Footprints lead away from Bears drafting OL at No. 19

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Footprints lead away from Bears drafting OL at No. 19

Sifting through miscellany looking for Bears draft indicators.

One recent mock draft had the Bears selecting Stanford guard David DeCastro when their turn comes at No. 19 on Apr. 26. Thats certainly a possibility; anything is a possibility.

But in the 75 or so drafts since they selected Hall of Fame-to-be tackle Joe Stydahar in 1936, the Bears have drafted a guard in exactly one first round. One. Roger Davis in 1960, No. 7 overall during a stretch when they had the No. 7 pick in four of five years.

More to the Emery point, in the 14 drafts in which he has been a player (Bears 1998-2004, Falcons 2005-2009, Chiefs 2010-2011), his team has selected an offensive lineman in only two first rounds: Marc Colombo by the Bears in 2002, Sam Baker by Atlanta in 2008. Both choices were tackles.

More to the Bears point in general, the issue isnt what any consensus says the Bears need; its what they believe they need. Emery and Lovie Smith have made positive comments about the offensive line and the fact that it gets two scholarship players back from injury in 2012 (former No. 1s Gabe Carimi, Chris Williams).

The Bears rushed for 2,015 yards last season despite losing their quarterback in week 10 and their franchise running back in week 12 (after which both Marion Barber and Kalil Bell still each had 100-yard games).

After Smith and Mike Tice tilted the offensive game planning back toward balanced following week three, the Bears had one game in the next seven (Cutler games) in which they allowed more than 2 sacks.

In the six games with quarterbacks other than Cutler, the Bears were assaulted for 4 sacks three times and 7 sacks twice.

Put another way: Maybe JMarcus Webb wasnt quite the core problem hes depicted as. And Chris Williams is entering a contract year, so motivation wont be a problem there.

The Bears likely will address the offensive line with some help by round four or five, possibly earlier. Possibly. Not likely, however.

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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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