Blackhawks

Turner thriving under the bright lights

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Turner thriving under the bright lights

Evan Turner does not have a problem with his confidence.

The Chicago product stirred the pot prior to the start of the playoffs when he said the Sixers were "dodging a bullet" to draw the Bulls instead of the Heat.

He has been rewarded handsomely for those comments with a downpour of boos every time he has touched the ball in the first two games of the series in Chicago.

After Saturday's contest, Turner said the fans weren't getting to him and he proved it with a big game Tuesday night to help lead the Sixers to victory. His knack for playing the best in the biggest games has endeared him to his teammates and coaches.

"That's what I love about Evan," Sixers head coach Doug Collins said. "He feels like he's the best player in the gym. And I love that. I know he made some ill-timed comments and he gets booed every time he touched the ball. He's using that in a very positive way. A lot of guys would maybe cower away from that, but Evan has risen to the challenge."

With the Sixers down 1-0 in the series, the pressure was on, but Turner was up to the task.

"People always talk about guys disappearing in big moments," he said. "I never wanted to be that type of guy. When it comes to big games, I just want to play well, be there and help my teammates.

"It's the playoffs. Everything is intensified. You have to play with an edge...You have to raise the level of play."

Sixers point guard Jrue Holiday understands the magnitude of each game in this best-of-seven series.

"This is the stage you dream to be on," he said. "Playing against the best team in the East, someone has to step up. It makes it a lot easier when we have guys who have big games."

While Holiday stepped up in his own right, Turner was almost as impressive, scoring 19 points with seven rebounds and six assists.

"Evan played great," Sixers power forward Elton Brand said. "He's a great all-around player. He can rebound for us, score the ball for us, pass the ball, distribute the ball and play defense. He did it all tonight. That's what we need out of him."

After coming off the bench in Game 1, Turner got the start Tuesday night and played almost 42 minutes. Collins designed some plays to get Turner involved in the offense and the young guard said after the game that he was confident he would make the shot when it was given to him.

"Evan had to be out there," Collins said. "He had been playing great. We needed another playmaker.

"I thought Evan hit a couple really big baskets for us when we needed it. They made a little run and I thought he made a couple nice plays that gave us a nice cushion."

NHL 20 sim: Brandon Saad shows shades of Marian Hossa in Game 2 win

NHL 20 sim: Brandon Saad shows shades of Marian Hossa in Game 2 win

 

Game 2: Blackhawks at Blues (April 10)

Result: Blackhawks win 6-2 (Series tied 1-1)

Three Stars:

1st Star: Brandon Saad (2 G, 1 A, 4 SOG, +3)

2nd Star: Olli Maatta (3 A, +2, 1 SOG, 1 H)

3rd Star: Jonathan Toews (1 G, 1 A, +3, 8-14 FO)

Brandon Saad showed shades of his 2014-15 self that was often compared to a young Marian Hossa. He netted two goals, got the primary assist to tie the game in the 2nd, and was a force at both ends recording four shots and a +3 rating. Olli Maatta provided some unexpected offense, chipping in with three assists including the primary helper on the eventual game-winner. The Captain stepped up when needed as well. Toews got the Hawks on the board to tie things in the second, and Chicago never looked back from there.

Scoring Summary:

First Period

-   6:59 Alexander Steen (O. Sundqvist, J. Kyrou) 1-0 

Second Period

-   1:19 Jonathan Toews (B. Saad, A. DeBrincat) 1-1

- 1:46 Brandon Saad (J. Toews, A. Boqvist) 2-1

- 5:04 Alex Nylander (O. Maatta, C. Murphy) 3-1

- 7:01 Drake Caggiula (O. Maatta) 4-1

- 15:03 Kirby Dach (Unassisted) 5-1

- 16:52 Vince Dunn (J. Faulk, S. Blais) 5-2

- 17:32 Brandon Saad (O. Maatta, A. DeBrincat) 6-2

Third Period

- No Scoring

Box Score:

Shots on Goal:

-   Chicago: 24

-   St. Louis: 22

The Blackhawks found a nice combination of depth contributions and stars stepping up. Established veterans like Toews and Saad did the heavy lifting early, then the depth and youth put the game to bed with a strong finish to the second period. With the first line through the fourth line all chipping in, the Hawks might be tough to beat if they are able to keep up that formula.

Goalies:

-   Corey Crawford: 20/22 (.909 SV%)

-   Jordan Binnington: 18/24 (.750 SV%)

Corey Crawford looked like the consistent, two-time Cup winner the Hawks need in net to win a series over St. Louis. After surrendering an early goal, Crawford was lights out despite an early push from the home team to try and put away the Hawks quickly. Once Crawford settled down, so did the visitors. While Binnington clearly didn’t have his best night, he was also a victim of some bad luck surrendering a pair of goals due to some unfortunate bounces. Much like Crawford in Game 1, Binnington didn’t get too much help in front of him.

Power Play:

-   Chicago: 0-1

-   St. Louis 0-0

After five combined penalties in Game 1, the referees swallowed their whistles and let the boys play. With just one power play in two games, there is no doubt Jeremy Colliton would like to see his team get a few more chances on the man advantage. On the other hand, the Hawks showed how important staying out of the box is for their defense and for their goaltender, especially against a power play unit as potent as the Blues’.

Notable Blackhawks performances:

-   Kirby Dach (Goal)

-   Drake Caggiula (Goal)

-   Alex Nylander (Goal)

After strong finishes to the regular season, Dach and Nylander were held in check in Game 1. That changed in a big way in Game 2. Both picked up their first career playoff goals; Nylander netting the eventual game-winner and Dach icing the game with a greasy goal in front of the net. Caggiula played his role well too, being a pest in front of the net, which led to his tally. The Hawks checked all the boxes they needed to pick up a win in Game 2. Now the series swings back to the Madhouse on Madison where the home crowd will undoubtedly be rocking. Blackhawks fans will experience their first home playoff game since April 2017.

NFL Draft: Full list of prospects invited to this year’s virtual event

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USA TODAY

NFL Draft: Full list of prospects invited to this year’s virtual event

The 2020 NFL Draft is slated to move forward with its virtual event, scheduled for April 23rd-25th. On Thursday, the list of players invited to participate in the draft was revealed, featuring a few shocking omissions but also a fair share of star power.

The list contains big-time quarterback prospects, Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert, Jake Fromm,  Jacob Eason, and Jordan Love.

RELATED: NFL Draft 2020 Top 30 prospects on the big board

One of Burrow's favorite targets, promising tight end Thaddeus Moss was also invited, as was LSU wide receiver Justin Jefferson. Perhaps the most notable omission was Penn State wide receiver KJ Hamler. The speedy Hamler had a career-best 947 yards and 8 touchdowns from scrimmage in his second-year with the Nittany Lions. 

It has not yet been revealed what the virtual draft process looks like in full but we are one step closer with the release of the invitees.