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 Inactives: Khalil Mack, Allen Robinson active for Bears vs. Patriots

Bears Inactives: Khalil Mack, Allen Robinson active for Bears vs. Patriots

Bears fans can breathe a collective sigh of relief. Chicago will have two of its top injured play-makers back on the field to take on the New England Patriots.

The teams announced their inactives for the game, and both Khalil Mack and Allen Robinson were good to go.

Mack missed two days of practice this week with the ankle injury he suffered against the Miami Dolphins and was questionable for Week 7. He was able to participate on a limited basis on Friday, and evidently that was enough for him to give it a go at Soldier Field.

He likely won’t be at 100 percent, but he’ll have a more favorable matchup facing the Patriots’ backup right tackle LaAdrian Waddle. Starter Marcus Cannon was ruled out this week with a concussion.

Robinson was also questionable with a groin injury that limited his week of practice. He was an unexpected addition to the injury report his week as his injury didn’t appear to affect him against the Dolphins,

He’s Mitchell Trubisky’s most-targeted receiver this season, and he'll be relied on against a New England defense that’s known for throwing a lot at young quarterbacks.

(Too) Bold Predictions: A big day for the Bears' running backs

(Too) Bold Predictions: A big day for the Bears' running backs

You've stumbled into (Too) Bold Predictions, a weekly column that is exactly what it sounds like! Here, we'll take nuanced, well-researched information and use to make wildly improbable predictions. Analysis! 

 

J.J. Stankevitz 

1. Jordan Howard will have his first 100-yard game of the year.
Hear me out: This happens if Bill Belichick’s strategy is to drop seven or even eight defenders into zone coverage, forcing Mitch Trubisky to make good decisions and fit passes into tight windows against a secondary that’s the strength of the Patriots’ defense. Or...Matt Nagy recognizes what’s in front of him and pounds the ball to Howard 15-20 times with plenty of success. Belichick, too, was extremely complimentary of Tarik Cohen on a conference call with Chicago media this week, and it wouldn’t be surprising if Cohen is the guy the future Hall of Fame coach tries to take away. Either way, it’s also worth noting here the Patriots allowed Kerryon Johnson to become the first Detroit Lions running back to have a 100-yard game since 2013 (!) in Week 2. And Howard still has shown flashes this year, like the 34 yards he gained on consecutive carries in overtime against Miami. 

 

2. Danny Trevathan or Roquan Smith will make a big play when it counts.
Given how good the rookie running back combo of Sony Michel (67 carries, 236 yards) and James White (23 receptions, 198 yards) has been recently, a lot of the Bears’ defensive success will hinge on the inside linebacking play of Trevathan and Smith. Trevathan has had an up-and-down year, playing outstanding ball in Weeks 2 and 4 but having some issues against the likes of David Johnson and Kenyan Drake/Frank Gore. Smith’s athleticism stands out but he’s still growing into Vic Fangio’s defense. Sunday will be a major test for both of them, and if the Bears are to win, it may come down to one of these two guys making a big-time play: A forced fumble, interception, run stuff on third down, etc. For the sake of a bold prediction, I’ll go with Smith making a play at the end of Sunday’s game that stands as the first big moment of the rookie’s pro career. 

 

Cam Ellis

1. Tarik Cohen's performance will garner the attention of national media 
Last Sunday night, Kansas City's Tyreek Hill had seven catches for 142 yards and three touchdowns. He averaged almost 21 yards per catch, thanks in part to a 75-yard touchdown score late in the 4th. The Patriots' defense clearly had no answer for Hill's speed. Now Cohen isn't a carbon copy of Hill, but he plays a similar role in the Bears' offense that Hill plays for the Chiefs. New England's linebackers lack and real speed -- especially on the outside -- which obviously bodes well for Cohen. Belichick is notoriously for creating game plans that take away the other team's best offensive players, but with the personell he has on defense, it's going to be tough to matchup with Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Trey Burton, AND Cohen. The guess here is that Robinson and Gabriel have quiet games, but Cohen runs circles around the Pats. 

 

2. The Bears and Pats are tied heading into the 4th quarter
For a team with aspirations of an NFC North title (and more) this shouldn't be a bold prediction, and yet, it kinda feels like it? After a slow start to the season, the Patriots' offense have scored at least 38 points in each of the last three games. This Bears defense is the best they'll have played yet, so I don't expect them to get anywhere close to 38 today, especially with how the defense played last week in Miami. I think New England comes out of Chicago with a win, but the Bears will play them closer than people are predicting. A Cody Parkey-Stephen Gostkowski battle royale could be in play.