Sunday, June 6, 2010
By Brett Ballantini
CHICAGO All indications are that significant line changes are due the Chicago Blackhawks when they hit the ice Sunday in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals against the Philadelphia Flyers.
Many moves that were anticipated as early as Game 4 seem to be on the horizon. Most prominent is the dissolution of the top line. Dustin Byfuglien has been an utter non-factor in the Finals so far, and coach Joel Quenneville will have to find a place to stash him where he can regain his footing and confidence, as on Friday he simply looked lost. The lone Blackhawks rallying point in the game, at minutes ticked short on the third period, came when phenoms Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane were split apart, so its a safe bet that Q will keep that mojo working and force Philly to find ways to defend the two talents separately.
On the defensive end, Brian Campbell has gotten better with every game played so far in the Finals, so expect him to continue to see increased minutes, perhaps at the expense of Niklas Hjalmarsson, who Quenneville acknowledge had a very rough start to Game 4.
On the Flyers side, why change a thing? Coach Peter Laviolette has pulled off the improbable feat of outfoxing Quenneville so far in the series, his minor tinkers trumping Chicagos consistent rolls.
Consistent until Game 5, that is. Quenneville has fought his own nature by bringing minimal change to the lineup in the first four games of the series. With the Finals reduced now to a best-of-three, the veteran mentor is faced with the coaching job of his life.
Brett Ballantini isCSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnikon Twitter for up-to-the-minute Hawksinformation.
Mitch Trubisky is a believer in the Chicago Bears new offense heading into 2018. He's been jacked up about coach Matt Nagy and his arsenal of new skill players all offseason, and on Thursday he gave reporters at Bears training camp an even greater description of what's to come.
"We're going to create our own identity and it's going to be something the Chicago Bears haven't seen for a while," he said.
That identity is expected to be something similar to what was seen in Kansas City last year when Nagy was calling plays. It was an offense that featured efficient quarterback play, the NFL's leading rusher, a high-flying playmaker at receiver and an All-Pro tight end.
Not bad at all.
But don't ask Trubisky about comparisons to other teams, or, more specifically, comparisons centered around him and other young quarterbacks in the NFL.
"I'm tired of it all," Trubisky said of being compared to Carson Wentz and Jared Goff. "All the doubts, all the comparisons, tired of waiting, and excited that camp is here and ready for year two. All I can do is control my attitude & effort.
"I know who I am. I know what kind of player I can be. And I know my role on the team. I'm looking forward to proving that."
The weight of a city and a lot of jobs in the front office are on Trubisky's shoulders. He has the mental makeup to handle it, but he also hasn't been tested like he has this offseason when whispers questioning his long-term potential have begun in far corners of football media.
Trubisky has been set up for success in 2018. He's in a quarterback-friendly system with receivers who can make him a star. He should have little trouble proving his doubters wrong and finally showing Bears fans what it means to cheer for a fun and exciting offense.
The good news about Allen Robinson continues to pour in.
This time, it's from Robinson himself, who declared Thursday at Chicago Bears training camp that he's 100 percent healthy and ready to go for practice, which gets underway Friday.
"I feel 100 percent. I'm ready to go," he said. "It was all about getting ready for this time right here."
Robinson, who GM Ryan Pace signed to a three-year, $42 million deal in free agency, said his responsibility is to make Mitch Trubisky's job easier.
"I want Mitch [Trubisky] to go out there and play free and it's my job to make his easy."
Robinson certainly made Blake Bortles' job easy in 2015 when he went off for 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns. It's that kind of elite production that has Trubisky very excited about what the duo can do in Chicago. If Robinson can have that much success with a player like Bortles, who isn't exactly known for his accuracy, he should thrive with Trubisky whose throws hit the mark more often than not.
Coach Matt Nagy said the Bears are starting training camp healthy and that no players are expected on the PUP list. That's great news all around, but mostly for Robinson, whose long road to recovery finally appears behind him.