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Second straight 'one-and-done' leaves plenty of question marks

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Second straight 'one-and-done' leaves plenty of question marks

A season that began with so much promise has again ended much too abruptly.

Its hard to believe, but Mike Smith went into Game 6 with the ninth-best goals-against average in the playoffs and the seventh-best save percentage. After the Blackhawks fired 39 more shots his way - including a dominant first two periods - they were left with 241 for the series, and just a dozen got past him before his first Stanley Cup playoff shutout.

This series was won by a goalie -- and the system that goalie is in -- being better than what the other side could muster.

I was a little leery about this matchup when many people were preferring facing the Pacific Division champ over another first-round faceoff with Nashville. In the end, that one probably wouldnt have worked out much better. The Preds were just as difficult a matchup this season for the Hawks as these Yotes were.

Since the wounds are still a little fresh, well look more closely at what the Blackhawks face and potential decisions theyll need to make over the coming days. But with as many commitments as the organization has made to its core players, itll be interesting to watch what roster moves are made in the months ahead -- and how the labor situation might affect things - not to mention how soon the Hawks are even able to get back to work again.

There are enough things to analyze, from the special teams, to the back of the defensive corps, to the decisions thatll need to be made about which young players (or veterans) they would potentially package to get closer to what this team accomplished just two short years ago. Or whether theyll count on those youngsters upside and stay closer to the vest. Whichever way the Hawks go, there will certainly be debate.

The competition to upgrade will be fierce. Look around the landscape of the teams the Hawks now join as one-and-done. The cream of the crop in recent years doesnt want to fall further behind, either. Vancouver, San Jose, Detroit and Pittsburgh are all gone already. New teams have arrows pointing upward, moving on to the second round.

The playoffs are often a crapshoot. No guarantees, where the previous six months can often be wiped off with a clean slate. But one thing is certain over the course of a best-of-seven series: the better teams advance.

After winning four straight series two years ago, the Hawks now have to wait another year just to have a chance at winning their first one since hoisting the Cup.

ICYMI: Eloy Jimenez making his return?; Javier Báez exits Sunday's game with minor injury; Time for Bulls to think outside the box?

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USA TODAY

ICYMI: Eloy Jimenez making his return?; Javier Báez exits Sunday's game with minor injury; Time for Bulls to think outside the box?

Eloy Jimenez looks set to make his White Sox return this week, Javier Báez exited Sunday's game with a minor injury and is it time for the Bulls to think outside the box in the NBA Draft? Here's what you may have missed from the weekend in Chicago sports:

White Sox

All indications point towards Eloy Jimenez returning to the White Sox this week, as the rookie outfielder was not in Triple-A Charlotte's lineup on Sunday. Jimenez's return comes just in time, as the White Sox play two of the best teams in baseball this week.

Manny Banuelos went on the injured list last week, though his stay on the shelf might be brief. Who starts in Banuelos' place on Monday is still uncertain.

The White Sox aren't getting what they expected from Ivan Nova so far, but Lucas Giolito has been tremendous. Giolito spun another good start on Saturday; what's behind his resurgence?

On the latest White Sox Talk Podcast, Chuck Garfien and Vinnie Duber discuss James McCann's breakout season.

Cubs

Javier Báez exited Sunday's game against the Nationals with a right heel contusion, though he could be back in the lineup on Monday.

Jon Lester's hot streak came to an end on Saturday, though the bigger story from the game is the Cubs questioning if Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle's delivery is legal.

The Cubs put on a home run derby vs. the Nationals on Friday. The team also used the same 1-5 hitters all weekend; here's why the group is worth sticking with for the foreseeable future.

Former Cubs starter Carlos Zambrano made his return to the mound over the weekend with the independent Chicago Dogs.

On the latest Cubs Talk Podcast, Luke Stuckmeyer and NBC Sports Chicago producers Eric Strobel and Nate Poppen breakdown Monday's matchup between Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta.

Other

NBC Sports Chicago's Mark Schanowski wonders if it's time for the Bulls to think outside the box in the NBA Draft.

Mark Strotman breaks down potential options for the Bulls at No. 7 in Texas Tech's Jarrett Culver and Duke's Cam Reddish.

In the latest Blackhawks mailbag, Charlie Roumeliotis discusses Blackhawks trade probabilities and playoff chances in 2019-20.

White Sox Talk Podcast: What has James McCann meant to the White Sox? Everything

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: What has James McCann meant to the White Sox? Everything

Chuck Garfien and Vinnie Duber talk about James McCann's breakout season with the White Sox (1:15).

Then Chuck speaks with McCann about all the preparation he does for every game (9:20), why he'll never use a cheat sheet scouting report behind the plate like many catchers do (11:30) and what McCann has been badgering Lucas Giolito about since spring training (14:30).

Plus, why Evan Marshall and Aaron Bummer have been so successful out of the bullpen (16:30), why McCann acts as a karaoke host on the team bus (17:40) and more.

Listen to the entire podcast here or in the embedded player below.

White Sox Talk Podcast

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