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Posts Tagged ‘United Center’

The New Chicago Blackhawks

Posted by sportsmaven on January 19, 2008

So much has happened since we last saw the Chicago Blackhawks grace the pages of the Sportsmaven blog. Barring a collapse of the Chicago Cubs (which is ALWAYS a distinct possibility) your Chicago Blackhawks might be the most successful of the major professional sports teams that call Chicago home. The Blackhawks have come out of hibernation and have done it at the most perfect time, given the struggles of it’s United Center roommate, the Chicago Bulls. It has done so in the face of a disappointing 7-9 post-Super Bowl season for the Chicago Bears. And spring training is about a month away, so the Blackhawks have center stage and are making the most of it.

Wirtz and McDonough Restore Blackhawks Hockey

Kudos to new owner Rocky Wirtz in making one right move after another in providing this franchise an about face it so dearly needed. The hiring of John McDonough from the Chicago Cubs was brilliant. The announcement of home games on TV began the healing. Parking Bob Pulford in the Wirtz Corporation offices and reaching out to Blackhawks alumni Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita to take front and center publicity roles were long overdue. The Blackhawks are seeing a revitalization that has rarely been witnessed in Chicago sports history.

Tonight’s article is about the franchise, the new direction, the new hope, the seizing of opportunity. The bulk of the heavy lifting still has to come from the players and coaching staff, but finally, this team no longer has to carry the baggage of the mess that old ownership bestowed. It no longer has to play it’s home games in a near empty stadium. The Blackhawks players and coaches have earned a pass for this season, but yet, they are performing better than I had anticipated, and could compete for a playoff spot if several key players return quickly from injury. Hockey fans rejoice — The Chicago Blackhawks have become relevant once again.

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Chicago Bulls Absorb Yet Another Terrible Loss

Posted by sportsmaven on March 21, 2007

Tonight, I was able to watch most of the Chicago Bulls game versus the Los Angeles Clippers and at the end, I was not sure exactly what happened or why the Bulls lost to this sub-.500 team that is barely in playoff contention in the NBA’s Western Conference. All after the previous day, Scott Skiles lit into this team for potentially being too young not to recognize that good playoff teams that have title aspirations need to win games like this game and the Memphis game on Saturday night.

Bulls Absorb Yet Another Terrible Loss
(AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

The Bulls team that I watch mystified me in many ways tonight. First off, G Ben Gordon had an off night, which happens to players over the course of an 6-8 pre-season games, 82 regular season games, and if you’re lucky, more than a few playoff games. What I didn’t see is Ben Gordon adjusting his game, contributing in other significant ways, attacking the basket when his jump shot left him. Ben Gordon didn’t step up tonight and that was one of the reasons the Bulls are sitting at home wondering what happened.

Another reason to look back upon is the sloppy play, too many turnovers once again, and virtually no defense played, especially in the 4th quarter. Coach Scott Skiles virtually implied that the Bulls didn’t follow the game plan, which is absolutely amazing to me at this point in the season. The Bulls are a talented team, but will only go as far as their defense takes them. The lapses in these past two games, including losing at home tonight to a Clippers team that won only 9 road games all season, is inexcusible. Was it only 3 days ago that F Luol Deng made his now infamous proclamation that the Bulls could win every remaining game on their schedule? I believe since that comment was made, the Bulls haven’t won a SINGLE game, losing to the dregs of the NBA. The Bulls goal of a 50-win season seems far fetched. They wil have to finish 11-2 to do that. Avoid double digit losses at home? The Bulls will have to go 7-0 in their remaining home games to accomplish that.

My suggestion for the Bulls is tighten up that defense and play hard for 48 minutes. The Bulls looked like they tried to turn it on and off in this game and they are not nearly good enough a team to do that. The Bulls were terribly dominated in the 4th quarter of this game. They gave up 20+ points to three different players on the Clippers. They lost a chance to pick up a game on the Cleveland Cavaliers in the standings in the quest for home court advantage. Now they face a dangerous Denver Nuggets team on Thursday at the United Center. The end of this season gets tougher and tougher….

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Chicago Blackhawks Own The Road

Posted by sportsmaven on February 8, 2007

The Chicago Blackhawks roadshow sets down in Vancouver tonight, playing the Vancouver Canucks. G Patrick Lalime makes his Blackhawks debut tonight, after 3 months on the injured list after back surgery. Lalime wastes no time making a splash by logging a shutout, joining G Brian Boucher as the only Blackhawks goalies to log shutouts this season (oh, Nikolai, Nikolai, where are you, Nikolai??) The Blackhawks have won 4 of their last 5 games after breaking a 10 game losing streak on Jan. 28th against the Calgary Flames and the United Center.

Blackhawks Beat CanucksBlackhawks Beat Canucks with Lalime

The only other shocking attribute of this game is that the Blackhawks scored 3 goals, although the last 2 goals were empty netters with under a minute left in the game. Of course, the Blackhawks power play was non-existent again tonight, going 0-3 in that department. The Blackhawks are 21-26-7 after tonight’s game and have two strong wins against Calgary and Vancouver in their road trip bank.

The Blackhawks move past the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight into 13th place in the conference, 13 pts. out of the 8th and final playoff spot with 28 games left in the season. If the Blackhawks have a run in them, it has to start now. I believe Lalime has earned another start, as Nikolai Khabibulin wasn’t even the backup tonight and has been struggling of late. It’s nice to log 2 wins in a row….would be even nicer if Coach Denis Savard can coax some consistency out of this crew…..

(Photos courtesy of AP/ESPN)

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The Chicago Bulls DO Play Basketball In January, Well Kind Of…

Posted by sportsmaven on January 21, 2007

With the focus of the Chicago sports scene on the Chicago Bears in the NFC Championship game and this weekend’s Cubs Convention, it is easy to forget that there are other Chicago teams in the midst of their season. The Bulls played the Utah Jazz tonight at the United Center before embarking on their NFC-AFC Conference Championship tour/roadtrip to Indianapolis to play the Indiana Pacers on Monday night. I’ve been trying to hold off on a Bulls post until after the NFC Championship game, but thought tonight would provide a great opportunity to ease into a long, somewhat ho-hum NBA season. I just wanted to see if I could work both the Bulls and the Bears into the same post successfully (I use the word successfully very loosely)

The Bulls, winners of three in a row coming into tonight, couldn’t hit the side of a barn. They shot 38.2% from the field, including 8.3% from three point range, and they did it ugly. They did out rebound the Jazz 46 to 43, mostly out of self defense. Utah got physical with the Bulls, turning this game into a half court scrum, as noted by the 54 fouls and 72 free throws combined.

This game essentially displayed some fundamental flaws of the current Bulls team. The Bulls lack an inside scoring presence, and it doesn’t look like that presence is going to appear anytime soon. When the Bulls perimeter game is off, like it was tonight, it makes it difficult to stay in games such as tonight’s. The Bulls also didn’t defend well down the stretch tonight. When it mattered, they couldn’t stop Mehmet Okur, Carlos Boozer, or even Derek Fisher from scoring key baskets and grabbing key rebounds. Now the Bulls go on the road to play a Pacers team that underwent an extreme makeover. (wouldn’t Al Harrington have looked good in a Bulls jersey right about now) The Bulls are a work in progress at the moment, and it shows in their night to night performance on the court.

As for that roadtrip, the Bulls plan to leave Chicago, by bus, just after 2pm CT today to avoid the traffic from the Chicago Bears/New Orleans Saints NFC Championship game, drive the 3.5 hours on a frozen interstate to pull into Indianapolis just in time to hit the traffic for the start of the Indianapolis Colts/New England Patriots AFC Championship game. If the Bulls play more games the way they did tonight, these might be the only championships they experience this season. At least they can say they were involved in two in one day.

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