Blackhawks

High School Lites Preview

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High School Lites Preview

Comcast SportsNet is your go-to place for prep basketball highlights in Chicagoland. Fridays High School Lites feast will feature conference battles on the north shore and profile some up-and-coming teams in the western suburbs.

Who will gain momentum on the eve of the holiday tournament season? Here is a snapshot of each game Comcast SportsNet will be covering this week on High School Lites. All rankings reflect the CSN Top 20:

THURSDAY GAMES

Girls: Bolingbrook (4-0) @ Lockport (2-6), 6:30 p.m.

Ariel Massengale is at Tennessee now, but forward Morgan Tuck and a talented group of Raiders remain. Tuck led all scorers with 18 points as Bolingbrook defeated Sandburg 56-25 Tuesday night. It's a challenging week for Taylor Quain and the Porters. They are facing two of the toughest teams in Chicagoland: Homewood-Flossmoor (69-45 loss on Tuesday) and now Bolingbrook.

Girls: Metea Valley (4-6) @ Waubonsie Valley (7-1), 7:15 p.m.

Waubonsie Valley's team might be a little more focused -- and a little more careful -- come Thursday night. The Warriors committed 21 turnovers in a 65-47 loss to Bartlett Tuesday. Becky Wilford paced the WV attack with 13 points. Metea Valley, who is starting to show a little more consistency after an 0-3 start, gets good contributions from Bria Walker, Anna Petersen and Megan Geldernick.

FRIDAY GAMES

Farragut (4-3) @ Westinghouse (6-2), 4:00 p.m.

If Westinghouse is to have any chance of winning Friday, they have to contain Farraguts Rashaun Stimage. The senior center was unstoppable Wednesday against Manley, racking up 27 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks in the Admirals 93-37 victory. Westinghouse also comes in on a high note, after defeating Raby 72-54 Wednesday night. They also have a showdown with Whitney Young on Monday.

No. 9 New Trier (7-1) @ Waukegan (3-4) 7:30 p.m.

The Trevians have more than just Dartmouth-bound forward Connor Boehm. Guards Austin Angel, Reid Berman and David Braigel have New Trier off and running this season. Its always a battle when these Central Suburban South foes meet and this year figures to be no different. The Bulldogs have a talented guard in Akeem Springs and an up-and-coming forward in sophomore Jerome Davis. Theyre looking to bounce back from a Wednesday upset at the hands of Grayslake Central.

No. 16 West Aurora (5-1) @ Glenbard North (3-2), 7:30 p.m.
The top spot in the DuPage Valley conference doesn't have a runaway favorite this year. West Aurora and Glenbard North figure to be among the teams in the upper tier of the division. This game figures to be a nice showcase of forwards, Juwan Starks for West and Josh Fleming for North. The Blackhawks are riding high off a 71-59 win over Naperville Central, while the Panthers turned a few heads with a 59-55 victory over rival Glenbard East last Friday in Lombard.

St. Charles East (5-2) @ No. 17 Elgin (7-1), 7:30 p.m.

Could we have another Fab Four lurking? Arie Williams, Dennis Moore, Cortez Scott, Devin Gilliam and Kory Brown are the foursome that have kept the Maroons rolling all season. Each one of them scored in double-figures Tuesday night as Elgin beat Burlington Central 73-41. St. Charles East should cause a few more problems. They looked impressive in their last contest, a 56-43 decision over Geneva. They have Purdue recruit Kendall Stephens and an improving supporting cast.
No. 3 Proviso East (7-0) @ Hinsdale South (3-4), 7:30 p.m.

The Hornets got a much-needed win Tuesday night against Argo, winning 64-51. Their attack revolves around guard Phil George and center Brock Benson (both scored in double-figures in the win over the Argonauts). Can they hang with the Proviso East? St. Louis-bound Keith Carter, Sterling Brown and the rest of the third-ranked team, CSNs Muscle Milk Team of the Week, figure to be one of the states elite.
Willowbrook (1-5) @ No. 6 Downers Grove South (6-1), 7:30 p.m.

If the No. 6 Mustangs are to keep pace with the Proviso Easts and the Mortons in the West Suburban gold conference, they need to take care of league games like this on their home court. Senior guard Jerron Wilbut is coming off a 20-point performance last Friday in a win against Morton in Cicero. The Warriors will try to get back on the winning track; Fridays game represents the first in a three-game-in-five-night stretch.
Lake Forest (3-4) @ No. 4 Warren (6-1), 7:30 p.m.

If the fourth-ranked Blue Devils are to send retiring head coach Chuck Ramsey out in style, this figures to be the perfect year to do so. Warren is stacked this year, with seniors Nathan Boothe (C) and forward Darius Paul (F) at the controls. Warren is coming off a 61-45 win over Mundelein. Lake Forest has an interesting story in freshman Evan Boudreaux, who is playing on the varsity level for the Scouts. He scored 13 points in a losing effort Saturday against Zion-Benton.

Every Friday night at 10:30, High School Lites will bring you scores and highlights from the Chicagoland basketball courts. We'll also have in-depth feature stories and take a look back down Memory Lane in our Flashback segment. This week, be sure to check out CSN's Muscle Milk Team of the Week, the Proviso East Pirates. Well tell you why two of the famed Three Amigos are helping lead the boys from Maywood to a possible trip to Peoria in March (and no, were not talking about Chevy Chase, Martin Short or Steve Martin).

High School Lites streams live every Friday on CSNChicago.com. Its also where you can find: Drive 2011, the story of the Simeon Wolverines. This weeks journey takes us to Wednesdays tilt against Carver High School.

We invite you to share your story ideas as well by leaving comments at the bottom of this story. Also, please note that this weeks show will appear after our BlackhawksDucks coverage and SportsNet Central.

2019 NHL free agent focus: Five potential targets for Blackhawks

2019 NHL free agent focus: Five potential targets for Blackhawks

Stan Bowman has had a busy last couple weeks. He pulled off a pair of trades, landing defensemen Olli Maatta and Calvin de Haan from the Eastern Conference. He drafted center Kirby Dach with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft that could turn into a franchise-changing player. And now he’s in the middle of negotiations with pending restricted and unrestricted free agents.

With the defensemen group starting to take shape, it appears free agency will be used to fill out the forward group. That could come via trades, also, but it really depends on the market.

So let’s identify five potential UFA targets for the Blackhawks ahead of Monday, when players are officially able to sign contracts:

1. Ryan Dzingel, LW

When Dzingel was with the Ottawa Senators, he was playing top-six minutes and earning power-play time because the Senators weren’t very deep. After getting traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets at the deadline, he struggled to be a fit there, didn't play much on the power play and was healthy scratched for one game in the playoffs.

But he still has value, although it may not be in an area that the Blackhawks need (penalty kill).

Dzingel, a Wheaton native, set a career high in goals (26), assists (30) and points (56) in 78 games this past season with the Senators and Blue Jackets. He can play in the top-six but might be more effective as a middle-six winger on a good team.

According to Evolving Wild, Dzingel is projected to earn a contract of four years with a $4.25 million cap hit. 

2. Anders Lee, LW

It’s a little surprising that the New York Islanders and their captain haven’t made any progress on a long-term extension. At the same time, it’s pretty clear that Lou Lamoriello is looking to make a big splash this summer in his pursuit of Sergei Bobrovsky and Artemi Panarin, and needs financial flexibility to negotiate.

Lee is a perfect complementary top-six left winger who would look great next to Jonathan Toews or opposite Patrick Kane. He’s got size at 6-foot-3, 231 pounds, is reliable, scored 40 goals in 2017-18 and has a strong work ethic. Those qualities check a lot of boxes the Blackhawks are looking for.

Where it gets tricky is what his contract may look like. He's projected to receive in the range of a seven-year deal that carries a $6.5 million cap hit. The dollar amount is doable, but the term could scare the Blackhawks away as they prepare to sign Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Strome to long-term extensions next summer.

3. Gustav Nyquist, LW

The Blackhawks have been interested in Nyquist's services in the past, so they'll certainly look into him as a possibility now that he hits the open market.

Nyquist has scored at least 20 goals in four of his past six seasons, with 28 being his career high. But he's not known to be a goal scorer. He's a pass-first, playmaking-type winger and makes players around him better because of it. Nyquist is a consistent 45-55-point player.

His next contract is projected to be in the six-year, $5.6 million range, which — like Lee — is a fair dollar amount but the term may not be something the Blackhawks are crazy about. Bowman appears to be focused on free-agent forwards who can be signed on shorter-term deals.

4. Joe Pavelski, C/RW

Perhaps the most intriguing player on the free-agent market for the Blackhawks is Pavelski, who’s served as the San Jose Sharks captain but may not fit into their plans going forward because of their cap crunch.

Yes, he will turn 35 in July. And yes, he has a ton of mileage on his body. But he’s showing no signs of slowing down. 

Pavelski is a five-time 30-goal scorer who’s coming off a 38-goal season, can play both center and wing, and is an absolute gamer, a leader on and off the ice who shows up when the lights are shining brightest. He’s also not afraid to go to the dirty areas and is widely considered to be one of the best at deflecting pucks, which comes in handy on the power play.

What makes him an attractive piece is that Pavelski could be a player that makes an immediate impact but wouldn't require a long-term deal. He's projected to earn a three-year contract with a cap hit of $7.4 million. If the Blackhawks can get him at two years, that would be ideal. But like Patrick Marleau a few years ago in Toronto, his camp is probably looking for that third year.

5. Corey Perry, LW

Days after he was bought out by the Ducks, Perry’s name surfaced as a possibility for the Blackhawks. And it makes sense because the Blackhawks aren't looking to hand out long-term contracts.

Perry is 34 years old, a former Hart Trophy winner and 50-goal scorer, and is still a productive player when healthy. But that's the biggest concern. He missed 51 games this season with a knee injury, returned ahead of schedule and never looked the same on the ice.

Per the CBA, Perry can sign a one-year, bonus-laden deal and it appears that's what he'll do. A one-year contract in the $2-3 million with bonuses would be a low risk, high reward move for the Blackhawks.

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Adbert Alzolay makes some memories on an otherwise forgettable night for the Cubs

Adbert Alzolay makes some memories on an otherwise forgettable night for the Cubs

The Cubs lost an entirely forgettable game on Tuesday night, dropping the second of their four games against the NL East-leading Braves by a score of 3-2. They left four men on base, only managed four hits, ran into two outs, and made one error in a game that was over well in time for a Clark Street nightcap, or three. 

What was memorable about Tuesday night was the performance of Adbert Alzolay, the Cubs’ top pitching prospect who was making his first major league start. The final line: 4.2 innings pitched, one hit, one run, four walks and four strikeouts. It’s certainly not the prettiest line you’ll see in tomorrow’s box scores, but the 24 year old passed the eye test with flying colors. 

“Everything was good - he was outstanding,” Joe Maddon said after the game. “I just think he hit a well there at the end. We just have to get him more used to that. Listen, he’s been injured in the past, he’s coming back - you’ve got to be real sensitive to the number of pitches and workload you put on him, because you can see how good he’s going to be.”

Things got off to an inauspicious start for Alzolay, whose first pitch of the game was crushed 413 feet into the left field bleachers for a leadoff homer, courtesy of Braves’ outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. It would prove to be the only hit and run that Alzolay allowed on the night. 

“It’s just one pitch,” he said. “You have to keep working - the game continues. I was just starting the game, so if you lose your mind in that situation than you’re not going to last a lot of innings.

“Even after the home run, he came right back and said, ‘I’m fine’,” Maddon added. “Then he went up and got three really good hitters out. I liked the mound demeanor, we’ve just got to get him a little further along in regards to being stretched out.”

After coming out flat with his secondary pitches during his 4-inning relief appearance on June 20th, Alzolay flashed better command and execution of both his curveball and changeup. Half of his strikeouts came on the curveball - one to get left fielder Austin Riley in the 2nd and one to get Acuña in the 3rd. After throwing 13 changeups in his debut, Alzolay double that number on Tuesday (27). 

“I’m feeling really confident throwing the pitch in any count,” Alzolay said of his changeup. “Tonight I threw it a couple times when I was behind in the count and I got a good result after that, so I’ll just keep on throwing it.

“For us to get confident at something, you have to practice, you have to execute it, and you have to use it in the game,” said catcher Willson Contreras, who plated both of the Cubs’ two runs with a double in the 4th. “For him to be able to throw the changeup for a strike, and strikeout people, it’s really good - especially at his age.”

Maddon couldn’t answer when Alzolay would make his next start. With Kyle Hendricks eyeing a return around the All-Star break, there would seemingly be a few more opportunities ahead of the rookie. Given what he showed on Tuesday night, it’d be hard to argue against it.

"He can be really good in the big leagues," Contreras said. "He still needs to make adjustments like all of us, but with the confidence he has, the ability he has, and the way he prepares before the games, it's going to take him a long way."