Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Blackhawks Head Into Vancouver With Semi-Final Series Tied 1-1

Blackhawks Head Into Vancouver With Semi-Final Series Tied 1-1
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Blackhawks tied the Chicago-Vancouver series up 1-1 Monday night at the United Center by rallying back against a charged up Canucks team to take the win; 4-2. Chicago, 2nd in the standing head into game 3 against Vancouver, 3rd in the standings after 2 fast paced, high energy duels. 

The Vancouver Canucks have started both games with the energy of 1,000 horses combined with 1,000 Spartans. The Canucks out skated the Blackhawks, out played the Blackhawks, out shot the Blackhawks, and out performed the Blackhawks when it comes to turnovers and giveaways. The Canucks could have easily won game 2 if it wasn't for the miraculous goal tending by Antti Niemi who literally was the anchor as the Blackhawks got ahold of themselves and stated playing playoff hockey.

The roller coaster post-season for the Blackhawks continues as the Hawks were caught off guard in an unmotivated and skill lacking performance in game 1. After a good ass beating the Hawks had a revelation and started to play like the Stanley Cup bound Blackhawks they were projected to be (well most of them). With some still inconsistent lines during the playoffs the Blackhawks have gaps in their performance that needs to be filled for the Hawks to take on the rest of the playoffs. One thing the Hawks know to be ready for the next 2 opponents, pending on a Hawks "W" over Vancouver, is that Niemi is our goalie and he is capable of being a Stanley Cup winner.   

A couple things the Hawks will have to fix during the remaining games of the conference semi-finals; Giveaways, Turnovers, Passing, Skating, and Positions. 

The Hawks are averaging 3x more giveaways than the Canucks during the series and Canucks have been taking great advantage over our poor judgment. The Hawks never have a problem being the faster of the 2 teams but they need to be fast and accurate, precise and aggressive, the Canucks are out for revenge after last year's meeting and they need to capitalize on every opportunity. The Hawks during the post season have struggled greatly when it comes to accurate and smart passing, to beat Vancouver's goalie Luongo they will need position themselves for more scoring chances. During mostly game 1 and the 1st period of game 2 then Hawks looked lost as Vancouver's Sedins' skated circles around the entire Blackhawks team, they need to be and stay the game controlling Hawks we saw during the regular season. Lastly, Keep aware of A)The puck but B) your position, the Canucks are great at creating real scoring opportunities and the Hawks defensemen need to be aware of who is around them, where they are, and be able to predict the Canuck's next move. 

Tonight's game will sure be action-packed and full of energy as both teams will be playing (hopefully) some real playoff hockey. So throw on your favorite Hawk's jersey, grab a Miller Lite, and join in the chorus "Let's Go Hawks!" I'm ChiN8 and I want to thank you for following Windy City Sportz. 

Monday, May 3, 2010

Hawks Looking for a 180 in Game 2 Against Vancouver

Blackhawks Needing a 180 in Game 2 Against the Vancouver Canucks
Photo Courtesy of

Chicago Blackhawks host the Vancouver Canucks tonight at the United Center for Game 2 of the conference semi-finals. The Blackhawks are behind in the series 0-1 after falling to the dominating hands of Vancouver Saturday night by a score of 1-5. Blackhawks who were a projected to win the Stanley Cup this year just under the Washington Capitals, who suffered the biggest upset of the post-season as Montreal sent them packing after a 4-3 series win, are not playing like projected Cup champs.

After the crushing defeat Saturday night coach Quenneville stated the Hawks, "can't be happy at all" and "need a response," a response is an understatement, the Hawks need to be revived. The Hawks outshot the Canucks 37-28 but that doesn't help when you have 10 give aways and fewer take aways than your opponents it's not going to be a good outcome. Kane tried to explain the disappointing performance saying, "Came in, thought it would be an easier series," but I don't know what the Hawk's were expecting while the media was hyping this re-match up and just allowing Vancouver's blood to keep boiling for revenge.

Kane showed some anger in a post-game interview, "It's not like were trying to lose game 1, but it was hard to tell," well, the Hawks had all of Chicago saying the same thing last Saturday, "it was hard to tell."

Niemi faced 25 shots on goal and allowed 5 past in the first 40 minutes. Huet started the 3rd period and only faced 3 shots denying all 3. Q-stache said in regards to Niemi's performance, "I'm not blaming goal tending at all, they had a lot of dirt, lot of second chances," even though the entire effort from the Blackhawks sucked, I do believe it is part of the goalie's responsibilities to prevent second opportunities.

The only good thing about Niemi getting destroyed in game 1, is that if history truly repeats it's self, Niemi will have a game 2 shut out. Here's hoping!

Another area to watch tonight is the role of Byfuglien entering in to tonight's game. There is a rumor going around the web that Burish will start at forward and Byfuglien will be back on D. Byfuglien says that this is not true and he will be back on forward "frustrating Luongo," so we will see.

Tonight's game starts at 8:00 CST, so throw on your favorite jersey, grab a Miller lite, and join in the chorus, "Let's Go Hawks!" My name is ChiN8 and I want to thank you for following Windy City Sportz.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Hossa to Play Game 6 vs. Predators

Breaking News: Hossa Will Play Game 6 vs. Nashville Predators
Photo Courtesy of

Marian Hossa will not be suspended and will play in game 6 after a controversial hit as he was called for a boarding major on Nashville defenseman Hamhuis. The 2 were chasing a loose puck heading behind the Preds net, a move on the puck by Hossa sent Hamhuis into the boards. Hamhuis was stunned but was not injured on the play as he skated to his bench after everything was said and done. ESPNChicago predicted yesterday that Hossa will be suspended after the hit and Chicago would have to go into game 6 without their veteran forward.

NHL Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell said this about the decision, "This play is distinguishable from recent incidents by a number of factors, including the degree of contact involved; the fact that the consequences of the play do not appear to be as severe; that this was a hockey play involving a race for the puck; that Mr. Hossa is not a repeat offender; and that the call of a major penalty by the referee was significant and appropriate."

Marian Hossa hasn't put many points on the board in the series, however, he has been a large defensive source for a hurting Chicago Defense. Blackhawks head into Nashville for game 6 tomorrow leading the series 3-2. A win will send Chicago into round 2 and a large win against the feared strong trap defense of Nashville.

Colin Campbell quotes source:

Miracle at the United Center; Hawks Win!

Hawk's Win Miracle in The United Center
Photo Courtest of

The Blackhawks take the series advantage after beating the Nashville Predators in a miraculous 5-4 overtime finish Saturday afternoon at the United Center. Entering game 5 the series was tied 2-2 during a post-season roller coaster with each team going 1-1 while at home. Chicago lost game 1 at home by a score of 1-4, then took control in game 2 with a 2-0 shutout. The roller coaster started in game 3 as the Hawks looked lost on the ice and took another loss in the series falling 1-4 to the Preds again. During this time coach Q had multiple line switches trying to find the perfect combination and answered in game 4 with another shutout; 3-0. While heading into game 5 everyone in Chicago knew they had play a full 60 minute game, stay physical, keep pulling the trigger on net, and play stong defense. The game didn't go as well as planned but the result was in-describable. 

Nashville scored first off a wrister by Legwand who was assisted by Ward who shut down the vision of Niemi as the puck sailed passed him 6 minutes into the 1st. The Blackhawks kept the aggression and drive up, which they have failed to do as of late after a Pred goal, and after a backhand by Ladd on a loose puck and a slap shot by Hjalmarsson from the point the Hawks ended the 1st up 2-1. Hawks out shot the Preds 10-4 in the 1st and the period ended with no penalties on either team.

The Hawks kept peppering the net in the 2nd out shooting the Preds 14-4 but ended the 2nd still only up by 1; 3-2. Hawks scored first in the 2nd after a Kopecky penalty ended and while coming out of the box a pass by Hossa left Kopecky alone against Rinne, Rinne tried a poke check on Kopecky which was averted and Hawks took a 3-1 lead. A separation goal is a great advantage while on ice except when it only lasts 67 seconds. Nashville scored a shortie during a Hawks power play as a terrible pass by Kane left Keith on a 1v3 as a pass to Ward from Legwand beat Niemi. 

Preds took the 3rd in their own hands after scoring early in the period with a string of passes by Nashville and a blown coverage by Bolland left Erat open and Niemi frozen in the butterfly. Erat would etch his name on the score card one more time as he slid a puck in the 5 hole of Niemi after another string of passes by Nashville. I'm not one to throw anyone under the bus, however, Bolland played the puck rather than his position and blew his cover on both 3rd quarter Predator goals as Preds grabbed a 4-3 lead with 9 minutes left in the game.

Let's skip to the Blackhawk's miracle...

63 seconds left in the game, Hossa is flying down the ice behind the Preds net trying to generate as much offense as possible, Hamhuis played the puck as well and Hossa was called for a boarding major as Hamhuis slid into the boards. Preds while on a Power Play with only 63 seconds left in the game surely have this game in the bag.

Hawks were basically playing a 3 on 5 as Kane stayed back by the blue line hoping for a turnover and a pass, however, the Preds were not about to let up on offense. An aggressive play by Keith behind the Hawk's net allowed the Hawk's to gain control and get the puck to Toews who brought it into the Preds zone short handed. As Toews circled around in the zone, he made a cross ice pass to Seabrook, whose slap shot hit the crossbar! Hawk's gain possession again and a pass from Seabrook to Toews allowed for a wrister which was pad blocked by Rinne, and with THIRTEEN SECONDS LEFT Kane grabbed the rebound and backhanded the puck into the net!!! Hawk's tied the game up 4-4 and headed into overtime with 4 minutes left in the Preds power play.

Hawks entered into overtime with a much needed momentum change in their favor but the Predators were not about to lie down. The Predators generated many chances on net during the remaining 4 minutes of Hossa's boarding penalty, putting 5 shots on Niemi. Niemi had to save 2 great chances by the Preds on their overtime power play but ended empty handed as the Preds still have yet to score a power play goal in the series.

With 7 seconds left in the Preds power play, the Blackhawks finally gained control of the puck in their zone and Sopel brought the puck up into the Predator zone. Sopel who controlled the right side of the ice with the puck played like a veteran as he kept the puck instead of shooting or passing to draw out the remainder of Hossa's penalty. Sopel hit Hossa as he left the box who passed it around the boards to Bolland, then back to Sopel who took a shot from the point which deflected off Bolland somehow right to Hossa who took a quick wrister to score the GAME WINNING GOAL!!!!!

Hawks Win! Hawks Win! who cares about the rest of the blog, Hawks head into Nashville leading the series 3-2!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Breaking News: Brian Campbell Skating for Game 4

Breaking News: Brian Campbell Will Play Tonight Against Preds
Photo Courtesy of

Breaking News: Defenseman Brian Campbell will play in game 4 against the Nashville Predators in an attempt to help the Chicago Blackhawks who have fallen behind in the series 1-2. Campbell who hasn't played since March after a cheap shot by Ovechkin, who sent him into the boards breaking his clavicle. Brian and coach Q have said multiple times that Brian's will and drive has his projected time off the ice shortened as Campbell was doing everything he could to help his team out. Comcast sports just reported during the pregame that he will skate tonight for the Hawks and hopefully be the defensive boost Chicago needs against the Preds. 

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Bears to Open 2010 Season in Soldier Field

Chicago Bears to Open 2010 Season in Soldier Field 
Photo Courtesy of Sports Illustrated/Getty Images

The Chicago Bears open the 2010 season in Soldier Field for the first time since 2004 against the Detroit Lions. Do not be fooled however by opponent #1, the Bears will face the 13th most difficult schedule in the NFL this year. The Bears ended the 2009 season 7-9 and after a major revamping of the coaching staff they will attempt to achieve greatness under the high flying offense of new offensive coordinator, Mike Martz.

The Bears will basically split their season in half with a bye in week 8. The talk of the town is that the Bears will have to pad their record heading into the bye week, for the 1st half of their season is considered much easier than the 2nd. The hardest opponents the Bears will have to face in the first 7 games of the season include; the Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers, and if all goes as planned for Washington with the addition of QB McNabb who has also shown a recent desire for WR Terrell Owens they could be a possible threat.

On the other side of the schedule, the Bears will need to have their teamwork down pat as they will face in order; the Minnesota Vikings, Philadelphia Eagles, New England Patriots, Minnesota Vikings, New York Jets, and the Green Bay Packers. The Bears will host the Vikings (11/14), the Eagles (11/28), the Patriots (12/12), and the Jets (12/26) hopefully giving them some advantage during some of their most difficult games late in the season.

The Bears started the Free Agency with a couple bold moves right off the bat, acquiring Chester Taylor, Brandon Manumaleuna, and Julius Peppers. The Bears, however, have left a couple key positions open while entering the draft, including; free safety, offensive guard, offensive tackle, cornerback, defensive end (not a true need), and a possible back up QB. If Chicago fans have anything to say about the draft there will be multiple solid additions to the O-Line as Cutler is now expected to throw 30+ passes every game while in Martz offense. Lovie Smith, and coaching staff has done a better job keeping their plans for the draft a secret, unlike their job keeping their current player moves a secret as seen with Alex Brown and potentially Greg Olsen.

It is looking like a tough year for the Chicago Bears this year, however, with some important additions in an attempt to right this ship we look forward to the 2010 season. I'm ChiN8 and I want to thank you for choosing Windy City Sportz for all your Chicago news.

Bulls lose edge in competitve game, fall to 0-2

Joakim Noah backed up his talk in a Bulls loss on Monday.
Photo Courtest of

It was quite a different atmosphere in the Quicken Loans Arena on Monday the 19th for game 2 of the series as opposed to game 1 on Saturday the 17th. The crowd was more hostile, however so were the Bulls. It was quite a role reversal from the Bulls that showed up to game 2 than to game 1, they seemed to bring confidence and an attitude with them which is what kept them in the game.

The Bulls battled the entire game, keeping pace with the Cavaliers all throughout the first half and entered the half only down by 2; 50-52. The Bulls battled for the lead much of the 3rd quarter and found themselves tied at 77-77 entering into the 4th and final quarter. Tie game, one quarter left and it came down to these; outside shots and Lebron James. In the 4th quarter the Cavaliers drained 4-4 from behind the arc, the Bulls only connected on 1-4 much like the entire game the Bulls are lacking a true sharpshooter from the outside- especially with Kirk Hinrich's 2-8 shooting performance.

However, in the end it was just too much Lebron James for the Bulls, or maybe any team, to compete with. The Bulls may have been one or two possessions away from tieing the series up at 1-1 but Lebron made sure his team travels to Chicago leading 2-0.

It was Lebron's night, everyone else was just invited to spectate.

Nothing against the Bulls, they did everything they were supposed to do to win; win the rebounding battle, limit the turnovers and score points against one of the best defenses in the NBA. The Bulls are down, but not out. Hopefully this performance gives them confidence to battle their way back into the series when it heads to Chicago in the United Center.

It was refreshing to see 3 Bulls' with 20+ points in game 2; Loul Deng (20), Rose (23) and Noah with a playoff high 25 points and 13 rebounds. If the Bulls want to stay in this series they need consistency from those three players- Noah backed up his talking by owning the inside and hustling in 41 minutes of play, Deng looked more comfortable and more aggressive with driving to the basket and finishing strong but I would have like to see more of Derrick Rose in the 4th quarter.

The Bulls don't have a Lebon-potential -esque player, no one has the potential to 'go off', really. Derrick Rose is electrifying but when no one else is hitting from the outside, the Bulls offense turns into the Derrick Rose Show and its no secret that the only chance of the Bulls scoring is through their young point guard. He needs help, help that may not come till the free agency period begins.

Defensively the Bulls are doing a great job. Loul did his best on Lebron and you can truly see his effort is relentless, Rose did a good job of limiting Mo Williams outside shots and the Bulls big men did a good job of putting Shaq in foul trouble early. Maybe the Bulls can consider matching Hinrich on Lebron, leaving Loul to guard Antwan Jamison instead of rookie Taj Gibson. Hinrich's scrappy play could potentially frustrate Lebron and leaving others in favorable match ups will lead to turnovers and much needed breaks for the Bulls.

Expectations weren't too high for these young Bulls coming in and matching up against the heavily-championship-favored Cavaliers, however they are gaining a swagger much like Derrick Rose urged them too- Hard playing, gritty and grinding out every last possession till the whistle blows.

Lets hope this mentality can bring them back into the series to show the NBA what they are really capable of.

Hawks Shutout Preds in Game 2

Hawks Shutout Preds to Take Game 2
Photo courtesy of

Chicago asked, and the Blackhawks answer, The Nashville Predators were no match for a revamped Chicago Blackhawks team Sunday at the United Center in game 2 of the playoffs. Lead by a strong defensive core and an ironman of a goalie, Antti Niemi, the Hawks tied up the series at 1 heading into Nashville tonight for game 3. After being embarrassed by the Preds in game 1 on home ice the Hawks needed to do something to get their swagger back and after a couple line changes by Q-Stache, the Hawks took game 2 with a statement.

In game 1 of the series the Predator’s TRAP defense (Because that's what it is) proved too simple for the flashy Hawks who said heading into game 2, they needed to make more "dirty" goals to defeat the strong defense of Nashville. The game sure wasn't easy as both teams were making some of the best defensive stands I've seen in 1 game. From the Preds point of view, it was mainly Rinne, Preds goalie, who was making the biggest stand of them all grabbing 31 saves on the night.

Dave Bolland scored the Blackhawks first goal of the night, and it was kind of fate that he hit his backhander off a beautiful pass by "My Captain, My Captain." For whatever reason, during the broadcast of the game Pat was saying how Bolland isn't himself since his back surgery and we should just appreciate his attempts during the game for giving it his best. Bolland must have heard that and said, who you calling "not myself," and hit the game-winning goal; beautiful, absolutely beautiful.

We couldn't go a game into this off-season without something from our "mullet-minded" friend Patrick Kane. Kane was credited an assist in Bollands goal and on a beautiful take away and a 2 on 1 fast break, Kane split the defender and goalie by setting up a possible passing attempt; instead he pulled the trigger and fired one right past Rinne for a separation goal and some breathing room. We all know the Preds have played close games the entire year, and actually don't mind playing nail bitters (I knew they were weird) so for Kane to hit that goal was a sigh of relief.

Without touching too much so on the fact that the refs completely screwed Bolland out of a goal I will say, "the refs completely screwed bolland out of a goal." With a centering pass from behind the Preds net, a whistle was blown to blow the puck dead, and the puck was still loose with no possession except for Bolland who slid the puck right between Rinne's legs. That got Q-Stache angry, as well as the entire United Center as they started a glorious chant of, "Bullshit! Bullshit! Bullshit!"

Toews, "My Captain, My Captain," had once again another beautiful look on an empty net and pull the shot high, bouncing off the top crossbar. You could tell Toews was in shock that he missed the goal, but just as any good captain would, he got back into the game and played a strong game.

The defense really stepped it up this game, it was almost as if we weren't missing 2 key elements; Campbell and Johnsson. I can even count the numerous Predator shot attempts in which a Blackhawks would sacrifice themselves for a block. Point 'n case, Sopel, who was absolutely superb in the game, (yes I said it) turned sideways to make himself bigger on a Pred's slap shot from the point to block the shot right in the calf; he limped off the ice after the play but returned to make more great defensive plays.

Hjalmarsson is starting to become one of my favorite players on the ice, I just can't say enough about that guy. He and Sopel both were the odd man out on a 2 on 1 Predators break away where they would sprawl across the ice on a diagonal sweep towards the puck handler to block the pass and break up the puck. In the last minute of the game, as Nashville was peppering the goal, the puck took an odd bounce to the opposite side of Niemi and as Dumont poked the puck Hjalmarsson made the save, practically in the net, to keep the Preds scoreless.

I know this is getting long, but I will start to wrap this up by saying one last point; "Thank you" Marian Hossa. You have made this team better by implementing your veteran playing style and playoff experience. Every game you show me what 110% looks like, and though I know you are getting frustrated by that dumb goalie, Rinne, for making some unheard of saves, Thank you. You can truly see the difference in ability when Hossa is on the ice, he amazes me.

The Hawks head into Nashville tonight for game 3, if the Hawks can be patient and play as well as they did in Game 2, this will have a good outcome. So throw on your favorite jersey, grab a Miller Lite, and join in the chorus, "Let's Go Hawks!"

I'm ChiN8 and I want to thank you for following Windy City Sportz.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Blackhawks Outplayed in Game 1

Blackhawks Outplayed by the Nashville Predators In Game 1
Photo Property of Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images (ESPN)

The Chicago Blackhawks suffered an embarrassing defeat to the Nashville Predators Friday, at the United Center in Game 1 of the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Blackhawks, who are heavily favored in the series, left Chicago stunned and at a loss for words after the 4-1 short coming. Hawks led 1-0 heading into the 3rd period which unfortunately lacked drive, passion, skills, performance, and smart play that ultimately led to a Game 1 loss.

There were many players who were performing quite well throughout the game and the momentum was in favor of the Blackhawks until a slow bouncer, with the speed of a inaccurate dump, bounced past Niemi to tie the game up for the Preds. Niemi, who didn't bother with taking the puck body first, was furious with himself after allowing the 10 mph puck sneak past him. The goal was a definite gut check and that set the tone for the rest of the night. Preds knew they didn't need to be the best offense to score on the Hawk's wounded defense and inconsistent goal tender, they just needed their defense to get in the way of the Hawk's poor puck handling and passing.

I wouldn't go as far as the Hawk's "controlled" the 1st and 2nd period, there was still a lot of up and down play and Niemi was still challenged on many occasions, but there was a mark difference in the Hawk's play in comparison. Madden described the Hawks play after the Preds "lucky" goal as they "Sat back and let them take it to us," as Chicago is favored to win the Stanley Cup in many predictions, I don't think that the Hawks should allow ANY team to "take it to them" no matter what momentum is on the ice.

The Hawks were out shooting the Preds after 2, 22-13, and then after the momentum swing the Hawks were outshot 4-13 in the 3rd as the Preds scored 2 empty netters. Both teams are not known for their PP, and that was evident by Chicago's first PP which was a complete bust; both teams were 0-2 on the night during PPs. During the first 40 minutes of play the Hawks were being the more physical of the 2 teams as well with many big hits by Seabrook, Byfuglien, and even Hossa who leveled Hornqvist in the 1st. However, by the end of the game and after the Preds took complete control of the 3rd, the Hawks were out hit 31-40, another unimpressive statistic.

Many good points can be made on the Hawks first 40 minutes of play, and that unfortunately has been a re-occurring theme throughout the season. To defeat the Predators, the Hawks need to stop making things harder than they need to be, they have a stronger offense than the Preds and just need to start pulling the trigger more. Versteeg had practically a goal in hand as he was beating Rinne from post to post in front of the net and just failed to pull the trigger before the Preds were able to tie him up. The Hawks are faster and better shooters, they need to take advantage of that and realize that the open break-aways aren't going to be there against this team and just keep pushing and pushing.

The two teams meet again for Game 2 of Round 1 at the United Center. Let's hope the Hawks realize what they need to do to beat the Nashville Predators and get it done. So throw on your favorite Hawks jersey, grab a Miller Lite, and join in the chorus, "Let's Go Hawks!"

I'm ChiN8 and I want to thank you for follow Windy City Sportz make sure to subscribe to our blog, RSS feeds, and WCS In-Game to stay on top of all things Chicago Sports.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Brian Campbell Back on the Ice

Defenseman Brian Campbell Skates for First Practice Since Broken Collarbone
Photo proerty of Bill Smith/NHLI/Getty Images

Brian Campbell skated during Wednesday's practice and was even taking some slap shots (nothing crazy though) trying to do as much as he can to get back on the ice during a much needed time to help his team out.

Brian Campbell who hasn't played since Alex Ovichekin muscled him into the boards on a cheap shot during the Blackhawks vs. Capitals last meeting in March was nothing but excited about the possibility of getting back onto the ice. During Wednesday's post-practice interview, Campbell said, "taking every legal pill in the book that will help me heal faster," and here in Chicago we are saying the same thing. The sooner Campbell can get on the ice, the sooner Byfuglien can move back to his normal position at forward.

Campbell said in the interview he's been watching a lot of tapes (games, practice) and trying to take anything from it so that he can help and support his team in any way. Now if that isn't a statement made by a true team player, I don't know what is. Campbell isn't fully recovered yet, but he is fighting, and that is all we ask for. Though he was taking slap shots during practice yesterday, Campbell described his practice as taking, "baby steps," for he wasn't at 100% just yet. Campbell said multiple times in his interview that he was just wanting to gain strength, he talked about running sprints, and joked about a 30 second sprint before he almost fell off the machine. After having 5 weeks of doing nothing but TRYING to sleep, I can understand someone needing to regain some strength. 

Campbell's injury originallyprojected a 7-8 week recovery time, however, we are only 5 weeks after the hit on March 14 and though Campbell is taking it easy, he is a true fighter.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Blackhawks Fall 1 Point Short of Glory

The Chicago Blackhawks Fall 1 Point Short of Western Conference Title
Photo Property of Windy City Sportz

The United Center, left empty, only holding diminished hopes and expectations after the Blackhawks lost to the Detroit Red Wings in an OT fight between the longest standing rivals in the NHL. The Chicago Blackhawks headed into their last game of the season two points behind the San Jose Sharks and held the tie-breaker in hand. The only thing the Hawks needed to do in order to clinch home ice advantage throughout the playoffs was to beat their franchise long rivals the Detroit Red Wings last night at the United Center. The Hawks who had a 5-player scratch due to multiple injuries faced a healthy and red hot Red Wings who hold the best record since the Olympic break and ultimately proved too much for the Hawks losing 2-3 in overtime.

Hawks ended the season 29-8-4 at home and 23-14-4 while away combining for a total regular season record of 52-22-8. A very respectable finish, however, to the Hawks who went into a slump after the Olympic break going 5-9 before their last win streak of 6, they had a very reachable Western Conference Title and fell short. With only a six win difference between home & away records you may think that falling short of the Western Conference title isn't a huge downfall but the Hawks GF-GA marks quite a difference when comparing between home & away games. So everyone in a Blackhawks jersey was hoping not only for the momentum boost going into the playoffs but as well as that much needed home ice advantage.

The Hawks played a very well put together game against the Red Wings last night which showed Chicago we have nothing to worry about going into the 2010 post season even as a wounded Indian. Even though the Hawks had a 5-player scratch, the only players who the Hawks will truly be without during the playoffs will be Kim Johnsson who suffered a concussion in March and Brian Campbell who suffered a broken clavicle in March after a cheap shot by Ovichekin. Blackhawks reported yesterday that Brian Campbell has resumed skating for the first time yesterday since his injury and will probably be in the line-up for round 2 of the playoffs! The addition of Campbell back into the playoffs would be a huge addition to our wounded defense and allow Byfuglien to resume his normal position at forward.

The Hawks will face the Nashville Predators in Round 1 of the 2010 playoffs. Luckily for us, the Predators aren't known for their offense but rather their strong trap defense. It won't be a very exciting Round 1 as the Preds main focus will be stopping and tying the puck up trying to allow as little shots on goal as possible. With the Blackhawks having such an explosive, fast, and strong offense I believe the Hawks will be able to crack the line of the Preds and hopefully Niemi will be able to support the wounded defense with a consistent stand in goal. If Niemi can be who everyone in Chicago is hoping he can be, the Hawks will be able to stop the Preds weak offense as they are the only team in the Western Conference with a negative goals for-goals against difference. The Hawks outshot the Red Wings last night 29 to 21 and had 5x more shots on goal in the 2nd, where the Hawks have normally struggled. If the Hawks can keep up this trend and play a full 60-minute game the Hawks will fulfill the Stanley Cup appearance expectation they had at the beginning of the season.

Game 1 of the 2010 playoffs against the Nashville Predators will be Friday, April 16 at 7:30 CST. Game 1 will be held on home ice at the United Center in front of 20,000+ fans screaming for the Hawks. I'm projecting a game 1 win, as the Hawks will fight to ease Chicago's recent doubts of our strength going into the playoffs. So throw on your favorite Blackhawk's jersey, grab a Miller Lite, and join in the chorus "Let's Go Hawks!"

I'm ChiN8 and I want to thank you for your interest in Windy City Sportz, make sure you follow along with us during the game on WCS In-Game at;


Saturday, April 10, 2010

Sox lose, skid hits three

John Danks has a solid first start to his season

On a cold April night, the White Sox found their bats to be even colder.

After dropping their 5th consecutive opening day series, the White Sox hosted division rivals Minnesota Twins at the Cell. Although their bats have been silent for the most part of the season- their pitching remains to live up to the hype. Friday's starter, John Danks, pitched six solid inning giving up only one earned run on eight hits while walking one and striking out six.

The White Sox jumped out to a 1-0 lead early in the 3rd inning on a Juan Pierre double play squeeze. The White Sox would then let the lead slip away in the 6th inning on a Delmon Young single and a single by Brandon Harris- courtesy of an Alexei Ramirez error (2 total in the game). The South Siders were not done yet though, in the 7th inning Alex Rios stepped to the plate and stepped up to deliver a double that drove in Konerko and Quintin- giving them the lead 3-2.

The Bullpen was pitching well throughout the last couple games but was wearing thin because of extra innings the previous night, which lead to Scott Linebrink coming into the game in the 7th inning to make his first appearance of the season. Linebrink quickly gave up a run to Justin Morneau, doubling down the right foul line driving in Denard Span to tie the game up at 3 a piece.

From there on the White Sox bats went ice cold, mustering ten hits on the night with six of them coming after the game was tied in the 7th inning. On a normal day, ten hits would normally be enough for the Sox to come out victorious on the game but these hits were scattered throughout the innings without any remedy or attempt to build a scoring inning. They had opportunities to win the game, two outs in the bottom of the 7th with Alexei on third.. Gordon Beckham fouled out to first to end the inning and the scoring threat.

The winning run would come off a Tony Pena pitch late in the 11th inning- JJ Hardy singling to left to bring in the winning run in Joe Mauer. The White Sox had one more chance to tie it up or potentially win, however they couldn't get get anything going on offense when they needed it the most- hopefully a problem Ozzie fixes sooner rather than later while the division is still within grasp.

The White Sox are 1-3 this season, although it is a long season these South Siders have a lot of problems to work out before they can be taken seriously in our division- especially since the Twins are a red hot 4-1 already.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Hawks Extend Win Streak to Five

Hawks Hold Off St. Louis Blues; Extend Win Streak to Five
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The Hawk's blitzkrieg offense out scored the Blues 6-1 in the first 30 minutes of play last night at the United Center. You would think that against the St. Louis Blues, who are just waiting for this season to be over, the Blackhawks could just call it a night and play a solid defensive game and ride the win. Unfortunately for the Blackhawks, who just took over the Western Division, the game came down to the wire with a 6-5 finish. Hawk's extended their recent win streak to 5 after the victory against the Blues and here in Chicago, we'll take any win we can get, anything that adds to the confidence of this wounded Indian is great during this time of the season. 

To keep in tune with the Hawk's blitzkrieg, let's tackle these 6 goals FAST!

A pinching Keith scores the Hawk's first goal 6 minutes into the game, the Blue's Perron struck first 2 minutes earlier, game tied;1-1. Eager scored straight out of the penalty box on a rebounded shot from Kane (7:13). Bickell, 45 footer, tossed at the net, goes in top corner for his 3rd goal of the season (7:43). Versteeg scores a short handed goal assisted by Sharp after a beautiful steal (9:25). Hawks scored 4 goals in the 1st with a total time duration of 3:08, like I said, total Blitzkrieg. In to the 2nd and as they say, Patience is a virtue, Versteeg waits for it, makes a no-look backhanded pass, Ladd with a wrister, 5-1. Jordan Hendry takes a shot from the blue line, perfectly placed, 6-1 Hawks. The Hawks have scored 4 or more goals in 35 games so far this season. The first 30 minutes of the game were a thing of beauty and the United Center was literally hopping.

Some points to be made about certain players during yesterday's game were; Brent Sopel had 3 shot blocks in the 1st period, which is a recent statistic for Hjalmarsson, however, nice to see other defense men stepping up. The Blues, who are a very physical team, probably to make up for their lack of skill got their first cheap shot in on Hossa who got checked from behind, Seabrook was quick to defend him and gets into it with multiple Blues. Don't ask me why our opposition always goes for key players in our squad but luckily Hossa had a great next shift and why shorthanded, did a good job keeping into the offensive zone. 

Hawk's were throwing the puck at the net more, much better shots, more accurate passes, good positioning on offense and defense, and did a great job crashing the net trying to get the 2nd chances coach Quenneville keeps talking about. Hawk's keep improving on great puck movement and passes both in and out of their zone. 

On the other side of things, Hawks cannot convert on the power play for the life of them. Even though no one thinks of this as a big deal, but they fell asleep on the game and allowed a sub par Blues squad climb back against the Western Conference leading Hawks. Niemi had just as many good/important saves as he did inexcusable/bad goals, and when the Blues don't even have a goalie in net the Hawk's, after multiple attempts, can't even get an empty net goal! That is 2 games in a row that the Hawk's had chances to score on an empty net and missed. 

All above facts are minor in the grand scheme of things, except, the Hawk's inability to capitalize on a Power Play! These performance lacking power plays are truly inexcusable, there are not many chances a team has the opportunity to attack with a defender down and it hurts when you can not take advantage of the man adv. The Hawks went 0 for 6 while on the PP last night and it seems like the Hawk's believe they are on a PK during a PP, the Hawk's are dumping the puck more than centering/passing with a man adv. and I just don't get it but I do know one thing, that has GOT to change!

In other stats: Hawk's were out shot 26-31 against the Blues but out of our 26 shots on goal, only 4 came from the 3rd period. The Hawk's truly stopped their assault and on any other team the cards could have been different and the Hawk's easily could have lost. Hawk's were called for 10 penalties on the night which is an astonishing statistic as of late for the Hawks vs. the Blues 9. Seabrook fought fire with fire against the Blues rough housing as he accumulated 17 minutes in penalties including a 5 min. major for taking some fist to cuffs on Winchester. 

When all things considered, I'll take the win, and I will definitely take the Hawk's ability to strike fast, early, and often as well. If we can do all of this limping on one leg, I'm not worried about the playoffs (as long as were still not limping). Kim Johnsson is still out with an upper-body injury and is still, as of 3/24, listed as "hasn't skated since 3/13" on The Hawks will travel to Colorado tomorrow night, and if the season ended tonight, this would be Round 1 for the 2010 playoff season. So throw on your favorite Hawk's jersey, grab a Miller Lite, and let's keep this win streak alive and clinch home ice!

I'm ChiN8 and I want to thank you for your interest in Windy City Sportz. Make sure to follow WCS for all your In-Game needs at

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Perfect Opening Day

photo courtesy of

The White Sox opened their 2010-2011 season on Monday, April 5th on a perfect day, much like Mark Buehrle's performance that day: perfect. Buehrle didn't pitch another perfect game, however he pitched 7 solid innings with 3 strike outs, 1 walk while only giving up 3 hits- all of which were singles. As if Buehrle's performance wasn't enough, he may have delivered the play of the year already on the opening day by chasing down a ground ball after deflecting it off his leg, then flipping it to first baseman Paul Konerko between his legs with his glove then Konerko added to the incredible play by bare-handing the throw for the second out of the inning.

It clearly was a special day for the Chicago White Sox, especially for Buehrle after breaking the franchise record for most consecutive opening day starts with 8, however he wasn't the only Southpaw to dazzle on opening day.

After Carlos Quintin doubled to the right side in the 1st inning, Paul Konerko took the first pitch he saw of the 2010 season and sent it 372 feet into the stands for the first home run of the 2010 White Sox season which put the good guys up 2-0, a lead they would never relinquish.

There are a lot of new faces on the South Side this year, and a lot of familiar faces in different positions. Many questioned if all the shaking up of the roster would do more good than bad, however if opening day was any sign of the coming season- we're in for a hell of a season White Sox fans.

After Konerko gave the Southsiders a 2-0 lead in the 1st, the rest was history when Mark Kotsay beat out a play to bat in Beckham in a bases loaded situation in the 3rd and then again in the 5th. To add insult to injury, the questionable Alex Rios jacked a solo shot to center (413 ft) in the 8th inning making it 6-0, then made the final out of the game in a diving fashion- hopefully a sign of things to come for the new center.

It was a good day for the White Sox; showing the MLB their veterans still have power, their young guns are coming on strong and their new acquisitions will contribute as the season goes on.

Let's hope this is a sign of things to come.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Blackhawks Douse Flames and Clinch Central Division Title

Blackhawks Douse Flames anded Clinch Central Division Title
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The Blackhawks clinched the central division title after a 4-1 victory over the Calagary Flames Sunday night. The last time the Chicago Blackhawks were called "Central Division Champions" the average gas price per gallon was $1.07. Surprisingly, the "Central Division Champs" haven't been playing their best hockey as of late, but teamed up to doused the Flames 3-game win streak with a 3-game win streak of their own Sunday at the United Center. 

Niemi got his 5th consecutive start against the Flames yesterday, and coach Quenneville said in the post game interview "He's (Niemi) likely to be going again on Tuesday." Though coach Quenneville has not and probably will not any time soon say who the definitive starter for Chicago will be in the playoffs, everyone can basically assume it will be Antti Niemi. Niemi iced the Flames Sunday making 25 saves with almost half of them as a true scoring "chance" for Calgary.

The Calgary Flames were on a 3-game win streak as they fight for the last seed in the playoffs and weren't ready to go down easy. Within 15 seconds of the 1st period Niemi had other plans for the Flames as he stoned a 1 on 1 breakaway opportunity for the Flames. Niemi who has only allowed 2 goals in the last 2 games wasn't the only Hawk fired up for some change in momentum as many Hawk players were finally firing on all cylinders.

Quenneville described Kane as a "Weapon and a threat" as Kane snapped his miniature slump as of late with an assist in the 1st period and a quick wrister past Kiprusoff in the 2nd. It was Kane's 29th goal of the season and his 19th multi-point game. Niemi even got credit for an assist on Kane's goal as Kane brought it up from their own zone. Patrick Kane said in the post-game interview, ""I think the whole team is playing well, and it's exciting," speaking on the behalf of Chicago, it is more than exciting, it's a relief!

The Defense stepped their play up during this 3-game win streak by showing some great net minding Sunday as they hammered out some recent issues. The defense was doing a great job attacking the puck earlier around the red & blue line causing multiple Flames off-side calls, turnovers, and ill-advised passes.  One player that stood out to me during the game was Niklas Hjalmarsson. Hjalmarsson had the 3rd most total time on ice Sunday against the Flames and he made every minute count. Niklas was an absolute puck magnet in the first as he blocked multiple passes and shots by sacrificing his body as he sprawled out on the ice multiple times.

On the offensive side of the puck, we saw a definite improvement as the Hawk's shot down the Flames confidence as the Hawk's made scoring 4 goals look easy. Kopecky finally got to hear the roar of the United Center as he scored his first goal of the season while at home last night. Troy Brouwer than did what everyone was looking for the Hawk's to do more of, he scored off a 2nd opportunity and showed an improvement on net minding while on offense. Kane, then took charge as a leader for the Hawks and brought the puck out of their own zone, past the Flames offensive players, then their defense, and finally Kiprusoff and drilled a quick wrist shot. Lastly, the Hawk's showed some better passing skills as some precise passsing by Toews and Hossa led to a Byfuglien goal late in the 3rd.

It is a great feeling to start to win games again and take home the Central Division title for some pure motivation before the beginning of the playoffs and I hope it keeps getting better. While looking towards the next 4 games during the regular season Kane expressed his excitement for "The Chance to win the conference and gain home ice advantage." I share the same excitement because let's face it the Hawk's play twice as good with Chicago cheering them on at the United Center. I would too if I had 20,000+ fans screaming "Let's go Hawks!" The Hawk's travel to Dallas tomorrow to face the Stars who will watch the playoffs from home this year. The Hawk's who are only 2 points behind the San Jose Sharks who have been struggling as of late as well have a real good opportunity to take home those 2 points tomorrow. So put on your favorite Blackhawk's jersey, grab a Miller Lite, and join in the chorus; "Let's Go Hawks!"

I'm ChiN8 and I want to thank you for your interest in Windy City Sportz, make sure to log-in to your Google account and follow our blog.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Hawks Stun Devils' in a Defining Game for Antti Niemi

Blackhawks Stun Devil's in a Defining Game for Antti Niemi
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The Chicago Blackhawks take home their 2nd win a row after stunning the New Jersey Devils' with 26 seconds left in the 3rd and ultimately taking home the "W" in a shootout. No player shined more tonight than Antti Niemi who showed Chicago once again that he is the man for the starting position going into the playoffs. The Blackhawks, who have struggled as of late, finally pulled a 2-game win streak for the first time in a month. 

Chicago has only been out shot under 10 times prior to the Olympic break, but ever since, that has not been the story and is the story in tonight's game as well. Chicago was held to only 25 shots during regulation to the Devil's 30, and only out shot the Devils in the 3rd period 9-8. The Devil's held the lead, almost literally, the entire game after a early goal by Kovalchuk, 5 minutes into the 1st. 

The Blackhawks would fight the entire game down 0-1 until a slap shot by Kris Versteeg with only 26 seconds left in the 3rd tied the game up. Marty Brodeur, goalie for the Devils, played an amazing game and almost blanked the Hawks but with 1 minute and change left in the 3rd, Quenneville pulled Niemi to put 6 attackers on the ice for a final stand. With 6 attackers, the Blackhawks finally found a hole in Brodeur's armor to score a much needed goal to tie the game and bring it into OT. 

During Overtime the Blackhawks once again were out shot, 1-3, but neither team really had any good looks on goal. During the Shootout, Niemi faced; Jamie Langenbrunner, Zach Parise, and Ilya Kovalchuk, and blanked them all. On the Hawks side of the ice, it was a one and done, as Jonathan Toews represented the "C" well and scored on a beautiful, accurate, and quick shot leaving Brodeur shocked. Kane shot 2nd for the Hawks and really didn't look like the Kane we know, skating wide and shooting early as Brodeur easily glove saved his shot. Hawks didn't need to send a 3rd shooter as Niemi proved too much for the playoff bound Devils!

It wasn't as if the Blackhawks weren't getting opportunities to score, the Blackhawks had many good opportunities to score off of rebounds, turnovers, and passes, Brodeur just stunned the Hawks cold. Tonight's game was a great display of hockey, as 2 playoff teams fought some recent struggles, and finished out a full 60-minute game (in regulation). Tonight game was also the first penalty-free game in 9 years, there were some calls that could have been made, but the game played on as the penalty bench sat cold.

The biggest highlight of the game was Niemi's ability to buckle down against a playoff team and complete the job and get a "W" for his team. The Blackhawks played for the first time like a team as Chicago's best chances on goal stemmed from turnovers or passes. Almost every Blackhawks player said they are not worried by the team's recent slump and inability to play together for a full 60-minutes and tonight showed why. After Niemi blanked the Wild last game, 4-0, tonight's game only stamped his ticket to the playoffs as the Chicago Blackhawks starting goalie. If Huet were to get any more starts during the remainder of the season, I will be surprised. The team is playing well with Niemi in goal, and with all of Quenneville's talk about wanting a confident goalie, I believe Niemi is there.

Blackhawks will travel to Calgary for the last time during the regular season to play the Flames who are on the brink of catching the 8th playoff spot, and will be playing with all of their heart Sunday night. So throw on your favorite Blackhawks Jersey, grab a Miller Lite, and gear up for another possible round 1 playoff scenario game. 

I'm ChiN8 and I want to thank you for your interest in Windy City Sportz. Let's go Hawks!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

BREAKING NEWS: Alex Brown officially released

Alex Brown, photo courtesy of ESPN

Well, it finally happened. Alex Brown was released today, April 1st, in which was probably the worst kept secret this offseason for the Bears.

Brown finished his career with the Bears after 8 years, starting 127 games over his tenure with the Bears- only missing one game. Compiling 43.5 sacks over those 8 years, 55 tackles for a loss, 5 interceptions, 16 forced fumbles and 5 defensive touchdowns.

Coming out of the University of Florida, Brown had a reputation for taking plays off which led to his fall in the draft. The Bears selected him in the 4th round and quickly realized the assumptions of Browns lackluster play were simply inaccurate.

You won't find another person in the Bears locker room as classy as Alex Brown, saying this about the Bears via twitter; "I am extremely grateful for my time as a Chicago Bear and I wish the Bears the best. I am glad that they gave me an opportunity to realize a dream I had as a child. I appreciate the fans but as we all know this is the nature of the business. Bear down!"

Brown still thinks he has four to five productive years in him, saying he still thinks he's in his prime. The Bears signed Julius Peppers this offseason, making Brown expendable because of all the young talent on the Bears roster.

Whether this was the right move or not, Alex Brown will always be a Bear and we should all with him the best of luck for him and his family in whatever the future brings. Bear down!

Now, lets hope the Bears can get some production from their young prospects for once..

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Blackhawks vs. Blues Post Game

Blackhawks fall to the St. Louis Blue 2-4, fall into 3-game losing streak

Jeff Gordon, Columnist for the STL Today, opens his column stating, "Blue's fans are understandably frustrated by their team's failure to climb into the middle of the Western Conference playoff bracket this year." Well if the Blues fans are, "understandably frustrated," how would you say Blackhawks fan are currently? Every week we hear the same thing, Hawks need to have better net minding, better puck handling, better passing, better defense, more stability from the goalies, be more physical... whatever it is we need, it's being addressed but not implemented on the ice.  

The first period wasn't a disaster like the last 40 minutes were and I actually have some positives that came from period 1. As a team we were taking shots, and more than our opponent, which we have struggled with as of late, out shooting the Blue 12-10. We were getting off with better passes and shots on goal and ACTUALLY getting rebounds! I say rebounds, did anyone hear me? The Blackhawks actually had enough net minding/puck minding to get a REBOUND. That however, changed during the course of the game.

Sharp showed Chicago that there is still some skills when it comes to shooting on this deflated Blackhawks team as he sticks one top shelf off a break away to give the Blackhawks the lead. It's didn't take long before the Blue tied the game up however, and yes that seems to be a re-occuring theme in these Hawk's games as of late; hawks chalk one up but never keep it up.

Later in the first, Toews causes a turnover and had a great break-away chance on goal. Mason had a great pad save on the shot, however, Hossa got the rebound as he was skating right in front of the net to put the puck in the net behind Mason and put the Hawks up, again; 2-1. The Blues with only 5 minutes into the 2nd tied the game up with a slap shot from the right side of the ice and like I said, this is a re-occuring theme.

The 3rd period began all tied up as the Hawks couldn't respond to brewer's tying goal earlier in the period. Hawks tied the Blues in shots during the 2nd period but against the Blues who lead the NHL in goals allowed in the 2nd period, the Hawks weren't able to make anything of it.

I won't go into much detail because the 3rd period was just a heartache. With only 2 minutes left in the period Q-Stache had on the ice at one point: Toews, Kane, Hossa, Sharp, Keith, and Byfuglien after he pulled Niemi from goal... and we still couldn't score! I don't think there is any team in the entire NHL that could create a better line up than that at the time, but leave it to the Hawks, as of late, to not capitolize on the opportunity.

Niemi was struggling tonight, I don't know exactly what it was, but it seemed as though his positioning was a little off. He looked as if he THOUGHT he knew where the net was in proximity to his body but he was leaving these holes/sides of the net open the entire night. It wasn't a large hole/side, but the Blues were getting the shots in and Niemi wasn't playing the puck at times thinking he probably had the net covered. It was just a rough night over all for Niemi. 

On defense, Hjalmarrson had an unforunite turnover in the 1st which lead to an STL goal, but after that I thought he had a solid performance, he had some nice blocked shots by getting in front of the puck with his body or stick, and in one instance actually got control of the puck after his block, which was nice. The defense was getting dominated (physically) and I don't know if it was due to the lack of having big man Byfuglien in the same line-up as before due to a Q-stache line change or what. Blues just had an overall more physical game, not allowing us to clear the puck out of the D Zone or even allowing simple passing. 

The Blue's PK teams rank #1 in the NHL and they shut us out cold. Hawks had only 5 shots during our power plays ending with no points on the board. With 8 minutes left into the 3rd the Hawks had almost double the amount of chances than the Blue did (13-7) but once again couldn't make anything of it. The Hawks out shot the Blues, 34-30, which use to be normal but hasn't been the case since the Olympic break. All of these are good stats to have during a game, you would think, but in a 2-4 loss, it really doesn't help our case.

There were certain players who showed us that the skill is there, we just need to some how implement it better on the ice. Hossa's 1v2 which left both Blues defensemen on the ground was beautiful, but didn't lead to a goal. Keith's 1 on 1 performance at the end of the game against Backes was beautiful and ultimately prevented a goal, and once again, Sharp's goal in the first was a very nice shot. So what do we take away from this? The Hawks showed some glimpses of improvement in SMALL areas but when we put everything together as a team, were too minor to make a difference. We need to step this thing up TOGETHER! Hawks play ex-teammate Martin Havlat tonight against the Wild, we'll see how they do tonight.

Thanks for following Windy City Sportz, I'm ChiN8 and we'll see you next time.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Bulls finish out weekend on a two game win streak

 Bulls bounced back: finishing out the weekend on a two game win streak
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After a dissapointing loss to the Miami Heat on Thursday, the Bulls bounced back in a big way by blowing out the New Jersey Nets (106-83) and edging out the Detroit Piston (110-103) to finish out the weekend on a two game win streak. The Bulls couldnt have picked a better time to start winning and playing better than right now as they enter the week only 1 game behind the Toronto Raptors for the final 8th playoff seed in the Eastern Conference.

After being embarassed at home on Thursday by Dwayne Wade and Co., the Bulls were looking to put the past behind them in a big way. The Bulls used a hot Janero Pargo to run the lowly Nets out of town on Saturday, who started for injured rookie James Johnson (foot), posting a season high in minutes played (40) as well as points (27). Derrick Rose had a rare off night shooting, finishing 3-12 from the field, 1-2 from the charity stripe ending up with 7 points but excelled in getting others involved by dishing out 9 assists. It was nice to see the reserves picking up the slack, although Pargo did start, also seeing Joakim getting more minutes (13) than previous game (10) was also a good sign that the energetic big man is returning back to form.

Looking to build off a strong outing against the New Jersey Nets, the Bulls visited the Detroit Pistons in hopes of sweeping the Pistons for the first time since Michael Jordan and the 95-96 team did the same. The Bulls started off on fire, posting an 18 point lead at halftime. However, the Bulls had to hold off a come back as the Pistons outscored the Bulls by 10 in the 3rd quarter. The Bulls again used their bench to help assure another victory with former Piston Ronald Murray, shooting a red hot 9-14 from the field (3-5 from long distance), 2-4 from the foul line while grabbing 3 rebounds and dishing out 4 assists coming off the bench. This time the Bulls got a lot of help from Derrick Rose, who rebounded quite nicely from a previous dissapointing perfomance, posting 21 points; shooting 7-13 from the floor, 7-8 from the foul line while grabbing 3 rebounds and dishing out another 9 assist. Taj Gibson continues to be a beast on the boards as he sees more actions with Joakim playing limited minutes still.

Joakim's minutes continue to increase with each game, this time racking up 17 minutes as opposed to 13 minutes the night before. Seeing Joakim completely dominate Jason Maxiell is always good to see from an injured player. Playing more minutes in back-to-back games is a great sign for the Bulls as they look to make their final playoff push before the season comes to a close.

On Monday, the Raptors narrowly held off the Charlotte Bobcats, increasing their lead on the 9th place Bulls by 1 game. As the Bulls enter the final stretch of their season, with only 9 games left, they must be focused on playing their best basketball if they want to make it into the playoffs. Looking ahead at the schedule, this weeks games are very managable for the Bulls. Starting off the week on Tuesday facing a strong Phoenix Suns team, ending the week at the New Jersey Nets then starting the final week against the Toronto Raptors which could be a pivotal matchup as the Raptors have an easy week after defeating the Bobcats tonight, against the Clippers and the 76ers.

If the Bulls want any hopes of playing in a post season, they have to focus on winning their games and not about what the Raptors are doing. The first road block to the post-season is a red hot Phoenix Suns team on a 7 game win streak with a determined Amare Stoudemire heading the domination. The Bulls defeated the Suns the only time they have met previously this season, pulling out a shocking road win 115-104. Although the Bulls had a healthy Joakim Noah (19 pts 8rebs) and Loul Deng (23pts 6rebs) then, the Bulls can defeat the Suns on Tuesday if they play disciplined and strong defense through all 4 quarters.

The playoff push is on for the Bulls, hopefully the pieces fall into place for the post season- setting them up for an action filled summer of 2010 with a market of impending free agents keeping an eye on how this young team finishes the season.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Blackhawks vs. Blue Jackets Post Game

Patrick Sharp, looking defeated after the Hawks' 4-2 loss Against the Columbus Blue Jackets
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Blackhawks lose back-to-back games against the Columbus Blue Jackets, losing 4-2 in the United Center tonight. With Niemi back in net, I think we can all agree that we had higher hopes for him, as well as the entire team, after the disastrous performance by Huet and the rest of the Hawks in the prior CBJ game earlier in the week. And the fact that Niemi had two shut outs in his previous 3 games.

However, after letting up four goals and making only 16 saves on the night, we are right back where we started with our goaltender instability.

I will say this though, I cannot sit here and put all of the blame on Niemi, much like I do when Huet is in net (A little one-sided, maybe). I will point my finger at each and every player on that active roster. For the first game in a while, Kane hasn't gotten at least one point, and was also on the ice for three of the 4 Blue Jackets goals. He couldn't even get a decent pass off throughout all three periods of play, which says a lot coming from one of their top playmakers.

Hawks almost double CBJs in shots (Hawks with 35, Blue Jackets with 20), but still cannot put the puck in the net, which seems to be a re-occuring theme. Prior to this game, the Hawks have out-shot their opponents 60 times. This game just made it 61. They even had assistance in scoring their first goal, in which the Blue Jacket's Antoine Vermette ever so gracefully put the puck in the back of the net after Dave Bolland tried tapping it in and hit the post. A big thank-you from all of us Hawks fans.

The Hawks' special teams did their job correctly by holding the Blue Jackets throughout all four penalties. The Blue Jackets went on a nail-biting 5 on 3 power play after a Toews penalty and a subsequent one by Versteeg. Q-Stache went with Bolland and then Madden as the only forwards, both of which did a tremendous job killing the two penalties. Both players had extremely active sticks and applied pressure when the Hawks were feeling it the most.

The tides appeared to turn late in the game with 3 minutes left in the third. With a nearly perfect pass up the middle of the ice from Brent Seabrook, Patrick Sharp scored the only goal that I will give the Hawks credit for, which was shorthanded none-the-less, making it his 23rd goal of the season. It appeared the Hawks had the momentum going for them after that goal. After pulling Niemi to get the 6th attacker, the intensity level reached the ultimate high for the first time all night. But after a missed shot attempt by Byfuglien, the Blue Jackets led a 2 on 1 into their offensive zone, and scored an empty netter, making it 4-2 with eight seconds left in the game.

It seems like the Hawks do not have a lot to say about their poor play post-Olympic break (the team is 5-6-2 since then), not even from team leaders Toews and Kane. Versteeg tried to offer his input saying that the team as a whole is "giving the game everything they have to give." I'm not sure which game he was watching, as the team looked flat and deflated. There was no fire, no spark to ignite the lifeless team. Maybe Steve Konroyd is right, maybe the post-olympic toll is more mental than it is physical. But with eight games left before the playoffs, and five of them being on the road,this team better find their rhythm before they are extinguished for good.

5 Keys to the Game:

1.) Take Quicker shots boys. Also, TAKE THE SHOT. And try to make them slightly more accurate.

2.) Hold teams. Especially while leading. Teams have been scoring late, very late in periods. Does the end of the second period ring a bell?

3.) Catch the passes. But the passes must first be catch-able.

4.) Enough with the turnovers. They are just getting out of hand.

5.) We need a dependable goalie. With this comes dependable defense.

Padres vs. Cubs: Post Game (Pre-Season)

Tyler Colvin Shines in 2-2 F/OT Tie Against The San Diego Padres
Photo property of WGN &

Only 3 innings would decide the outcome of this afternoon's match up between the Chicago Cubs and the San Diego Padres. Though the game wasn't that exciting, Tyler Colvin, who was just called up to the Major Leagues late last September, showed Chicago he is defintely ready to fight for that roster spot he's been eyeing since the Cubs drafted him in '06. 

Entering into the top of the 4th the Cubs only had 3 hits on the day, two of which coming from left handers; Tyler Colvin, Jeff Baker, and Mike Frontenot. Frontenot didn't have a bad game either, but Colvin stole the spot light coming through when the Cubs needed him most. 

Colvin's hitting today got all of the attention even though Colvin had a minor glitch in the 3rd. A line drive down the right side fair line bounced away from him as he couldn't attack the ball soon enough which ended with Venable putting up a triple. Luckily for Colvin, Silva was able to grab the 3rd out of the inning as Hairston tipped the ball which conviently bounced his way for an easy throw to first.
Before we get to the exciting stuff there is one player who will definitely be feeling it tomorrow when he wakes up. Center Fielder, Marlon Byrd was on first base and taking a good lead, he got the hips swaying back and forth egging on Clayton Richard, the Padres Pitcher. Richard tried to throw Byrd out with what would have been a great throw if, first baseman Oscar Salazar would have caught the ball, instead as Byrd dove back to the bag the ball hit him square in the temple. As Byrd walked off the hit, he turned towards the camera to reveal an immediate golfball sized knot! he will defintely not be happy with the discomfort of sleeping on that side tonight.
In the bottom of the 5th, Colvin, would strike first for the Cubs as he hit the only home run of the game; a solo shot to deep right field. That would basically end the inning as Jeff Baker grounded out and Derrek Lee struck out. The Padres caught their own fire as a Triple by Salazar, a double by Hundley, and a throwing error by catcher Geovany Soto would put the Padres up 2-1. This hurt seeing as by the 6th inning Chicago had, what, 4 hits on the day? However, Colvin was not done for the day.

Here we go into the bottom of the 7th, Fontenot strikes first with a single on a fly ball to right field, the Cubs didn't want to leave Fontenot stranded alone on that desert island as Pinch hitter Micah Hoffpauir stepped in, only to ground out. Colvin, then stepped up to bat and cranked out a triple with a fly ball to left field. Fontenot scored on the play giving Colvin the RBI to tie the game and ultimately end the game that way.

In other news, Aramis Ramirez struggled greatly today, with 3 at bats ending with no hits and 2 strike outs on the day. In the top of the 4th, while playing a ground ball off third, he bent down for a quick grab and throw and completely wiffed the ball as it rolled passed him. Ramirez must have been seriously 3-6 inches off from where that ball was, and looked like something out of the Triple A league. Yesterday, Silva was awarded a spot in the pitching rotation and rewarded the Cubs by allowing the Padres only 2 runs in the game. Silva played for just over 5 innings allowing 7 hits, he had some nice pitches and then he had some, like in the bottom of the 3rd, with a man on third base, Silva pitched a fast ball that hit 4 inches before home plate, luckily, Catcher Soto was able to back hand the ball down to not allow for a steal home.

Even though the cards are stacked against Colvin for a roster spot it was a great outing for Tyler Colvin, and the Cubs hope it will only get better.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Hello Peppers, goodbye... Brown?

 Hello Peppers, Goodbye... Brown?

Sources say the Bears recently placed veteran defense lineman Alex Brown on the trading block. If the Bears cannot move Alex Brown by the draft, they are expected to release the 30 years old, 9-year lineman.

Some say the writing was on the walls, especially after the blockbuster signing of Julius Peppers this offseason.. but does this move really make sense? Why would the Bears further weaken one of the most disappointing aspect of an overall underachieving defense?

Recently Bears head coach Lovie Smith stated that Israel Idonije would move from defensive tackle to defensive end, with the expectations of young defensive tackle Mark Anderson and the plethora of draft picks that have yet to see the field.. there just simply isnt enough snaps for everyone. Why though?

Why take a chance on playing younger, inexperienced players when you have a proven veteran and vocal leader already on your current roster who has shown he can still produce at his age?

The only reason this would benefit the Chicago Bears would be if they received a decent WR in return, a decent draft pick(s) or if they used the cap for Browns 2011 season (5.5 million) and spent it on one last free agent signing (a veteran safety). The cap they would save, along with the money they have saved by cutting players like Nathan Vasher, should be enough to pry someone like O.J. Atogwe away from the Rams.. something that even the Chicago Bears players are being vocal about.

In the end, this is a sticky situation for the Bears. Alex Brown has given everything he has to the Chicago Bears Organization for the past 9 years, since he was drafted in the 4th round, and desereves to retire a Bear. Let's hope the Bears organization has a bigger plan that will improve this team immediately, because expending a proven player such as Brown for late round draft prospects (potential busts) will only waste another year of a defense that is getting older and closer to rebuilding an entire team. The window is closing for this Bears team.. Let's hope they know what they're doing.

Blackhawks vs. Blue Jackets Post Game

Blackhawks suffer worst lost of the season at the hands of Cristobal Huet
Photo courtesy of AP Photo/Terry Gilliam
Yes you read that headline correct, the Blackhawks would have been better off with Rockford Ice Hog's goalie, Corey Crawford, in net tonight after Huet allowed 7 goals on 27 shots. This was by far one of the worst defensive performances I've seen by the Chicago Blackhawks this year, Huet isn't the only one to blame even though he actually found a way to GIVE the Blue Jackets 2 goals all by himself. 

Huet was pulled in the second after allowing 5 goals, he was replaced by Annti Niemi who faced only 5 shots but allowed a bouncer which ricochet off skates and sticks like a pinball before slipping past him. Q-Stache, for whatever reason, put Huet back in goal in the 3rd period to face the music. Quenneville more than likely put Huet back in goal to try and rise his confidience level hoping for at least 1 good period out of the already 40 minute disaster. The game, however, got even more out of hand and to add insult to injury, Huet, while trying to "clear" the puck from behind the net, passed it directly to a Blue Jacket who had an easy pass towards the front of the net for a goal, TWICE!

Huet, couldn't track a puck to save his life, moved slower than molasses, skated post to post as if he were on sandpaper, and basically told Q-Stache through his performance tonight he didn't want to be goalie for the Blackhawks this post-season. I said it in the preview for the game and I'll say it again, I am a proud member of the facebook group; "For the love of God! Why isn't Antti Niemi the Blackhawk's starting goalie?" <--- and that is my final statement about the goalie situation.

Offense even looked like something out of the AHL today as well. While in the offensive zone, I swear, Hossa couldn't get a good pass along the blue line to anyone at any time. We weren't thinking, and I can't blame them, they didn't try to set up anything they just thought about being down 5,6, or 7 and only wanting to shoot no matter how bad of a shot it was. We MIGHT have got 3 shots on goal before Blue Jackets cleared it out and were on our end in no time. It was just a poorly played game by all parties, and I thought our loss to the Coyotoes was hopefully our rock bottom, boy was I wrong.

There is nothing much to take from this game except EVERYTHING needs work, improvement, and serious evaluation. We have 9 games left and can't be doing this roller coaster stuff at this time, keep Niemi in goal for the rest of the season, let him be the anchor and start building out. It is crunch time, and I really hope Q-stache will re-evaluate his statement to choose a starting goalie for the playoffs around the "5 games left" point.

It did however, bring a smile to my face to see Duncan Keith take the reigns at the end of our 3rd period PP and push the puck through the zone, grab his own rebound, and almost score. 
So did anything good come out of this? Well, the Blackhawks clinched a playoff berth with the Calagary Flames losing today, we actually scored during a power play, and....... that's about it. 
I'm sorry about all the negativity, I normally sleep on my blog for a night before posting to make sure I am thinking with a clear head that is not clouded with emotions, but this game hurts to much already and I know it's just going to be an even worse hangover tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Blackhawks vs. Blue Jackets Preview

The Low Down in The Chi Town: Blackhawks vs. Blue Jackets
Photo courtesy of

Mathematically it seems the Blue Jackets are out of the 2010 playoff picture but the Blackhawks should not take this game for granite. Chicago coming off of a huge and much needed win against the blazing hot Phoenix Coyotes will be playing the deflated Columbus Blue Jackets. The Jackets look for a win to snap a 2 game losing streak, and on the other side of the puck, the Hawks look for their first 2-game win streak since the beginning of March.

Hossa said in a post-practice interview today, "a few games before the playoffs we need to get better and better," when comparing the two games the Blackhawks just finished against the Coyotes, they did get better but is it enough? The Blackhawks probably will not be sweating the Blue Jackets as much as they did the Coyotes last game, which many Blackhawks called, "One of the biggest games of the year," but with only 10 games left in the season our defense needs as much competition to gear up for the playoffs as possible.

This will be the 5th time these 2 franchises have met this year and the Blackhawks have taken a "W" home in every game so far. Over the last 4 meetings the Blackhawks have chalked up 18 goals vs. the Blue Jackets 12 this year, 2 games ended in a shootout, while the other 2 the Blackhawks won in regulation.

Huet will get the start in goal for the first time since Saturday, March 13 against the Philidelphia Flyers. Chicago fans remember that heart-breaking loss all to well as Chris Pronger scored the game winning goal with only 3 seconds left in regulation; Huet went 31/34 in saves in the 2-3 loss.

Even though these 2 teams are 29 points apart from each other, the Blackhawks and Blue Jackets Power Play percentage is about the same. Even though the Blue Jackets are in a 29 point deficeit to the Blackhawks their 81.8% Penalty Kill percentage is quiet good and with the Blackhawks only scoring rought 1:6 PPs could put up quite a challenge for the Hawks.

Quenneville said in today's post-practice interview, "Huet hasn't played since phili game and did well and we want to get him going as well." Is Q-Stache looking to give Niemi a rest after Niemi posted 2 shutouts in his last 3? Doesn't really make sense if you ask me, but I am not really the best person to answer that question, for last month, I joined the Facebook group "For the love of God! Why isn't Antti Niemi the Blackhawk's starting goalie?"

When asked about a starting goalie for the playoffs, Quenneville said he might make that decision with about 5 games left in the season but did say, ""We might go with one guy" ... "we want both guys confidient in net." With our defense as questionable as it is currently, I can't argue with Q-stache even though I do believe Niemi made a huge statement last game against the Coyotes.

It was GREAT to see Q-Stache smile when discussing the defense's last performance against the Coyotes, however, Quenneville did say "We need do a better job clearing pucks, Knocking people down" he also said, "we could manage the puck a little better, " and ""awareness was in place, execution could be better." Seabrook played great and really got everyone pumping as Byfuglien follow closely and Hjalmarsson had great net-minding.

Kim Johnsson hasn't skated since 3/13 due to an upper body injury and is still day-to-day but more than likely will not play against the Blue Jackets tomorrow. Every game is important to the Blackhawks now, however, this game is not worth risking further injuries to Kim Johnsson.

Passing, puck control, and fewer turnovers will always be concerns of the Blackhawks and tomorrow will hopefully be a great opporunity to work on all of our concerns. The Offense always does a great job and they need to keep that going. The only thing I would like to see is our Power Play to improve and actually get some good PP goals in. Defense, as Q said, needs to keep being phyiscal, keep pressing the puck, force turnovers, get and keep the puck out of the D zone and fast. If we hit rock bottom Saturday against the Coyotes, this incline is coming at the right time.

If the Blackhawks keep improving upon their defense and overcome their multiple challenges this game will result in a win, which is what everyone wants in life! So put on your Blackhawks jersey, grab a Miller Lite and gear up for a much needed and quite possible 2-game win streak as THE Chicago Blackhawks head to Columbus to face the Blue Jackets!