Gibbs will miss 4-6 months

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Gibbs will miss 4-6 months

Its a good thing Arne Friedrich, the veteran German defender, is ready to play. The Fire needs him badly now, following Tuesdays surprise announcement that central defender Cory Gibbs will be sidelined 4-6 months following knee surgery.

Gibbs went down during a training session last week and sat out Saturdays friendly against the University of Louisville at Toyota Park, the match in which Friedrich made his Fire debut. Club staffers waited until after Tuesdays surgery at Glenbrook Hospital to release word on Gibbs status. The surgery, to repair a torn meniscus in Gibbs right knee, was performed by orthopedic surgeon Dr. Jason Koh of NorthShore Medical Group.

"The last couple days, after hearing about the injury, was basically another low point in my life, said Gibbs, in a statement released by the team. "With the support from my wife, family and teammates and with prayer, I definitely have a more positive outlook. Ive dealt with injuries in the past and have come back to perform at a high level. I hate missing training and contributing in games, so from the first day after the operation Im going to do everything I can to get back as soon as possible."

Gibbs, 32, was a mainstay in the back last season, his first with the Fire. With 19 caps for the U.S. national team, Gibbs was the Fires Defender of the Year in 2011 and scored a memorable goal against Englands Manchester United in a friendly at sold out Soldier Field. Along the way Gibbs also served as a mentor for Jalil Anibaba in his rookie season.

Anibaba played beside Gibbs in the center of the four-man back line in the first three games of this campaign, with Gibbs on the field every minute. Friedrich will move into a center back spot now, but declared himself only 70 percent fit after playing 88 minutes in the Fires 1-0 win over the Louisville collegians.

If a replacement is needed for either Anibaba or Friedrich in Sundays home match against the Houston Dynamo, the logical player off the bench would be Austin Berry. The Fires first-round selection (ninth overall) in Januarys SuperDraft, Berry has yet to play in a Major League Soccer match.

Last season the Fire was deep at the center back position, with Gibbs having Josip Mikulic, Yamith Cuesta and Anibaba as available partners. Family issues kept Mikulic from rejoining the Fire for this season, and contract issues led to Cuesta leaving the club.

Anibaba started as the right back in his rookie season, but coach Frank Klopas preferred him more in the center after the acquisition of Dan Gargan in a trade with Toronto FC late in the campaign. Gargan will start on the right on Sunday, assuming a sprained toe on his left foot has healed. That injury kept Gargan out of the Fires last MLS game -- a 2-0 loss at Colorado on April 1 -- and he only jogged on the sidelines during Saturdays friendly.

The starter on the left side will again be Gonzalo Segares. In his eighth season with the Fire, Segares will make his 151st regular season appearance, tying him with Jim Curtin for ninth all-time on the Fires career games-played list.

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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 25 of 27 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.