Corey Crawford has gone through his ups and downs this season, and once again there was talk of a goaltending controversy. Would the backup become the No. 1 guy for the third consecutive season? But as the Blackhawks got closer to the playoffs, Crawford got closer to the form he had last spring. Since coming in relief and pulling out a shootout victory against the St. Louis Blues on March 13, Crawford has gone 8-1-2.

Mike Smith has gone through a renaissance with the Coyotes. Seemingly finished when he languished in the Tampa Bay minor-league system last season, Smith is now among the leagues best goaltenders and should be a Vezina Trophy candidate. The 6-foot-4, 218-pound Smith has turned it on entering the postseason, allowing just two goals in his last five games (190 saves on 192 shots).
Knowing coaches

Joel Quenneville and Phoenix coach Dave Tippett are both familiar with each other. The two are longtime friends, and in their playing days were teammates in both Hartford and Washington. Theyve also carved their successful coaching niches. Quenneville has the most victories among NHL coaches (624) and two Stanley Cups, including one as an assistant with the Colorado Avalanche.

Tippett, who has 406 victories, has led the Coyotes to three consecutive playoff appearances and, on Saturday night, their first division title in franchise history. He also won the Jack Adams award in 2010.

Sports Talk Podcast: Is it time for Luis Robert to join the White Sox?

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USA TODAY

Sports Talk Podcast: Is it time for Luis Robert to join the White Sox?

David Haugh, Gabe Ramirez and Mark Carman join Kap on the panel.

0:00 - The White Sox suffer their 7th-straight loss so it looks like they will be sellers. Should the consider trading Jose Abreu at the deadline? And do they need to bring up Luis Robert or should they play the service time game?

13:50 - Yu Darvish has a second straight solid start at Wrigley. Is this the Yu we always expected? Plus Kap gives some ridiculous stats showing why Kris Bryant should be the permanent 3-hole hitter.

19:00 - Mai Tai Guy makes the media rounds and Carm defends him.

25:00 - Ryan McGuffey joins the panel to preview "Harold Baines: Welcome to Cooperstown" and discuss the state of the White Sox.

Listen to the full episode here or via the embedded player below:

ports Talk Live Podcast

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Jose Abreu says White Sox are missing key players, need reinforcements

Jose Abreu says White Sox are missing key players, need reinforcements

Jose Abreu is one of the leaders, if not the leader of the White Sox, so when he says something, it’s a fair guess to think it’s representative of a large chunk of the clubhouse.

After the White Sox lost to the Royals on Thursday, a loss which finished off a four-game sweep and extended the team’s losing streak to seven games, Abreu talked to reporters in Kansas City and sounded frustrated. He was asked about the importance of not having Tim Anderson and Eloy Jimenez, both on the IL, in the lineup.


Anderson took ground balls before the game on Thursday, which was the second straight game he had done so. He is likely nearing his return. Jimenez just went on the IL on Wednesday.

When Abreu was in Cleveland for the All-Star Game, he said he would “sign myself here” if the White Sox didn’t offer him a contract extension. For him to say something that can be interpreted as frustration towards the organization is notable. It’s also worth mentioning that this was said through a translator so it’s possible a subtlety was lost.

It’s not surprising to hear frustration in the middle of a seven-game winning streak for a team that appeared to be showing signs of improvement in the first half of the season. It’s also not surprising for Abreu to potentially be referencing his countryman Luis Robert.

Abreu helped recruit Robert to the White Sox when he was an international free agent leaving Cuba. Abreu and fellow Cuban Yoan Moncada were said to be part of the draw for Robert to sign with the White Sox.

The 21-year-old outfielder entered Thursday hitting .440/.500/.960 with three home runs in six games since getting promoted to Triple-A Charlotte. Despite his incredibly productive season which has led him to shoot up to No. 5 overall in MLB Pipeline’s prospect rankings, general manager Rick Hahn told reporters on Wednesday that they shouldn’t expect Robert to get called up this season though.


Meanwhile, the big league club is missing two key hitters and in the middle of a seven-game losing streak.

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