Blackhawks’ Niemi continues to impress


February 10, 2010 11:10 AM
niemi-daniel.JPG

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.

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Bears search hits snag or 2

via Bears search hits snag or 2 :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Bears.

The Bears are not really looking for a real coordinator. They are waiting for someone desperate enough to take the job. They are waiting for the suckers in the press to tell them more names because they are clueless on their own. I won’t even waste the effort to put a picture on this post, they don’t deserve it.  I don’t know who is more gullible, the sportswriters in Chicago who actually take them serious or the fans who actually put out real money to keep them in business.

Why don’t they  just go out and hire someone with experience that is unemployed at the moment and be done with it? Because they are cheapskates. And they have a gullible press and fan base that accepts this nonsense. They are rolling in excess cap money every year and can’t even spend some of that cap money to bring in a free agent that can run a route or play safety or offensive guard.

The show they put on with these “interviews” they run really dupe these media morons who buy their show,  hook, line and sinker. If we all just ignore them maybe they’ll just go away.

Del Negro finds reports of his firing ‘just funny’

Del Negro finds reports of his firing ‘just funny’ :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: John Jackson.

Well. At least Chicago has one sportswriter who has a clue. The other sheep like to echo the saying of the day: [we need a coach that can teach Derrick Rose the point guard position] [We need a coach who can manage the clock] [Vinnie is dead coach walking] [The decision to fire Vinnie has already been made] Actually what they didn’t say says a lot about them, The same writers use reverse logic when it comes to Lovie Smith. Why? They are reverse racists, that’s why. When anyone publicly calls for Lovie’s firing, they say they are racist because Lovie is black. And when the white coach is having injury  and personnel problems he has to go immediately. (Christmas Eve?) When Lovie’s defensive scheme’s are utter failures, they say Brian Urlacher is out, so it doesn’t count.

I love it when they say that Vinnie can’t help Derrick Rose be a better point  guard. Why? Because he is white? Like he didn’t play the position for many years? Oh, that doesn’t count.

When they say Vinnie can’t manage the clock, why? Is it because Bernie Bickerstaff didn’t call the timeout? He certainly added his two cents before Vinny calls those timeouts. But they forget that also.

When they say Vinnie is dead coach walking do they explain why? No they just pontificate about the record being 11-18.

When they say the decision to fire Vinnie has already been made, I agree. BY THEM. No wonder Vinnie laughs it off.

Now I know political correctness rules everything today and a white sportwriter cowers in fear to ever be referred to as another Rush Limbaugh and lose their cushy job with perks galore. But how about some even-handed reporting like the above referenced article. And the writer is not white, but a great writer. See another article he wrote on another page on this website. I posted his article on Chicago sports because it was a great article. Fair. Even-handed. Terrific.

Kudos John Jackson!

I know I threw out some broad insinuations in this  article, and I know there are beat writers and there are editorialists. But some of the beat writer sometimes are interviewed on tv and sometimes they crow the line that seems the safest. But there is also a lot of cross pollenation where the writers go on TV and spout some of the lines reffered to in this   article. Sometmes it looks like they don’t even mean what they say. This is what I refer to. Not just their articles. But the overall gist of what becomes a jingoism and concensus.

What a mess!

Lovie lost?

Yikes! It is even worse than I thought! Even Chicago’s motley fool sportwriters are finally waking up. For weeks I have been saying the season was over and so should it be fore Lovie Smith. He has consistently been out-coached by every coach he has faced. His defense is in tatters. His vaunted cover two has proven cover no one. The Bears have no offensive line. They are making a lot more turnovers than touchdowns.  But I’ve been saying this for weeks as you can see in my old posts on this site. There is no excuse for the local writers could not see that until this week. Here are some of their comments:

MINNEAPOLIS — The Bears were awful Sunday.

This is unmistakably, unequivocally true because the headmaster of happy talk said they were.

“We feel like crap,” coach Lovie Smith said after the Vikings pounded his team 36-10.

Smith admitting the Bears played poorly is like China admitting a fundamental weakness. And hearing him use the word “crap” is like hearing Donny Osmond ask what a guy has to do to get a cigarette and a beer around here. So here was final proof that the season is not just gone, but that it’s a disastrous, washed-out affair that should come with an ark and animals two by two. Let’s be clear. Sunday wasn’t a surprise. Minnesota is one of the better teams in the NFL, and the Bears are one of the better teams in Lake Forest.

But still.

This was a first-hand glimpse of just how far the Bears are from true excellence. They looked at it up close and couldn’t possibly have recognized themselves in what they saw from first-place Minnesota. They are not an offseason away from the 10-1 Vikings. They’re a major rebuilding project away from the Vikings.

Forget what people tell you about the NFL being the incubator for amazing turnarounds from year to year. The Bears won’t be one of those stories, not at the rate they’re going

The offensive line can’t block.

The running back can’t run.

The coach … well, how many different ways can you say it?

The quarterback, when he’s not getting sacked, can’t seem to avoid mistakes.

On defense, the Bears picked their poison Sunday, choosing to focus their attention on running back Adrian Peterson. And so it was that a 40-year-old geezer with closure issues made them pay with 392 passing yards and three touchdowns.”We took our chances to see if Brett Favre could beat us, and he did,” Bears defensive end Alex Brown said.Favre is a very good quarterback whom lots of otherwise sane people wanted to see go away in the offseason. He has a bad habit of not being able to make up his mind, retirement-wise. He’s also having one of his best seasons. On Sunday, he played in his 282nd consecutive game. He went over the 500-touchdown mark, rushing and passing. Like Favre, I could go on.

But what’s the point? He has made all his critics look silly.

Oh, and that Bears’ choice of poison? Peterson might have been “held” to 85 yards, but the Vikings rushed for 159 yards. “This is the most explosive offense I’ve seen in my entire life,” Vikings tight end Visanthe Shiancoe said. Speaking of blowing things up, let’s move on to the Bears coach and general manager. Whoever holds those positions next season will spend most of their time deciding how to begin. The Bears are 4-7. Smith has said that seasons are decided in November, and in this particular November, the Bears are 1-4.

There is nothing that happened Sunday, nor in six of the last seven games, that would suggest this is a good thing.

Rick Morrissey
In the wake of the news

One of the biggest lures for the Bears or any NFL team to make a coaching change sooner rather than later is the availability of six Super Bowl winning coaches: Bill Cowher (Steelers), Mike Shanahan (Broncos), Mike Holmgren (Packers), Tony Dungy (Colts), Jon Gruden (Buccaneers) and Brian Billick (Ravens).

Just be careful what you wish for.

Would Bill Cowher have
the same success with the
Bears that he had with
Pittsburgh? History says, no.
(AP)

The record of Super Bowl winning coaches with new jobs is hit-and-miss at best. In fact, no Super Bowl-winning coach has EVER won a Super Bowl with another team. Bill Parcells (Patriots) and Mike Holmgren (Seahawks) lost the Super Bowl with their new teams and others have made the playoffs, but Hank Stram, Mike Ditka and George Seifert flopped in New Orleans, New Orleans and Carolina, respectively; Jimmy Johnson and Dick Vermeil produced playoff teams in Miami and Kansas City, but lost their Super Bowl touch.

The last five Super Bowl-winning coaches were hardly sought-after guys when they were hired. Mike Tomlin (Steelers) was a surprise pick who had been the offensive coordinator with the Vikings for one year. Tom Coughlin (Giants) was a retread. Dungy was a successful coach at Tampa Bay whose teams struggled in the playoffs. Cowher was a respected, but lower-profile coordinator with the Chiefs. And Bill Belichick was a retread.

Unless you have a sixth sense about these things — which only the Rooneys of Pittsburgh seem to have — you have just as good a shot with a Jim Haslett, who had a better winning percentage in New Orleans (45-51) than Belichick had in Cleveland (36-44) or a Dennis Green, who won with talent in Minnesota and lost without it in Arizona, as you have with a Brian Billick or Jon Gruden.

Mike Shanahan won one playoff game (1-4) after John Elway retired. Jon Gruden went 0-2 in the playoffs in six seasons after winning the Super Bowl; The Colts are 11-0 without Tony Dungy; Mike Holmgren built a winner in Seattle, but didn’t win his first playoff game with the Seahawks until his seventh season; and Brian Billick went 1-3 in the playoffs in seven seasons after winning the Super Bowl in 2000.

The Super Bowl-winning coach with a resume who should interest the Bears is Cowher. He took a team that went 7-9 under Chuck Noll in 1991 and turned it into an 11-5 playoff team in 1992 with Neil O’Donnell at quarterback and without adding a starter from outside the organization. He had 17 returning starters and four players who already were on the roster when he got there.

Cowher has had a knack for making the most out of what he’s got. He didn”t need a John Elway or Brett Favre or Peyton Manning to make the playoffs or win a Super Bowl. And he hired a pretty good coaching staff that included Dick LeBeau, Marvin Lewis and Dom Capers. If I’m breaking the bank on a guy with a ring, he’s the one to get.

BY MARK POTASH | Commentary

http://www.suntimes.com/sports/1913690,bears-first-ten-01.article

See.  These two columns finally say it. Lovie’s gotta go!

Cutler’s spark has faded -Shout of the day 11/23/2009

Cutler’s spark has faded :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Carol Slezak.

The above article is the closest to my feelings about the Bears and Jay Cutler that I have seen.  I don’t think it is all Jay Cutler’s fault the abysmal coaching staff on the Bears have created another Rex Grossman. But I do fault him that he  seems to not be able to handle the inane sportswriters’ criticism or the unbelievably bad play by his offensive offensive line. He now is  running for his life even when it’s not in danger. You can only take so many hits until you start flinching. And he is definitely flinching. He now needs a therapist as well as some decent coaching. He can do something about the latter, but he came to the wrong team if he expects coaching. This is the team that doesn’t believe in hitting in practice. And it shows on the field.

Bears make me sad..and Angry!

Bears - No chance!I am spending some time this evening watching the Patriots and the Colts  play a game I don’t recognize. I spent the afternoon away from football, instead sitting on the 18th hole at the Children’s Miracle Network Golf Tournament, which was  a display of skill and professionalism by players who play a game they care about and challenge themselves to excel at. It makes me sad to think that a great city like Chicago is represented by a group of athletes who, unlike the golfers, are money grabbing pretenders. It is just very sad.

But watching the game on Sunday night also makes me angry. I am watching two teams that have players that make plays, try their best, succeed at times, fail at times. But these teams have quarterbacks that make plays, hit open receivers and dump the ball when necessary. They have coaches that design plays to take advantage of the other teams’ weaknesses. They have receivers that run the routes and give their quarterbacks a chance to make plays. They have running backs that adjust to the defense and turn failed holes into some gains by ADJUSTING.  I guess I want to say I see pro football as it should be played. And then I think that next week the Bears are going to make fools of themselves again on national tv at night. And I become angry! Angry at the poor coaching. Angry at the quarterback who doesn’t know when to throw the ball away. Angry at watching a team not caring what the other team does, but coach the game as if they are in some dream world, made up by Lovie and the gang. No adjustments.  “We are a running team” they say. But they have no line to run behind. ” We have good wide receivers” HUH? Do you have a Reggie Wayne? Wes Welker? Randy Moss? or any of the others in this game. It is a joke. And I am angry about it.

Tracy Mc Grady on the Bulls? Shout of the Day

http://bit.ly/bao6h? I commented on this blog. Add comments here.

I commented on the blog post on Comcast Sportsnet. I am not sure this is a great idea. Here are my thoughts: I think I kinda like the idea, but after seeing him for years in Orlando I am hesitant. He is kind of a ball hog and not much on defense. Where would he fit? Small forward? Where does Deng go? Shooting guard? Will that hurt Salmons, who is a real plus? And I still get queasy about giving up on Tyrus Thomas. The worst deal John Paxon made was getting rid of Tyson Chandler for a veteran and that did not work. Imagine Tyson and Noah on the front line….. I still think Thomas and Noah are almost to that stage. I would much rather go after a guard, even a jerk like Allen Iverson.