Blackhawks

Kings can learn from the Blackhawks' past

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Kings can learn from the Blackhawks' past

After a mid-season coaching change, being named the worst offensive team in the league, and suffering from a slump of not being able to score over two goals in a game, the Kings have discovered their team chemistry that was almost non-existant throughout the regular season and will now face either the Rangers or Devils in the Stanley Cup finals.

The Kings have an 12-2 overall postseason record and are 8-0 on the road, making them look close to unstoppable as they fight for their first Cup. They haven't been to the finals since 1993 when they fell to the Canadians 4-1.

But despite all their momentum and power on the ice, the odds aren't in their favor. In fact, other than the Edmonton Oilers back in the late 80s, no other team with a 12-2 record has gone on to win the Cup, including the Blackhawks.

Back in 1992, Chicago finished in second place in the Norris Division with a 36-29-15 record, earning 87 points in 80 games during the regular season.

While competing in the playoffs, they defeated the Blues in six games and swept both the Red Wings and Oilers, also earning themselves a 12-2 record. Even though they looked promising and had strong momentum, they were swept by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Stanley Cup finals.

The same statistics in the first three rounds of the playoffs also led to defeat for the 1995 Red Wings, 2003 Ducks, and 2008 Penguins. The only team to defy those surprising odds were the Oilers in 1987 and 1988.

Now the Kings are playing the waiting game to find out if they'll be facing New York or New Jersey. The Devils currently lead the Eastern Conference finals 3-2, and when looking at the statistics above, they could be the more difficult opponent for Los Angeles. Both the 1995 Wings and 2003 Ducks lost to New Jersey when entering the finals with a 12-2 record, so for Western Conference fans who fear history repeating itself, it would make the most sense to cheer for the Rangers at this point.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Reacting to Round 1 of NHL Draft

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Reacting to Round 1 of NHL Draft

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle and Charlie Roumeliotis recap Round 1 of the 2018 NHL Draft.

They discuss the pair of puck-carrying defensemen that the Blackhawks selected on Friday, Adam Boqvist and Nicolas Beaudin. When can we expect to see these first-round picks play in the NHL?

Boyle also goes 1-on-1 with Boqvist and Beaudin. The guys spoke with Stan Bowman and Joel Quenneville on Friday.

The guys also share their biggest takeaways from those interviews, which includes your daily Corey Crawford update and Quenneville appeared excited that the team has plenty of cap space to spend in free agency.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

It's only one start, but that's the Lucas Giolito that White Sox fans expected to see this season

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USA TODAY

It's only one start, but that's the Lucas Giolito that White Sox fans expected to see this season

The preseason expectations and the results have been drastically different for Lucas Giolito.

Expected to be the best pitcher on the White Sox starting staff, Giolito hasn’t come too close to that title, instead heading into Friday’s doubleheader with the most earned runs allowed of any pitcher in baseball. His walk total has been among the highest in the game all year long, too. And the calls from social media to send him down to Triple-A haven’t been at all infrequent.

But Friday, White Sox fans got a glimpse at what they expected, a look at the guy who earned so much hype with a strong September last season and a dominant spring training.

It wasn’t a performance that would make any reasonable baseball person’s jaw drop. But it was the best Giolito has looked this season. He still allowed four runs on seven hits — as mentioned, not a Cy Young type outing — but he struck out a season-high eight batters. Prior to giving up the back-to-back singles to start the eighth inning that brought an end to his evening, he’d surrendered just two runs.

Most importantly he walked just two guys and didn’t seem to struggle with his command at all. That’s a big deal for a pitcher who had 45 walks to his name prior to Friday.

“You know it was a tough eighth inning, but throughout the whole game, I felt in sync,” Giolito said. “(Catcher Omar Narvaez) and I were working really well, finally commanding the fastball the way I should. Definitely the best I felt out there this year, for sure. Velocity was up a tick. Just felt right, felt in sync. Just competed from there.”

Confidence has never left Giolito throughout the poor results, and he’s talked after every start about getting back on the horse and giving it another try. Consistently working in between starts, things finally seemed to click Friday night.

“It all worked today,” manager Rick Renteria said. “(Pitching coach Don Cooper) says that every bullpen has gotten better, from the beginning to this point. He sees progress. The velocity that he showed today was something that Coop was seeing in his work. You can see that his delivery is continuing to improve. He was trusting himself, really attacking the strike zone, trusted his breaking ball today when he need to and just tried to command as much as he could. Did a nice job.”

Giolito went through this kind of thing last year, when he started off poorly at Triple-A Charlotte with a 5.40 ERA through his first 16 starts. But then things got better, with Giolito posting a 2.78 ERA over his final eight starts with the Knights before getting called up to the big leagues.

This was just one start, of course, but perhaps he can follow a similar formula this year, too, going from a rough beginning to figuring things out.

“I’m not trying to tinker or think about mechanics anymore,” he said. “It’s about flow, getting out there and making pitches. We were able to do that for the most part.

“I’ll watch video and see certain things, and I have little cues here and there. But I’m not going to go and overanalyze things and nitpick at certain stuff anymore. It’s about going there and having fun and competing.”

Maybe that’s the secret. Or maybe this is simply a brief flash of brilliance in the middle of a tough first full season in the bigs.

Whatever it was, it was the best we’ve seen of Giolito during the 2018 campaign. And it was far more like what was expected back before that campaign got going.