Keeping score: Forte, coordinators and 'Dance in the Desert'

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Keeping score: Forte, coordinators and 'Dance in the Desert'

Always fun to visit Thursdays at 10 a.m. with Danny Mac and Spiegs on The McNeil and Spiegel Show on WSCR-AM 670 The Score and today was no exception.

Maybe fun isnt exactly the right word, considering the down state of matters at Halas Hall. Mac was sputtering at how Mike Tices offense continues to ignore the receiving talents of Matt Forte and Spiegs wondered if this offense and the way it blocks is really a fit for Forte.

My thought on using Forte as a receiver is that it actually has changed of late; Forte caught six passes at Minnesota and five against the Packers, which is more than one-third of his entire receiving total (30) to that point of the season.

But the bigger point, as I discussed in a previous look at how Cutler is in fact very involved in game planning, is that this is absolutely not all on Tice. Cutler, and assistant Jeremy Bates, are involved in the game plans and then Cutler also has the option of audibles, which Tice gave him.

If Forte is not getting the ball, a major part of that rests with Cutler simply by virtue of the offenses structure.

And maybe Forte works better in a scheme like the zone-blocking system that works so well for Arian Foster, as Spiegs noted. Unfortunately thats not going to happen in Chicago unless there is a complete offensive overhaul. A key for Forte is staying with his one-cut strength and get away from the jump-stop-cut that James Allen once epitomized in the Bears offense of a year ago.

Spiegs also mused on what the Bears in fact could do for an offensive coordinator if Lovie Smith is retained. Smith with one year remaining on his contract will have a tough time selling the O-coordinator job, as Dick Jauron once did and had to promote from within in the person of John Shoop.

The options could be to hunker down and live with Tice, who certainly was a positive influence on the offense under Martz, or promoting Bates from quarterback coach to coordinator. Have to think about that one.

That led into thoughts of whether the Bears can or will win the final two games, and Mac was spot-on in sensing that the conventional thinking that Detroit will be the rougher one may be off base. This will not be a dance by any means, was his observation. That would be a yes.

The Cardinals are a better defense than the Lions, and with the state of the Bears offense right now, Chicago scoring is difficult to envision.

Well see. Curious to see where things stand next Thursday after the Arizona game has been played and Detroit remains.

Follow in-game with me on BearsTalk BearsPulse at CSNChicago.com. Ill be doing the game coverage via Twitter (@CSNMoonMullin) with added info and well have other coverage folded in as well.

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Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks battle Bruins tonight on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks battle Bruins tonight on CSN

Watch as the Blackhawks take on the Boston Bruins tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Blackhawks Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.

Click here to watch the game or download the NBC Sports App, your home for live streaming coverage of the Blackhawks.

Five Things to Watch:

1. Scott Darling gets the nod.

Joel Quenneville is giving a struggling Corey Crawford a breather tonight, electing to go with Darling in the final game of the father's road trip. Darling is 11-4-2 with a 2.34 goals against average, .924 save percentage and one shutout in 20 games this season. His numbers aren't as great on the road, where he is 4-2-1 with a 2.83 GAA and .901 save percentage compared to a 7-2-1 record with a 1.98 GAA and .928 save percentage at home, but he fared well against Boston last season. The Lemont native stopped 42 of 46 shots, good for a .913 save percentage, in a 6-4 win at the United Center last April.

2. The Panarin-Anisimov-Kane line.

The Blackhawks' trio of Artem Anisimov, Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin had a rare zero points in Tuesday's 6-4 win over Colorado, but don't expect to see that again. In fact, it could be the opposite. In their last meeting against the Bruins, a 6-4 win on April 3 during the 2015-16 season, they combined for 11 points (five goals, six assists), highlighted by a Kane hat trick that put him at 100 points on the season for the first time in his career. 

3. How the rookies build off a monsterous game.

In arguably the most well-rounded victory of the season Tuesday in Colorado, the Blackhawks had three rookies that had multi-point efforts. Vinnie Hinostroza had two goals, including the game winner. Tanner Kero had two goals and one assist, while Nick Schmaltz also had a goal and an assist. It was the top-six that was doing the heavy lifting earlier in the season, now the bottom-six is slowly starting to contribute on a consistent basis. The Blackhawks will be in great shape if they can confidently roll four lines that have the potential to find the back of the net on any given shift.

4. Patrice Bergeron vs. Jonathan Toews.

Two of the best two-way centers in the league will go head-to-head, and it's always a fun matchup to watch. Bergeron leads the league with 597 faceoff wins, and is ranked fifth with a 58.4 percentage at the dot while Toews ranks eighth in wins with 473 — despite missing nine games with a back injury — and sits at sixth with a 57.5 percentage. Both of the perennial Selke Trophy candidates have struggled offensively this season, with Bergeron recording only 21 points in 45 games and Toews with 22 points in 38 contests. Bergeron has been heating up as of late, though, scoring three goals and six assists in his last eight games. Bergeron also leads the league in possession numbers, with the Bruins controlling 61.9 percent of the even-strength shot attempts when he's on the ice.

5. Brad Marchand.

In September, Marchand inked an eight-year, $49 million deal and it's already paying dividends for the Bruins. He has 14 points (seven goals, seven assists) in his last eight games, and 45 points total, which is by far the most on his team and tied for sixth in the NHL. He's 16 points away from tying his career high of 61 set last season, with a little less than half the year to go. He's also had great success against the Blackhawks. In his last six games against Chicago, dating back to the 2013-14 campaign, he has registered at least a point in all of them, scoring four goals and adding five assists. To make life more difficult, he's a player that enjoys getting under people's skin, so expect him to be a big factor tonight.

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