Blackhawks

Pappa's hat trick propels Fire to victory

Pappa's hat trick propels Fire to victory

Wednesday, Sept 28, 2011Posted: 11:05 p.m.

Associated Press

Box Score

SANDY, UTAH (AP) Marco Pappa scored three goals to lift the Chicago Fire to a rare road victory with a 3-0 defeat of Real Salt Lake on Wednesday night.

A record setting crowd of 20,762 at Rio Tinto Stadium watched as Pappa brought Chicago (7-8-15) only its second road win of the season. The loss spoiled the return of midfielder Javier Morales, who entered the match as a sub in the 60th minute. It was the first action for Morales since suffering a gruesome ankle injury in May.

Things turned sour for Salt Lake (15-9-6) in a matter of a couple minutes early in the first half.

Chicago seized a quick 1-0 lead on a goal from Pappa in the 9th minute. The Fire midfielder volleyed a solid left-footer over the top of the RSL defense and zipped the ball past the shoulder of Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando.

RSL barely had a chance to regroup from the early goal when team captain Kyle Beckerman was shown a red card and ejected from the match in the 11th minute. Beckerman earned the ejection after a hard foul on Daniel Paladini and will also sit out his team's next match against the Los Angeles Galaxy on Saturday.

Salt Lake attacked furiously through the remainder of the first half, trying to erase the one-goal advantage. It nearly happened when Alvaro Saborio slipped behind Chicago's backline in the 28th minute and latched onto a through ball fed to him from Andy Williams. Saborio had an open shot, but he sent the ball wide of the left post to keep RSL scoreless.

No other potential goal materialized for Salt Lake before halftime. RSL was held without a shot on goal during the first half.

Pappa struck again in the 36th minute to make it 2-0 for the Fire. Pavel Pardo flicked it ahead to him on the right side of the penalty area and Pappa curled a shot inside the left post.

He finally completed his hat trick in the 75th minute when he put an unassisted goal inside the left post to give the Fire a 3-0 advantage.

Blackhawks looking for defensive improvement from everyone, not just defensemen

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks looking for defensive improvement from everyone, not just defensemen

The Blackhawks were able to get away with their defensive lapses in the past solely because of Corey Crawford. When he went down with a concussion last December, those issues were magnified because he wasn't there to mask the flaws.

But it's reached the point where they can't rely on their goaltender to bail them out on a nightly basis, which is becoming another trend. Cam Ward allowed six goals to Tampa Bay on Sunday night, but made 49 saves — including 30 in the second period alone. He did everything he could to keep his team withing some sort of reaching distance and without his timely stops, the scoreboard could've looked much worse for the Blackhawks.

Something's got to change. 

When the Blackhawks talk about tightening things up defensively, they're not just putting it all on the defensemen. All five guys on the ice need to do their part and they're not doing it right now.

"I think we're trying to do too much and running around trying to do each other's job," Jonathan Toews said. "Sometimes we just need to simply and finish our checks and support each other."

No team has given up more even-strength high-danger chances through eight games than the Blackhawks at 110. That's 15.77 per 60 minutes. For reference, the New York Islanders finished worst in the league in that category last season and their number was at 12.96.

It didn't help that the Blackhawks spent nearly the entire second period in their own end on Sunday.

"We just couldn’t get it out of our zone, couldn’t get our stick on it, didn’t see pressure, didn’t feel pressure when we had it, were stripped," coach Joel Quenneville said. "Hence, we didn’t advance it. Kept looking like we were going up the ice and there were going to be some odd-man situations and then we’re the ones who were facing it."

That's one way to eliminate those high quality scoring chances, is getting the puck out of their own zone effectively or else it opens the door for Grade-A opportunities because of self-inflicted wounds. And it usually happens at the end of shifts when guys are tired, which often leads to goals.

"We have to learn how to play without the puck better and learn how to keep it," Quenneville said. "Whether it was our execution going up the ice, first pass poor and then we couldn’t change. A lot of things that happened yesterday were there tonight."

The Blackhawks weren't using three games in four nights as an excuse because Tampa Bay was in the same situation. It was an even playing field in that respect.

It's all about execution from everyone involved, forwards and defensemen. And the Blackhawks feel they're correctable issues.

"Of course," Toews said. "We've had some good periods this season so far. The first three, four, five games, everyone was excited and you guys are all talking to us much differently than you are right now. It's just getting back to playing that smart defensive game and playing with effort and letting our offense do the work. We know what's got to improve. It's right there in front of us."

White Sox sign Enoy Jimenez, the 17-year-old brother of Eloy Jimenez

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USA TODAY

White Sox sign Enoy Jimenez, the 17-year-old brother of Eloy Jimenez

One Jimenez just isn't enough for the White Sox.

The White Sox signed the younger brother of top prospect Eloy Jimenez this weekend. Enoy Jimenez is a 17-year-old infielder, and the 21-year-old outfielder ranked as the No. 3 prospect in baseball was on hand for his brother's big moment.

Eloy figures to hit the big leagues early next season, though it will likely be a while longer before his teenage brother could do the same. Still, they're likely hoping for the chance to play together one day.

According to this pretty exhaustive list from MLB.com, four sets of brothers have played together on the White Sox: Homer and Ted Blankenship in the 1920s, Dick and Hank Allen in the 1970s, Roberto and Sandy Alomar in 2003 and 2004 and John and Jordan Danks in 2012.

Should we be getting ready for the fifth pair?