Field goals a problem on two fronts for Notre Dame

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Field goals a problem on two fronts for Notre Dame

Kyle Brindza hadnt missed multiple field goals in a game through the first six contests of his college career. But on Saturday, the sophomore kicker missed on his first two tries from 28 and 40 yards, leaving six points on the board in a game that wound up being decided by three.

Notre Dame was able to withstand those two misses, which were uncharacteristic for someone who has been pretty good in his first year aiming between the uprights. Coach Brian Kelly said Sunday, though, that he isnt concerned about the two misses turning into a trend.

He was just off on his line a little bit, Kelly explained. It's such a skill that you have to be right on. He's got a great makeup, mentally he's a tough kid. He's not afraid of the big moment. And those are all the things that I'm concerned with the most. I never saw a crack there at all.

He was a little off on his technique, and he knew it, and he'll work hard on it in terms of correcting it this week. He's got the makeup to be a guy that you can keep rolling out there.

Under the circumstances, though, Kelly wouldve preferred Brindza didnt even attempt those two misses. Obviously, any coach would rather see a drive finish in the end zone than with a field goal, but for Notre Dame, reliance on field goals has developed into a larger issue in the last few weeks.

Two missed field goals, those conversions -- those have to be touchdowns on those drives, Kelly said. We can't settle for field goals. I look at it and make assessments as to what we did on those drives. We had a snap infraction that put us in a third and nine situation, and then we come back and miss the field goal. Then we come back again with a great drive and a big run and we can't convert a couple of runs.

As we go through it, what we're looking for is how we can put more points on the board. Settling for field goals has really been my focus here the last hour (on Sunday) because, again, we just finished up with all of our breakdowns ... I'll go back and say we left too many points out there. We've got to put more points on the board.

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Five Things from Blackhawks-Canucks: Corey Crawford rebounds

Five Things from Blackhawks-Canucks: Corey Crawford rebounds

The Blackhawks’ starts have been all over the map this season but their finishes have usually been strong. That was the case again on Sunday night as the Blackhawks took a lead, lost a lead and regained a lead for good in their 4-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks.

This one featured a little bit of everything. So let’s just get to the Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ victory over Vancouver.

1. Jonathan Toews breaks through. If the Blackhawks captain’s confidence was a little shaken with his lack of scoring this season, it should’ve gotten a boost with his Sunday outing. Toews’ goal and three assists were as big for him as they were the Blackhawks, who needed every bit of it late against the Canucks. In his last 12 games Toews has three goals and eight assists. He’s getting there. Said coach Joel Quenneville, “it seems like he was around the puck way more and when he does that, usually good things happen.”

2. Great start. This hasn’t been written very often but it was more than evident on Sunday night. If this wasn’t the Blackhawks’ best opening period of the season it was pretty close, as they broke out to a 2-0 lead against the Canucks. The Blackhawks, outside of a 3 ½-minute sequence without a shot on goal, were tenacious and ready to shoot, taking an 18-9 shots-on-goal edge in that first.

3. Corey Crawford rebounds. Quenneville considered Scott Darling for this game, an understandable thought with Darling coming off a 30-stop shutout. But he wanted Crawford to get back to where he was prior to his appendectomy, and Crawford took a step in that direction on Sunday night. In stopping 26 of 28 shots Crawford got his 18th victory of the season and 200th of his career. Quenneville said Crawford “looked like he was in control.”

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4. Michal Kempny’s tough stretch. When Kempny has been good this season he’s been very good. When he’s been bad... The defenseman was in the penalty box when the Canucks scored their first goal and he was beaten by Bo Horvat on the Canucks’ second goal. Kempny didn’t play the final 14 minutes of the game. Quenneville, who liked what Kempny brought on the team’s road trip, said Kempny just has to work through some things. “Coverage with awareness and knowing sometimes it’s man coverage, sometimes it’s playing the puck and clearing the loose stuff,” Quenneville said. “Defenseman is a tough position as you’re growing and learning it, but the more you play the better you play and I still think he’s making progress.”

5. Brian Campbell gets to keep No. 500 this time. Campbell thought he had his 500th point against the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night but it was taken away. Well he got it back on Sunday night, setting up Richard Panik’s 11th goal of the season in the first period.