Bulls

Word on the Street: Baker fears Cubs in Central

Word on the Street: Baker fears Cubs in Central

Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2011CSNChicago.com
Baker fears Cubs in NL Central

After a disappointing 2010 campaign many people remain skeptical about the team's chances in 2011, even with the aquisition of a top-of-the-rotation pitcher in Matt Garza. Reds manager Dusty Baker is not one of those people.

Baker believes that the Cubs will be right in the thick of what he predicts to be a wide-open NL Central race this year.

"Our division is tougher. The Cubs are better, they have picked up some pitching, and they've got some healthy pitching coming back, and they have some new players," Baker said. "Our division is going to be one of the tougher divisions. Seems like whoever was trading somebody was trading to our division. It's going to be a tough fight; it's going to be a tough division. But, hey, that's what it's all about." (ChicagoBreakingSports)

Hawks punished at practice

If there was any question as to how Blackhawks' coach Joel Quennenville felt about his team's level of play on Monday night in Calgary, it was erased at Tuesday's practice. Quennenville put his team through an intense 45-minute practice today - "punishment" for their poor effort in Monday's 3-1 loss to the Flames.

Last nights a good example. You get what you deserve, coach Joel Quenneville said of the missing competitive level. Youve got to play hard every night. With Vancouver, the way you play, even though you lost, you still have to come out again like that. (Monday night) was one of the biggest (games) of the year, the importance of it all and it was disappointing. We didnt handle it the way we shouldve. (CSNChicago)
LakersNuggets in talks for Anthony

As the NBA trade deadline creeps closer and closer, another potential suitor for Nuggets star Carmelo Anthony has come to out of the woodwork. The Los Angeles Lakers are now reported to have begun "preliminary" talks into a deal involving Anthony.

It has been speculated that the deal would revolve around the often-injured Lakers center Andrew Bynum. However, there were also some reports indicating that the Lakers would be unwilling to trade Bynum. (All Headline News)

Pujols deadline is Feb. 16

It was reported last month that Albert Pujols gave the Cardinals a spring training deadline to work out a contract extension. It was assumed that Pujols meant Feb. 19, the day he was expected to report to the Cardinals' spring training facility. As it turns out, though, he will be reporting three days earlier than was originally thought - Feb. 16.

However minor, this three day jump in his deadline is interesting because the Cardinals have still yet to make Pujols a contract offer, and now they have three fewer days than they might have previously assumed. (MSNBC)

Bulls Outsiders Podcast: LaVine turns in an All Star performance as the Bulls beat the Clippers

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

Bulls Outsiders Podcast: LaVine turns in an All Star performance as the Bulls beat the Clippers

On this edition of the Bulls Outsiders podcast, See Red Fred joins Big Dave and Matt Peck. The guys talk about some big plays down the stretch by Zach LaVine and Denzel Valentine. Plus a great defensive job by Kris Dunn on Paul George. (1:30) See Red Fred states his case for more playing time for Denzel Valentine. (4:00) Plus what's going to happen when Otto Porter and Chandler Hutchison come back. (8:00) The guys share some concerns about Coby White in the short term. (10:30) See Red Fred tells you about 3 players who have exceeded expectations this year. (13:00) Plus the guys debate whether Zach LaVine should compete in the dunk contest or 3 point competition. (18:00) They discuss the impact that Kris Dunn has had on the defensive end of the floor. (20:30) Plus See Red Fred lays out his blueprint for the Bulls to make the playoffs. (23:30) Plus the guys make a wager regarding the rest of the season. (25:00)
 

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

Bulls Outsiders

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Blackhawks hit new low after epic collapse in St. Louis

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USA Today

Blackhawks hit new low after epic collapse in St. Louis

ST. LOUIS — The Blackhawks needed something to feel good about going into a Central Division showdown against the reigning Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues. A solid 60-minute effort would've sufficed, but a win would've trumped all, no matter how they got it. Two points translates into confidence and confidence turns into belief.

Well, both the Blackhawks' confidence and belief are starting to run thin after hitting a new low in Saturday's 4-3 loss.

For the second time in 10 days, the Blackhawks squandered a three-goal lead in the third period by giving up four unanswered goals in a span of 13:16 to a Blues team that, quite frankly, dominated the entire game. The Blues led in shot attempts (65-40), shots on goal (38-22), even-strength scoring chances (34-13) and even-strength high-danger chances (14-2), according to Natural Stat Trick, but couldn't crack a red-hot Corey Crawford until the third period. 

It was an epic collapse for the Blackhawks, who lost their fourth in a row and for the 10th time in 13 games. And there are no words to describe it.

"It shows where we're at," head coach Jeremy Colliton said. "We're not good enough in those situations. All we can do is continue to talk about and show the team and work together to make it better. That's the only way it gets better. We recognize the problem. We've got to find a way to take a step. I think we have taken steps at times, but it's not consistent enough."

The Blackhawks are a fragile team right now and you could see it in their body language from the opening faceoff, almost as if they're starting the game already down a couple goals. Can you remember the last time they opened a game by dictating the terms?

In dark times like these, your best players have to step up and take control and they did that on Saturday.

Brandon Saad scored twice, Jonathan Toews registered two primary assists, Patrick Kane ended a six-game goal drought and Crawford stopped the first 32 shots he faced before the Blues' third-period onslaught. And yet it still wasn’t enough.

Brent Seabrook and Toews — two members of the Blackhawks’ leadership group — were sitting at their stalls after the game awaiting the media and made no excuses. They accepted responsibility and acknowledged being in this position is unacceptable.

"Being out there in those situations, you got to take pride in it," Seabrook said. "I know I take a lot of pride in it. ... I know I'm on there for two [goals], the second and third one. It's a critical part of the game and I've got to be better in those moments."

"That sucks to blow that one with the lead that we had," Toews said. "But there's situations where we've got to get pucks out and I lost my check a few times."

So what now? Where do the Blackhawks go from here? Will it get worse before it gets better? 

Is the season even salvageable?

"Why not? One game at a time," Toews said. "We had a rough week. ... It's easy to look at the storyline and get really discouraged and come up with the wrong mentality in your mind about what can happen going forward, but it's the wrong way to go about it. We've just got to focus on tomorrow night and build off the things we keep doing well. Each guy has to look at himself and try to find ways to bring more out of himself every night."

The Blackhawks have been searching for answers all season and they’re not getting any closer to finding a solution. They’re getting further away from it.

A drastic change might be necessary, but the frustration stems from the Blackhawks knowing what the problem is on the ice and still not doing anything about it.

"We need to, when the game's on the line, buckle down, stop and start, make the right read,” Colliton said. “I know they know and I know we as a group know what we have to do to have success and it's just a matter of doing it."

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