Blackhawks

Three-headed monster leading the way in Cubs rotation

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Three-headed monster leading the way in Cubs rotation

In 2011, the Cubs' main problem was getting consistent starting pitching.

Matt Garza was the team's best pitcher and was effective all season, save for a brief stint on the DL. Ryan Dempster struggled through a career-worst season and Carlos Zambrano started off consistent before imploding and finishing the season on leave from the team.

Beyond that, the Cubs were fishing all year long after injuries forced Nos. 4 and 5 starters Randy Wells and Andrew Cashner out of the rotation in the season's first week.

Starting pitching was a major point of emphasis for the new regime and it's proven to be the team's strong point so far this season.

Dempster, Garza and Jeff Samardzija have formed a three-headed monster at the front of the rotation that has been dominant, to say the least.

Following Thursdays contest -- in which Dempster went 8 shutout innings, allowing just three hits and one walk -- the Cubs' trio has been on a roll.

In their last starts, the three pitchers have combined to give up just one run in 23.2 innings (a 0.38 ERA). They've allowed only seven hits and four walks over that span, while striking out 23. Eye-popping numbers.

Dempster's start Thursday was even more impressive as it was his first start since returning from the disabled list with a right quad injury.

On the season, their lines look like this:

Dempster: 0-1, 0.95 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, 29 K28.1 IP
Garza: 2-1, 2.67 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 36 K33.2 IP
Samardzija: 3-1, 3.41 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 32 K31.2 IP

Throw in Paul Maholm's last two starts -- 12.1 IP, 9 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 6 K and two wins -- and starting pitching has been far from the Cubs' problem this year in their 9-16 start.

Blackhawks remember Dave Bolland for more than just '17 Seconds'

Blackhawks remember Dave Bolland for more than just '17 Seconds'

The Blackhawks are honoring one of their own on Friday, with Dave Bolland set to skate “One More Shift” with the organization. He will join the team on the ice during the anthem, and will be featured throughout the game commemorating his time in Chicago.

When you think of Bolland, the first thing that pops up into the minds of fans is his game-winning goal in Game 6 of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final against the Boston Bruins. Or, better known as the second goal of "17 Seconds."

But his former teammates remember him for more than that.

"He was awesome," Patrick Kane said. "He was one of those guys who played a third-line role for like his whole time here and just really did well with it. I remember the line with him, [Martin] Havlat and [Andrew] Ladd really took off in 2009 and obviously [Dustin] Byfuglien, him and [Kris] Versteeg were a good line in 2010. But just the way he played, he got underneath the other teams skin, especially their star players. Wasn't afraid to chirp, wasn't afraid to get into the mix, especially with his size and the way he was built.

"But yeah, some great moments, some big goals, a lot of big shorthanded goals, you can obviously remember his 17 seconds was unbelievable as well, that's a goal I'm sure he'll never forget. We'll never forget that celebration too, so it's awesome he's getting honored."

Bolland, who earned the nickname "The Rat," is perhaps best known for the role he played in the Blackhawks' playoff series battles with the Vancouver Canucks. His line frequently drew the defensive matchups against Daniel and Henrik Sedin, and he's the one player who really knew how to throw both twins off their game at the same time.

"I think he's kind of like Shawzy," Jonathan Toews said. "He's one of those guys that fans here in Chicago really like. Aside from scoring goals and the plays that he made over the years in the playoffs, he was one of those guys that you loved having on your team that other teams hated. He found ways to chip away at their best players and get them off their game. He was good at a lot of little things like that, so he was a big part of those winning teams."

Andrew Shaw was teammates with Bolland for only two seasons, but they won a Stanley Cup together and Bolland was one of the best and knowing his role and perfecting it.

"One of the best at his job," Shaw said. "He played that shutdown centerman. I always thought he had the shortest shifts. His shift lengths were so short just cause he would play so much against top guys that he'd want to be so well-rested while he was out there. ... He was skilled enough to chip in offensively as well.

"That's the type of player he was. He'd play against the top guys, he'd shut them down, he'd be that little rat himself, just try to get them off their game as well as outworking them."

Bolland spent seven of his 10 NHL seasons in Chicago, where he registered 168 points (70 goals, 98 assists) in 332 games. He was drafted by the Blackhawks in the second round (No. 32 overall) of the 2004 NHL Draft.

Friday will mark the first night honoring the 10-year anniversary of the 2010 Stanley Cup Championship, which ended a 49-year drought in franchise history. The first 10,000 fans on Friday will receive a Marian Hossa bobblehead.

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Should the Chicago Bears trade for Melvin Gordon?

Should the Chicago Bears trade for Melvin Gordon?

The Chicago Bears running game has struggled mightily in 2019. In fact, it's been downright atrocious. Non-existent. Invisible. Nowhere to be found.

You get the point.

But a good running game has a lot of moving parts. Literally. Most notably, it requires a competent offensive line that consistently creates running lanes for the ball carrier, no matter who it is.

The Bears have a talented young running back on the roster in rookie David Montgomery. They invested a third-round pick on him and there's no indication the team has soured on his long-term projected despite a rough five-week span that's seen the former Iowa State star averaging just 3.3 yards per carry.

His struggles are more than just his own, however. He needs help from his offensive line. Most of his carries result in contact at or near the line of scrimmage, and for a first-year player who's still adjusting to life in the NFL, that just isn't a recipe for immediate success.

Here's the thing with the NFL, though: it's a 'what-have-you-done-for-me-lately league.' So if an upgrade can be had (at any position), the Bears have to at least consider it.

According to former Browns offensive lineman and current NFL Network analyst Joe Thomas, GM Ryan Pace should take a long and hard look at Chargers star, Melvin Gordon.

"I would love to see my Badger, Melvin Gordon, go to the Chicago Bears," Thomas said this week. "They're a team right now with a quarterback that's struggling a little bit. Matt Nagy would love to have a weapon like Melvin Gordon who's great not only running the football, but he's great catching the football out of the backfield.

"The type of weapon that he could be, the security blanket that he could be for Mitch Trubisky would be outstanding for this team. He would give Mitch Trubisky a lot of opportunities to get some easy completions, some throws out of the backfield to start boosting his confidence."

Not the worst idea in the world, but let's be honest: there's no way Pace is going to pull the trigger on a running back who's already expressed his desire to be paid among the elite players at his position despite production that simply doesn't put him on that level.

Sure, Gordon would be a fun and exciting addition for a Bears offense that needs a spark right now, but it's way too early to suggest Montgomery can't be that guy once the offensive line and overall flow of the offense improves.