What's the Bears' record? Don't worry, Lovie has you covered

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What's the Bears' record? Don't worry, Lovie has you covered

In case anyone was forgetting, during the span of about 11 minutes of time at the podium on Wednesday, coach Lovie Smith saw fit to mention that the Bears are 8-5. Not that anyone asked what the record was, but

The sense here is that Smith likely has mentioned that as many or more times to his players and coaches. Hes not mentioning that theyve lost four of their last five games. Hes not mentioning that the Bears need to win some or all of their final three games to reach the postseason. Hes not reminding his team that its lost to the Green Bay Packers five straight times.

MORE: Bears need to break Packers' 'hex' over Cutler

The public, or at least a large portion of it, doesnt need to be convinced that the Bears are 8-5. As for the Bears themselves, however

Wide receiver Brandon Marshall came in for his weeklyWednesday chat with the media carrying a Christmas twig, nicely decorated and with a recording of jazz legend Vince Guaraldis A Charlie Brown Christmas playing.

READ: Brandon Marshall on GB: "This is personal."

Marshall, like Smith, was sending a message to more than those in the Halas Hall press room. It isnt the media who need to believe that the Bears are an 8-5 football team.

Well, yeah, metaphorically, our season looks like this tree right now where were standing, Marshall began. Barren. Ugly.

But theres still hope. As a kid, it doesnt matter how your Christmas tree looks. Youre still waiting for Christmas Day. You have hopes and dreams that Santas going to bring you those things you ask for. Its always a possibility.

Where we stand today, our goal is to win the NFC championship, beat the Green Bay Packers, win the Super Bowl. All of that still can be under this Christmas tree. Whenever youre down, youve got to try to create some type of balance, so this is a perfect little thing for me to keep me going.

In that direction as well:

The normal NFL players week begins in earnest with a full practice on Wednesday. This is anything but a normal week for the Bears, however.

With injuries taking down members of every position group, Smith changed to a second practice session in sweats rather than a practice in some form of uniform.

We have a lot of guys banged up today, and just felt like we could get more work done, meetings, Smith said. Just felt like another day to heal up would benefit us more than trying to go out there and having guys double up on a lot of things.

But the Bears need to heal more than just physical bruises.

The locker room in Minnesota, after a fourth loss in five games, was somber in ways indicative of more than just the after effects of one loss. More like a fourth in five games.

MORE: Barring meltdown, franchise history says Lovie stays

Thats why I think we need to relax a little bit, said offensive coordinator Mike Tice. I dont know why guysIm hoping its not me putting stress on them. I try to keep it loose and have fun.

But at a certain point, we have to look at every reason why guys arent relaxing and making those plays, because they make them in practice. Practices have been sound and sharp, and no balls on the ground in practice.

Fast Break Morning Update: Jonathan Toews powers Blackhawks past Canucks

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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.