Blackhawks breakdown: Jamal Mayers

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Blackhawks breakdown: Jamal Mayers

CSNChicago.com Blackhawks Insider Tracey Myers and PGL host Chris Boden will evaluate the 2011-12 performance of each player on the Hawks roster. One breakdown will occur every weekday in numerical order.

In his 13th full season, the 37-year-old Jamal Mayers played in 81 games and averaged just under 10 minutes per game playing primarily on the fourth line and seeing some time on the penalty-killing unit. Mayers scored six goals and had nine assists, finishing at minus-4. He accumulated 91 penalty minutes and delivered 102 hits. Mayers only played in three of the six playoff games, going minus-1 with five hits and zero points.

Boden's take: It was one of the curious twists in the playoff series with Phoenix: Jamal Mayers' benching after Game 3. He played his role almost to perfection during the entire regular season, missing just one game due to illness, protecting his teammates as well as anyone and guiding a lot of inexperienced linemates along. Joel Quenneville denied right after the season that it had anything to do with Mayers not going after Raffi Torres when his hit ended the season for Marian Hossa (Brandon Bollig jumped right in). Mayers won 56 percent of his faceoffs during the regular season, but struggled late and into the Coyotes series. Quenneville said he just wanted to give a different look with Brendan Morrison, who wound up playing his best hockey for the Hawks in Games 4, 5 and 6.

Myers' take: The Blackhawks, and especially Quenneville, knew what they were getting when they brought in Mayers this season: a tough, supporting-cast veteran who wasn't afraid to defend a teammate. He was the only one who did so when Jonathan Toews was getting smacked around by the San Jose Sharks back in February. But after filling the job duties during the regular season, Mayers was suddenly a healthy scratch for the Blackhawks' final three postseason games. Some wondered if Mayers was benched after not retaliating after Torres' hit on Hossa in Game 3 against the Coyotes, but Quenneville said that had nothing to do with the scratching. Whatever the reason, Mayers was out.

2012-13 Expectations

Boden: Once Mayers finally talked about his benching, he placed the blame squarely on his shoulders for "putting himself" in a position where he was scratched, without providing further details. He was certainly worthy of re-signing to another one-year contract (costing just 550,000 last season), but the way things ended casts a dark cloud on his return. His offensive output was the same as it'd been the previous three years. Mayers definitely has some hockey left in him as he turns 38 in October. It just doesn't appear, at this point, to be a second straight year here. And right now, the center depth chart reads Toews, Patrick Kane, Dave Bolland and Marcus Kruger.

Myers: Re-signing Mayers looked like a distinct possibility through the winter months. Now it seems doubtful for several reasons. The biggest was that postseason benching. Here are two more: (1) Mayers will turn 38 in the fall and the Blackhawks have younger guys (Brandon Bollig, Jimmy Hayes), who can fill their sizeedge needs. (2) The Blackhawks have already re-signed younger agitator Daniel Carcillo, whom general manager Stan Bowman showered praise (without even being asked about the forward) on the season-ending media day.
How do you feel about this evaluation? As always, be sure to chime in with your thoughts by commenting below and check out highlights of Mayers above.

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Five Things to Watch: Bulls visit Bucks in final regular season meeting on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Bulls visit Bucks in final regular season meeting on CSN

Watch as the Bulls take on the Toronto Raptors tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. with Bulls Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Bulls 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 Bulls.

Five Things to Watch:

1. Can the Bulls get one on the Bucks? The Bulls are 0-3 against the Bucks so far this season and it hasn't been pretty. The Bucks have won the previous three meetings all by double digits and by an average of 19 points. The youth and athleticism of the Bucks has been a tough matchup for the Bulls so far.

2. Containing Giannis. There may be no stopping Giannis Antetokounmpo, but the Bulls can at least try to contain him. Antetokounmpo is averaging 23 points and nearly nine rebounds per game. In three games against the Bulls this year he has averaged 29 points, 10 rebounds and 7.3 assists per contest. If the Bulls are to stay in the game, they will need to keep him to numbers lower than that.

3. Playoff implications. The Bulls playoff hopes are still alive with nine games remaining, but things are looking a bit bleak. The Bulls are a game and a half out of the eighth playoff spot, but only 3.5 games behind two teams tied for the No. 5 seed, the Bucks and the Atlanta Hawks. The Bucks have won three in a row to improve their position.

4. Mirotic on a roll. Streaky play is nothing new to Nikola Mirotic, but he's on a good run currently. After scoring a season-high 28 points on Wednesday against the Pistons, Mirotic followed that up with 15 points against the 76ers. Since missing three straight games earlier this month, Mirotic has scored in double figures in five of the last seven games and is averaging 15.6 points during that stretch.

5. Beginning of a tough stretch. The Bulls' playoff hopes could be made or broken in the next three games. After taking on the Bucks, which occupy a playoff spot, the Bulls host two more Eastern Conference playoff teams in Cleveland and Atlanta. The Bulls need to string some wins together and this is not an easy stretch to do so against.

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