Blackhawks, Flames fight for playoff berth

318928.jpg

Blackhawks, Flames fight for playoff berth

Monday, Feb. 7, 2011
1:58 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

CALGARY, Alberta The Chicago Blackhawks are taking on a Calgary Flames team thats in a similar situation. Both are looking to get into the top eight and both are looking to gain some momentum.

One difference? Calgary is where they are because theyve gotten on a serious roll. The Blackhawks are where they are because they cant seem to get on one.

The Flames have won six of their last seven to creep up in the standings, and theyre currently one point ahead of the Blackhawks, who are still looking for that one big win streak to get them back where they feel they belong.

All year weve been looking for one and a couple of times it looked like we had one going and then wed lose traction, coach Joel Quenneville said. If play consistent like the other night (in Vancouver), well get one established.

There is no time like the present. The Blackhawks have gone on a few four-game winning streaks this year but too often theyve followed with three- or four-game losing streaks. Theyre looking to play the same type of game they did against the Canucks, but with a better outcome.

You look at where we sit in the standings, everybodys fighting for the same airspace, Quenneville said. Its a huge four-point game (tonight) and we have a lot of these coming up. Its an amazing race right now and I dont foresee a change over the last two months.

Scott recovering

John Scott has joined the team in Calgary but hes still battling the flu thats left him unable to eat much of anything the past four or five days. Scott practiced early with the Blackhawks before having to sit.

I have no energy, said Scott, who added hes lost 10-15 pounds. I need to get my strength back up before I get skating again.

Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.

Three Bears necessities to lay a broom on the Lions

Three Bears necessities to lay a broom on the Lions

If the Lions beat the Bears in Detroit, it'd be a recent rarity. No, not the Bears losing, but in this long series that reaches 175 games Sunday. One team or the other has swept the season series 11 of the last 12 years (the lone exception being 2011). The 17-14 Bears win Oct. 2 ended a string of six consecutive losses to their division rivals. At that point, both clubs were 1-3. The Bears have remained at that pace since, while the Lions have taken off, winning seven of eight.

It was Brian Hoyer's steady hand that guided that win, while a Vic Fangio defense missing Eddie Goldman, Pernell McPhee and Danny Trevathan forced Matthew Stafford into easily his worst game of the season.

1. STAY COMMITTED

That first meeting was Jordan Howard's first start, and his first 100-yard game, and the rook ran it 23 times for the first of five 100-yard rushing efforts (113). And since the two Bears touchdowns were scored by a couple of players who won't suit up Sunday (Eddie Royal and Zach Miller, from a quarterback who also won't be suiting up), keep feeding the beast. He's 117 yards from reaching the 1,000-yard mark (after just a dozen carries the first three games), and another 100-yard effort would give him the most for a rookie in Bears franchise history.

2. A FASTER START FOR MATT

...meaning Barkley, not Stafford. The Bears want to avoid a faster start by Stafford and the home offense, which was held to just one first down and 14 total plays on their first four possessions back in October. As Barkley makes his first NFL road start in a dome, he and his offensive teammates need to get out of the gate quicker than they have the last two home games. Before they got things rolling on the final drive of the first half against the San Francisco 49ers, they had four possessions that totaled 14 plays, 27 net yards and two first downs. In Barkley's first start two weeks ago against the Tennessee Titans, they surrounded one 13-play touchdown drive in the opening half with five possessions, totaling 16 plays, 108 yards, three first downs, and an interception.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

3. HOO-RATIO

The Bears have lost the turnover battle in eight of their 12 games, and just twice have they won it. One of those instances was in Week 4. For a team that has just five interceptions all year, against a quarterback who's thrown just five picks, two came in the first meeting on the lakefront. And those picks were by (....wait for it....) Deiondre Hall (the rookie who'll play for the first time since that game), and Jacoby Glenn, who's now back on the practice squad. Now, yes, Stafford is a different beast in his den, and there's a completely different confidence level now for the NFC North leaders. But what if the defense can pull an encore? And can Leonard Floyd and Akiem Hicks pick up where they left off against another mobile quarterback? The Bears had just two sacks in the first meeting, registered by (....wait for it....) Mitch Unrein and Cornelius Washington.

** Finish up your snow removal by 11 a.m. Plop yourself in front of CSN, and watch ex-Bears Lance Briggs, Jim Miller and Alex Brown join Chris for Bears Pregame Live. Then as soon as the second quarter ends on CBS, log on here to CSNChicago.com as Jim and Chris break down the first 30 minutes and go over second half adjustments on Bears Halftime Live. Finally, as soon as the team's start sharing handshakes, flip back to CSN as the three ex-Bears and Chris provide 90 minutes of reaction, analysis, press conferences and locker room interviews from Detroit on Bears Postgame Live. **

Complete Bears-Lions coverage on CSN

Complete Bears-Lions coverage on CSN

The Bears and Detroit Lions square off Sunday at noon and CSN Chicago has you covered along the way.

Check out a schedule of Sunday's events:

— Meijer Bears Pregame Live with Chris Boden, Lance Briggs, Alex Brown and Jim Miller airs at 11 a.m. on CSN.

— Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois Bears Halftime Live streaming live on CSNChicago.com and ChicagoBears.com.

— State Farm Bears Postgame Live airing immediately after the game on CSN.

Important Twitter follows:

— John "Moon" Mullin (@CSNMoonMullin), CSNChicago

— Bears Talk (@CSNBears), CSNChicago

— Kip Lewis (@CSNKipLewis), CSNChicago

— Chris Boden (@CSNBoden), CSNChicago