Blackhawks

Reinsdorf thinking multiple titles possible

Reinsdorf thinking multiple titles possible

Wednesday, March 9, 2011
CSNChicago.com

Reinsdorf: Bulls have chance to win at least four championships

The Bulls will honor the 1990-91 championship team during halftime of Saturday's home game against the Jazz.

Its a great thing to bring these players back, Reinsdorf said. Im sure the fans will enjoy seeing them, and they will be extremely well-received.

Speaking of this year's team, Reinsdorf believes they have a bright future ahead of them.

If you dont see something special in Derrick Rose, then youreblind, Reinsdorf said. We have an outstanding coach, an outstandingbunch of players, the team is deep, and if we stay healthy, we have anawfully good chance of winning at least four championships. (Chicago Sun-Times)

Obama watching CSN tonight?

President Barack Obama has not been shy about rooting for his hometown team. In the latest event Obama is dedicating to his Chicago sports teams, the commander in chief is hosting a Bulls-Bobcats viewing party at the White House. He better not be watching the Bobcats feed!

On Friday, Obama will honor the Blackhawks for their Stanley Cup victory at the White House. After the ceremony, the team will volunteer at a children's street hockey clinic on the South Lawn. (NBCChicago.com)

Thibodeau comes highly recommended - from the highest of places

Current Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau has a heck of a list of references. In fact, he has some of the top players in Washington, D.C. singing his praises.

Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf told the Chicago Sun-Times that Thibs was first recommended to him by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (who played for Thibodeau at Harvard). When the position became available and Thibs was hired, David Axelrod thanked Reinsdorf for hiring his old assistant coach.

President Barack Obama approved of the deal as well. He told Reinsdorf, "Great hire." (Chicago Sun-Times)

No disciplinary action from NHL for Chara

Bruins captain Zdeno Chara will not be fined of suspended for Tuesday night's hit on Canadiens Max Pacioretty.

By now, you've probably seen Chara's terrifying hit on Pacioretty along the boards that saw Pacioretty slam his head into the stanchion separating the benches. After laying motionless on the ice for minutes, he was taken off the ice on a stretcher and moved to the hospital for observation.

Chara was kicked out of the game and given a five-minute major for interference for the hit. (CSN New England)

Braves minor league manager regains consciousness

After being hit in the face by a foul ball during Atlanta's 6-1 Grapefruit League loss to St. Louis, Braves minor league manager Luis Salazar regained consciousness and was breathing on his own.

Brian McCann's line drive hit Salazar while he was standing in the dugout in the first inning of the game at Champion Stadium. He was unconscious for at least 20 minutes, but came to during the helicopter ride to the hospital. (Blogs.AJC.com)

Suh says Bears' O-line needs youth

Ndamukong Suh has plenty to say about the Bears' O-line, and it's not all too flattering. In an interview on NFL Network, Suh called the offensive line on the Chicago Bears "over the hill."

Suh said that the Bears' key to getting better has to do with the O-line.

"I think they have a good offensive line, but it's a matter that they're definitely trying to get over the hill, and they're getting there," Suh said. (National Football Post)

Anthony Duclair regrets not making most of opportunity with Blackhawks

anthony_duclair_usa_today.jpg
USA TODAY

Anthony Duclair regrets not making most of opportunity with Blackhawks

Anthony Duclair knew what kind of opportunity he had in front of him when he was traded to the Blackhawks in January. The first day he stepped into the locker room, he admitted he was a little "star-struck."

But the marriage didn't last very long. 

After recording only two goals and eight assists in 23 games, the Blackhawks chose to move on from the restricted free agent by not extending a qualifying offer. Duclair later latched on with the Columbus Blue Jackets on a one-year, $650,000 "prove-it" deal.

"I wasn't surprised," Duclair said before Saturday's game against his former team. "I knew that I didn't perform as well as I did when I was there. I think I was there for only 20 games and didn't live up to the standards. As soon as I didn't hear anything from my agent I sort of got the message. But it was time to move on."

Duclair made no excuses for what went wrong in Chicago and accepted responsibility for not taking advantage of his opportunity, even though a leg injury sidelined him for the final month that prevented him from giving the Blackhawks a larger sample size.

"I just didn't perform well," he said. "It's going to be one of my regrets, to get that opportunity in Chicago and not perform in the way I did. It was something I had to look in the mirror this summer and move on obviously, but at the same time whenever a team comes next I think I'm going to take that opportunity and run away with it."

It's obvious that Duclair's got the potential to be an effective offensive player in the NHL. But we've only seen that in flashes, which is a large reason why it didn't work out in Chicago and why, entering his fifth season in the league, he still finds himself trying to play for a long-term contract.

"Just being more consistent," Duclair said. "Thats comes up a lot and my agents talks to a couple GMs around the league and it's something I'm trying to work on. It's not something you can work on in the summer, it's more preparing mentally and physically and that's what I've been trying to do."

So far, so good in Columbus.

Duclair has two goals and two assists through six games and is averaging 15:22 of ice time playing in a top-six role, on track to shatter his previous career high in that category (14:23) when he did so as a sophomore in 2015-16 with Arizona. He even made headlines on Thursday after scoring a highlight-reel goal against the Philadelphia Flyers, saying his "phone blew up quite a bit."

How he scored it is what stood out and his perspective after it is encouraging for his overall growth, as well.

"I've already put it behind me to be honest with you," Duclair said. "I'm just focused on Chicago now. I want to be consistent throughout every shift. Look at that goal, [it was] second and third efforts. That's what I want to bring to the table every shift, especially with the guys I'm playing right now. I just want to be having the puck whenever you can and being big on the forecheck."

Three keys and prediction: Bears vs. Patriots

Three keys and prediction: Bears vs. Patriots

1. Good games from Roquan Smith and Danny Trevathan. Here’s a sampling of Pro Football Focus grades for primary middle/inside/will linebackers against New England this year: 

Reggie Ragland (KC): 60.1
Anthony Hitchens (KC): 30.2
Zaire Franklin (IND): 48.6
Najee Goode (IND): 47.1
Kiko Alonso (MIA): 63.9
Raekwon McMillan (MIA): 62.5
Christian Jones (DET): 59.7
Jarrad Davis (DET): 29.8
Telvin Smith Sr. (JAX): 64.1
Myles Jack (JAX): 61.0
Bernardrick McKinney (HOU): 68.7
Zach Cunningham (HOU): 43.2

Think what you will of Pro Football Focus’ grades, but the average here is 53.2. Interestingly, though, the average grade for these 12 players over the course of the 2018 season is 51.5. So maybe the issue is the Patriots have faced a bunch of mediocre-to-bad linebackers, allowing them to take advantage of those soft spots with Sony Michel running the ball and James White catching it. Smith’s PFF grade is 62.3; Trevathan’s is 64.3, so by this measure, they’re better than any of the interior linebackers the Patriots have faced but still are the weak spot in the Bears’ defense (only Jonathan Bullard has a lower PFF grade among players with 100 or more snaps). 

How Smith and Trevathan play will be key in determining how quickly Brady is able to get the ball out (with passes to White), and how many times they get into third-and-less-than-five situations (with Michel running it). Both those factors will be critical for the Bears’ pass rush, which brings us to our next point.

2. Pressure Tom Brady without blitzing. Brady is a master of beating blitzes, completing 23 of 21 passes for 314 yards with three touchdowns, no interceptions and only one sack when blitzed, per PFF (that’s good for a 138.4 passer rating). When he’s under pressure, though, he has his lowest passer rating — which is still 87.2 — but the point here is that the Bears can’t afford to have to send blitzes to try to get pressure on Brady. The Bears were one of the best teams in the league at pressuring opposing quarterbacks without blitzing before the trip to Miami, and how healthy Khalil Mack really is will be a critical determining factor in those efforts. But when the Bears do earn their pass-rushing opportunities, as Akiem Hicks put it, they need to at least affect Brady and not let him comfortably sit back to pick apart their defense. 

3. Convert red zone opportunities into touchdowns. This was a point Taylor Gabriel made this week about the state of the NFL in 2018: You can no longer afford to settle for three points or, worse, come away from a red zone possession with no points. Scoring is up league-wide, and the Patriots have scored 38, 38 and 43 points in their last three games. One of the biggest reasons the Bears lost that shootout in Miami was two turnovers from inside the five-yard line (Jordan Howard’s fumble, Mitch Trubisky’s interception). Stopping New England’s offense will be difficult, and the expectation should be for Sunday to be a high-scoring afternoon. If that’s the case, the Bears will have to get in the end zone every opportunity they get. The good news: New England’s defense is allowing a touchdown on 68 percent of their opponents’ possessions inside the red zone. 

Prediction: Patriots 31, Bears 27. The Bears’ defense sounded properly motivated after getting gouged by Brock Osweiler in Miami last weekend, but that only goes so far when one of the best quarterbacks of all time rolls into town. This winds up being a back-and-forth affair, but the guy with 54 game-winning drives in his regular season and playoff career makes it 55 late in the fourth quarter at Soldier Field. A close loss to the Patriots wouldn’t dampen the positive vibes around the Bears, so long as they respond with wins against the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills in the next two weeks.