From Comcast SportsNetLOS ANGELES (AP) -- The Chicago Blackhawks raised their own Stanley Cup championship banner just two seasons ago, so their core players already know it's tough to go back to work after a pregame party.When the Los Angeles Kings were finished raising their banner and receiving their rings Saturday, the Blackhawks reminded the champs that what happened last year won't help the Kings in this shortened NHL season.Marian Hossa had two goals and an assist, Corey Crawford made 19 saves, and Chicago crashed the Kings' Stanley Cup celebration with a 5-2 victory.Captain Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane each had a goal and an assist for the Blackhawks, who jumped to a 3-0 lead on Michael Frolik's goal less than 15 minutes in.With superior speed and skill, Chicago ruined the festivities shortly after the Kings hung their first championship banner in the Staples Center rafters."We wanted to have a good start, and whether they were going to be on their game or not didn't really matter to us," said Toews, the Conn Smythe Trophy-winning hero of Chicago's 2010 title run."We tried not to focus on what was going on out there before the game. We were in (the locker room), just getting ready and doing our thing. We had a great first period, and when you come out in the first 20 minutes like that, you want to keep it going, and that's what we did."With every player who touched the ice in last season's playoffs returning to defend the title, the Kings received their championship rings during a stirring pregame ceremony that included each player passing the Cup around the boards. The Blackhawks didn't watch it, but they seemed fired up from the opening faceoff."The season after you win the Cup, everyone is going to play their best game against the Cup champion, because that's the game where you want to prove yourselves and make a statement," said Kane, whose 5-on-3 goal started the rout. "So I think that's what we were kind of feeling today."Rob Scuderi and Jordan Nolan scored and Jonathan Quick stopped 17 shots for the Kings, who are definitely done celebrating last season's achievements as the first eighth-seeded playoff team to win the Stanley Cup.Quick gave up five goals just once last season while making his first All-Star team, but he wasn't much better than his teammates in his first game since winning the Conn Smythe Trophy and getting a 10-year, 58 million contract extension."You have to get used to getting knocked down and getting back up," Quick said. "As the ceremony was going on, most of our guys were thinking about the game, but obviously you're going to take a moment, and it's a special moment for the team and fans."While the Kings learned they've got work to do, the Blackhawks showed why they've got a shot at repeating their 2010 championship run. Kane seemed particularly sharp after spending the lockout playing in Switzerland.Hossa was the Blackhawks' leading scorer last season, but he left his final game on a stretcher after a hit by Phoenix's Raffi Torres, who got a 25-game suspension. The lockout was a benefit to Hossa's recovery, and the 11-time 25-goal scorer is off to another big start."I haven't played in a long time because of the concussion, so I tried to keep it simple, especially at the beginning," Hossa said. "Nothing too fancy. They gave me short shifts and I tried to get into it. Obviously my timing is not there yet, but it's going to come with the more games we play. My head is clear, otherwise I wouldn't be playing if there were still some issues."Los Angeles began the season without two key players: Leading scorer Anze Kopitar, who hurt his knee while playing in Sweden, and defenseman Willie Mitchell, who had knee surgery.Both players wore their uniforms and skates while participating in the pregame ceremony, but the Kings' good pregame feelings got erased about two minutes in when Matt Greene and Trevor Lewis went to the penalty box 43 seconds apart. Los Angeles killed most of the 5-on-3, but Kane scored with 8 seconds left in the advantage.Hossa, who set up Kane's goal, then got credit for a score when his centering pass hit Drew Doughty's skate and ricocheted past Quick. Just 74 seconds after that, Frolik put a pall over the celebratory crowd with the Blackhawks' third goal on eight shots.When Toews, who spent the week ailing with a cold, alertly scored 1:16 into the second period, a few scattered boos came down from the sellout crowd. The Kings' defense appeared to miss Mitchell, while Kopitar's absence has forced coach Darryl Sutter to shuffle the lines that worked so splendidly in last season's playoffs."I think most people expected to be a little rusty, and both teams were," said Scuderi, who scored midway through the second period. "We made a few mistakes, but we're not taking it as an excuse."NOTES:Scuderi matched his entire goal total from 82 games last season. ... Chicago scratched veteran RW Jamal Mayers and new D Michal Roszival. ... Los Angeles scratched new RW Anthony Stewart after acquiring him from Carolina earlier in the week.
It should come as no surprise, but even with the White Sox working through “the hardest part of the rebuild,” watching a couple young players struggle and owning the worst record in baseball, Jose Abreu has been his typically excellent self.
Abreu’s production is easy to take for granted because he’s been so unbelievably consistent at the plate during the entirety of his time in a White Sox uniform. After becoming the third player ever to hit 25 home runs and drive in 100 runs in each of his first four major league seasons — joining the amazing company of Joe DiMaggio and Albert Pujols — he’s well on his way to another one of those campaigns in 2018, even as the team around him experiences growing pains in this developmental season.
Abreu entered Sunday’s series finale with the Texas Rangers with a .306/.374/.531 slash line, and if the season ended today, those first two numbers would be the highest in their respective categories since his Rookie of the Year season in 2014. He leads the team in batting average and on-base percentage and ranks second in home runs, RBIs and slugging percentage.
It’s what the White Sox and their fans have come to expect from Abreu, who could be on his way to his first All-Star appearance since his rookie year.
“I think he’s just a mentally strong individual,” manager Rick Renteria said. “His routines are the same. He’s consistent. He doesn’t get too high, he doesn’t get too low. I think he personifies a man that understands the complexity of the length of a major league season and doesn’t allow little valleys and or highs to affect him too much. He knows that they come and go.
“As long as he continues to do what he does on a daily basis to get ready for a ballgame, he knows that when it’s all said and done it all levels out and he’ll be able to produce and give you opportunities to score some runs.”
Despite advancing age and a decision coming on Abreu’s contract, there’s little mystery as to why the White Sox would want to keep him around through the period when the rebuild reaches its apex and the contention window opens on the South Side. The numbers he puts up on an annual basis would keep him a middle-of-the-order bat, even in a lineup that featured Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert and Micker Adolfo, not to mention the guy who’s locker is right next to Abreu’s, Yoan Moncada.
And that’s another big reason the White Sox would love to keep Abreu on the roster. He’s a key figure in the clubhouse, a mentor to Moncada, his fellow Cuban, and a leader for many of the team’s young players. Having Abreu around as an example to these young guys coming up would be invaluable in helping the White Sox develop their organizational identity.
“I think he’s got enough time in here and he’s had enough success and based on the way he carries himself in the clubhouse and his daily work, I think people watch him by example and as he’s been here for a while I think he’s able to communicate with a lot of the guys,” Renteria said. “I think they trust him. I think it’s one of those things that just evolves. I think he’s been evolving into that type of leader. He’s a quiet leader, but when he has something to say, everybody listens.”
Abreu might not be a loud, vocal force like Yolmer Sanchez is inside and outside the clubhouse, but his comments about the young team around him and the rebuilding season show his outlook and his status as a veteran leader of this group.
“I think everybody knows and understands the process that we’re passing through,” Abreu said through a translator after Saturday’s win, in which he homered and extended his hit streak to 10 games, “but when you can win games like tonight it’s huge because you are letting them know, the young guys, how it is to win games and how it is to compete and to play good baseball and to have confidence with the things that you’re doing. It’s good, every victory, every win is good for us. It doesn’t matter how the score is, every game that we can win is good, it’s huge for us.
“Ricky is giving them the opportunity to play and to show that they can do and the confidence for them to show their talent. We are all excited to see what they can do and how they can help us. I think that we all belong at this level, and for us it’s an exciting moment for what all these young guys can offer.
“They all like to work. They all like to prepare, like to do their job, to show on the field what they are capable of, and I think that for me that’s something that let’s me know that they are trying to do their best, and they are trying to stay here and to help this team win games. That’s also what the front office is taking from them too, when you see the guys who are doing all the things that they ask for, and then sometimes they’re gonna rough days, but when you see that effort, you’re very glad and you’re happy because everybody is trying to do their best.”
The White Sox will have to make a decision on Abreu eventually, as he’s only under team control for one more season after the current one. But he’s voiced a desire to stay on the South Side, and it’s easy for the White Sox to forecast what they’ll get from Abreu, even as he continues to get older.
This guy’s as consistent as they come, on and off the field.
Here's your daily update on what the White Sox highly touted prospects are doing in the minor leagues.
Eloy Jimenez had four hits, including a pair of doubles to boost his batting average to .322 on the season. Seby Zavala hit his 10th home run of the season and drove in a pair of runs in the 7-2 loss. Spencer Adams got the start and allowed four runs but also struck out nine in just 4.2 innings of work.
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Luis Gonzalez had two doubles and Evan Skoug had two hits in a 3-2 win. Big leaguer Carlos Rodon made a rehab start and struck out six, allowing one run in five innings.
Charlie Tilson had a hit and Thyago Vieira threw a scoreless inning in an 8-4 loss.