Tuesday, June 8, 2010
By Brett Ballantini
PHILADELPHIA Heading into Game 5 at the United Center on Sunday, the Chicago Blackhawks were saying all of the right things about their pending matchup with the Philadelphia Flyers. The Hometown Heroes were talking more about the pressure both teams would feel in Game 5 than feeling that the spotlight was only on the Blackhawks. Game 5 was clearly measured as a pivotal contest, the most important of the series.
And Chicago came right out like a team on a mission, recognizing the importance of the game without having it freeze it. It was a first period for the ages, finishing 3-0 in favor of the home club and unveiling not only new lines but a renewed devotion to a suffocating puck-possession game.
The Flyers, on the other hand, were as flat as theyve been in the 2010 postseason, flopping in spite of two straight wins (no team had knocked off the Blackhawks two straight times in the entire playoffs) and all the momentum of the series in their favor. Michael Leighton, though a Wachovia Center strangler whos scheduled to start Game 6, was pulled for the second time in the Finals. Chris Pronger, so dominant for much of the series, turned in a career-worst minus-five and was on ice for six of the seven Blackhawks goals. Philadelphia couldnt crawl closer than within two goals of Chicago throughout.
Philly coach Peter Laviolette has pledged changes for Game 6, where his club is sure already to be buoyed playing a must game in its home barn. But after Chicago mentor Joel Quenneville shuffled his lines for Game 5, splitting his most potent scorers from the first line through his top three, you wonder if the Flyers have a true counterpunch. As great as the Philly forecheck has been, the Flyers defense is playing thin, with just Pronger and Kimmo Timonen playing effectively and logging high minutesand Prongs is reeling.
The Blackhawks may not wrap the series up and claim the Cup on Wednesday, but with two cracks at it, it appears the sand has trickled from Philadelphias hourglass.
CSN's Chuck Garfien and Bill Melton talk about what's next for the White Sox, presented by Chicagoland & Northwest Indiana Honda dealers.
The White Sox are struggling lately as the team has lost six consecutive games and 14 of their last 18.
It doesn't get much easier for the South Siders as they stay on the road to face the New York Mets and Detroit Tigers this week.
After once leading the American League Central and looking like a complete team, the bullpen is struggling and the team is in a freefall.
Can the team fix things to stay in the division race?
Find out what Garfien and Melton had to say in the video above.
The White Sox take on the New York Mets on Monday, and you can catch all the action on Comcast SportsNet. Coverage begins with White Sox Pregame Live at 11:30 a.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.
Monday’s starting pitching matchup: Jose Quintana vs. Matt Harvey
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Austin Jackson exited Sunday’s game after battling turf toe on his left foot, according to a club official.
When he’ll return to the White Sox lineup isn’t yet certain. The injury comes at a time when Jackson is red hot at the plate and continuing to make big plays in the outfield.
Jackson, who finished 1-for-3 Sunday with a sac fly and two RBIs, has produced a .464/.500/.607 slash line in his last eight games.
The center fielder has been so good at the plate that White Sox manager Robin Ventura has batted him in the second spot in the lineup two days in a row. With Melky Cabrera needed for the middle of the lineup, Jackson has been Ventura’s best option. He entered Sunday with a team-high .697 OPS hitting second.
“I like Melky there, too,” Ventura said. “But (Jackson’s) at-bats have been better. Walking, fouling pitches off, getting on, he’s looked good up there.”
Jackson also turned in a sterling defensive play in the first inning as he made an over-the-shoulder catch to rob Kendrys Morales of extra bases. Jackson then fired a perfect strike to Tyler Saladino, whose relay to first doubled off Eric Hosmer.
Outfielder Adam Eaton has credited much of Jackson’s communication and defensive skills to his own improvement in right field.