I have been away for a while watching all these Chicago teams excepth the Blackhawks self destruct. Since I last posted, the Bulls bowed out in the playoffs, which was at least a growth experience for the young players left on the team today. The White Sox pulled another Ozzie Guillen driven schizophrenic el foldo at he end of the season. The Cubs never played right and now need to back up the truck. The Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup and then proceeded to dismantle a lot of their team and will be rebuilding again for a couple years. And the Bears…. You may just read my past posts and you will have the same old, same old Bears. Lovie loved a vanilla preseason, the team started out of shape (but so was half the NFL, because they followed Lovie’s lead and refused to get prepared in the preseason) but despite no offensive line to speak of, is still in the race, mostly due to the other teams like Dallas, Minnesota, Arizona, Carolina, etc. also not getting in shape for the season. My team by team capsule is as follows:
Chicago White Sox
Bye, bye Paul Konerko and maybe AJ. Starting pitching looking good, but they can’t make up their minds on a closer and are going to let some good relievers go with no real replacements from the minors. We need a third baseman, first baseman and a bench upgrade because we are sure to let go one or two outfielders. I will wait until Kenny makes his signings and trades, but know that it won’t be real upgrades, just churning of journeymen. Until there is some upgrades, second place may even be a stretch.
They new manager looks like an upgrade from dimentia-challenged Lou Pinella. Carlos Zambrano is Carlos Zambrano, a question mark. They have a couple of good youngsters, but will be losing some veterans, have no first baseman, should lose Aramis but can’t see the forest for the trees. They need some pitching help and upgrades at most positions. Second and short look secure as well as catcher, everywhere else is a question mark. Let’s see what they do over the winter. Not encouraging right now. A new manager can only win a handful of games and the players need to play.
Our only champion. Kudos to the former gm now elsewhere for assembling the team that won. The new geniuses will have to try to match him. Let’s wait and see before we make a rash assumption.
They look pretty good so far, but obviously at least one player short of contention for a title. Boozer will help, but he will be replacing Taj Gibson who is playing as well as Boozer can. We need and off guard. We need Luol Deng to step even further up. The choice of guards in the free agent pool was iffy at best. Brewer is hopeless. Bogans was a flop in Orlando and will be a flop here. I wish we still had Heinrich or Gordon and forgot about Lebron the megamind. Playoffs will be a struggle. Maybe second round.
Watching the Bears is like going to the psychiatrist. You gotta talk it out to convince yourself to do it again. ‘Nuff said.
Posted in Bears, Blackhawks, Bulls, Chicago Sports, Cubs, White Sox
Tagged Bears, Bears Chicago, Blackhawks, Bulls, Chicago, Chicago Sports, Cubs, NBA, Sports, White Sox
February 10, 2010 11:10 AM
With each standout effort, Blackhawks goaltender Antti Niemi is gaining the confidence of his teammates and, more importantly, coach Joel Quenneville.
Playing in back-to-back games for just the second time this season, Niemi was solid during the Hawks’ 4-3 shootout victory over the Stars on Tuesday night at the United Center.
The Finnish netminder, who has primarily backed up Cristobal Huet, made 24 saves, the biggest coming with under a minute left in overtime when he robbed Brad Richards from in close while the Stars were on the power play. Niemi has won two consecutive games and has a sparkling 15-4-1 record.
Photo: Antti Niemi makes a save Tuesday against the Stars. (Jonathan Daniel/Getty)
In Tuesday’s shootout, Niemi thwarted chances by Richards, Loui Eriksson, Mike Ribeiro, Matt Niskanen and James Neal. Kris Versteeg eventually gave the Hawks and Niemi the victory with his shootout goal.
“I thoght he was solid,” Quenneville said. “He looked very poised in the shootout. His size and presence on top of the crease and controlling loose pucks around the net is something he’s improving on. We’re very happy with him winning again and taking advantage of the opportunity.”
The Hawks have two games remaining before the 15-day Olympic break. Since they are back-to-back, with Atlanta in town on Saturday and the Hawks in Columbus on Sunday, both Niemi and Huet figure to get a start. Quenneville will then have over two weeks to decide what he will do with the goaltending situation for the stretch run of the season.
“When it’s (Niemi’s) chance to play and fill in he’s done an incredible job,” Hawks captain Jonathan Toews said. “We feel just as confident having him in there. He’s worked hard and won some pretty big games for us.”
Last night I turned on CSN to see The score of the Bulls game and lo and behold – The Hawks were on. They were in overtime, with about 5 minutes to go when the blackout ended and I could see the rare Blackhawks game to the finish. They are almost never on vs.. National WGN never carries the game, and CSN is blacked out. So I rarely see the Hawks in action so I rarely comment on them. But from what I saw, I was VERY encouraged by the play of Niemi in goal. He weathered the stretch I watched with the Hawks shorthanded 40n 4 and 4 on 3 for the duration I saw. Niemi did everything a big time goalie needs to do to win a Stanley Cup.
But of course, this is Chicago! and the Hawks have Chicago management team. You know, the ones like the Bears, Cubs, Bulls, etc. The ones that decide who plays based on the salary they’re paid, not their performance. The salary says Huet will start every game in the Stanley Cup playoffs, win, lose or whatever. I predict they will play the wrong goalie at the wrong time. But what do I know.
Circus is back in town
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Here’s a note to all you gullible sportswriters who have been falling all over yourselves praising John McDonough and the job the front office was doing. Well they now showed themselves to be self-serving jokes that had to reward Scotty Bowman for joining their team when they were in the pits, all for PR platitudes. So now fire the architect of the big comeback of the Hawks for some Nepotism….kinda of how Rocky Wirtz now owns the team. In my mind this smells bad and the stink now stains any future accomplishments. Reminds me of the Bulls firing Doug Collins when the team was on the brink of a dynasty. If John McDonough can sleep at night, bully for him. He doesn’t fool me like he does the sportswriters.
Hat trick for Kane! Hawks clinch!
The Blackhawks game had a third period to remember! Two goals by Patrick Kane and Nikolai Khabibulin playing a rock that was immovable made it a game to remember for a long time. I don’t often get to see the Hawks on TV in Florida and I didn’t think they were this good! They were flying all over the ice and overcoming stupid penalties with effort, speed (that’s a new one for the Blackhawks) and determination. Brian Campbell has to be the fastest defenseman I’ve ever seen. Even Bobby Orr in his prime wasn’t this fast. The coverage I saw on VS was great (they used the Chicago announcers in the feed), but their background coverage is wonderful. I hope the Hawks can do well in the Conference finals, and if it’s this good. I’ll be watching with excitement.