Bears

Shut out in more ways than one

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Shut out in more ways than one

The Chicago Blackhawks were shut out in Game 6 of the 2012 NHL postseason, and as a result, have been knocked out of the playoffs. Phoenix's advancement shocked many since the Hawks went into the series with the better record and a Championship title under their belts.

So, you might ask, where did all that battle and brawl go once the playoffs started?

There will be a lot of Monday morning quarterbacking for the Blackhawks in the months ahead, so I figured I'd throw in my two cents worth.

There are two great equalizers in hockey: goaltending and talented size. On Monday night, Mike Smith was the Phillip Humber of hockey by going out there and doing what not many professionals have done in their careers--pitch a perfect game.

It was not only the quantity but also the quality of saves Smith made that created a perfect outing in a lot of respects.

Corey Crawford made all the saves he should have and was still staring at a one goal deficit after 40 minutes of play. By that point, the Blackhawks had peppered Smith with 28 shots and 14 scoring opportunities.

After Phoenix scored their second goal, it appeared clear that Smith would come out the winning goalie in the matchup.

Chicago got neutralized by the size of the Coyotes. Their team is big where it matters--down the middle and on the back end.

Referees are reluctant to call interference penalties (hooking, holding), especially in the playoffs, and there wasn't a lot of room for the Blackhawk forwards to create. When they did break free for a scoring chance, there were big bodies blocking shots, including a 6'4' world class netminder.

So what does all this mean? That the Blackhawks will have to live with this one for a while, make some tweaks where tweaking is needed, and come back next fall ready to get back to the top of that mountain--a place they found themselves just two years ago.

That place, right now, seems pretty far away.

Bears among 4 teams under most pressure to secure win in Week 2

Bears among 4 teams under most pressure to secure win in Week 2

The Chicago Bears' Week 2 matchup against the Denver Broncos may not be a do-or-die moment in the season just yet, but it's certainly not a game they can afford to lose.

Since 2007, 98 teams have begun the year 0-2. Only 12 made the playoffs. Assuming math wasn't your major, that's just 12.2 percent.

So if the Bears lose Sunday, their season might already be on life support.

ESPN's Field Yates listed Chicago as one of four teams with notable pressure riding on Week 2's results.

The Browns, Falcons and Steelers, all of whom lost in embarrassing fashion in Week 1, join the Bears as teams who had playoff expectations entering the season. None of them looked like potential contenders on opening weekend, but with few starters playing any meaningful reps during the preseason, rust certainly played a factor.

That won't be the case after Week 2. If Chicago falls victim to a Denver team that's coming off a pretty bad loss to the Raiders, fans will begin to panic. 

And based on the history of 0-2 starts, the panic will be justified.

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Broncos cornerback predicts low-scoring game vs. Bears

Broncos cornerback predicts low-scoring game vs. Bears

If Week 1 was any indication, Sunday's game between the Chicago Bears and Denver Broncos may not exactly qualify as a showcase of offensive football. 

Broncos quarterback Joe Flacco threw for just one touchdown against the Raiders while Mitch Trubisky was blanked against the Packers. Denver's leading rusher, Royce Freeman, managed just 56 yards rushing, which was actually three times more productive than David Montgomery, who had just 18 yards on six rushes.

An argument can be made that the Broncos had a more "productive" day than Chicago because they played a less-talented Raiders defense, but neither offense inspired much confidence that Week 2 will be a high-flying affair.

Broncos cornerback Chris Harris would seem to agree.

“I think it’s going to be a low scoring game, an old-school football game, a tough defensive game and that’s how I see it,” cornerback Chris Harris said Thursday. “We have to go out there and be the better defense this Sunday.”

Broncos defenders will have a little added pressure to outplay Chicago's defense in Week 2. Vic Fangio earned the Denver head job because of his defensive resume, which peaked in 2018 while serving as the Bears' defensive coordinator. There'll be a little extra motivation among Broncos starters to give their coach some bragging rights over his former team.

The opposite is also true; the Bears want to prove their defense is bigger than any single person, including Fangio. A dominating performance will go a long way in establishing that.

All of this likely adds up to a low-scoring Week 2 game.

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