If the NFL would just listen to Mel Kiper, the Bears would be very happy.The ESPN draft analyst has Illinois defensive end Whitney Mercilus going to the Bears at No. 19 in both the mock draft published in his 2012 Draft Report and in his revised three-rounder on Wednesday.CSNChicago.coms View from the Moon first-round will be out after this weekend but you get an early peek at No. 19 now its Syracuse defensive end Chandler Jones, who Mel has going to San Diego at No. 18.In the second round, Mel initially had the Bears landing LSU wide receiver Rueben Randle but has tweaked that in the direction of wideout Brian Quick,who had202 catches and 31 TDs in four seasons at Appalachian State.And in a third-round surprise, the Bears would absolutely love, Mel projects them selecting Penn State defensive tackle Devin Still. That would address a level-one need with a 6-foot-5 inside force that Pro Football Weekly and View from the Moon (theres another preview hint for you) see as a first-round selection.GM Phil Emery has positioned the Bears this offseason to have options on draft days, something they havent always had. Chris Williams (2008) and Gabe Carimi (2011) were picks in years when the Bears made no secret of their premium on getting an offensive tackle.Coach Lovie Smith has voiced the annual wish for more pressure rushing the passer and that is probably as close to a true need as the Bears have going into next weekend.Peter King over at Sports Illustrated adjusted his mock draft Friday to the Bears selecting Baylor wide receiver Kendall Wrightat No. 19 and Mercilus going 20 to Tennessee. I can see the Mercilus pick by the Titans but with the options available in round two (Quick, Randle, Alshon Jefferey), taking a wideout with the first-round pick seems more than a little unlikely.Draft boards are being put into more filled-out conditions around the NFL this weekend and mock drafts begun in earnest. Less than a week from now, no more mock to it.
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.
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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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