Bickell aiming to build off solid Game 2

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Bickell aiming to build off solid Game 2

Bryan Bickell said hell try to quell the confidence he got off his Game 2 performance, the one in which he potted the opening and, more important, game-winning goals.

After the last game, its a little high, Bickell said with a grin. But I need to ground myself. Its a new day, a new game.

Yes, Game 3 is a new game. But Bickell hopes he brings his Game 2 performance with him. The Blackhawks winger had a strong one on Saturday, tallying two goals and playing nearly 17 minutes. It was Bickells first multi-point game since March 18 against Washington, and it couldnt have come at a better time.

Hes a big body, hes skating well and finishing his checks, Patrick Sharp said. Hes the difference out there and he gets rewarded with a few goals.

Bickells current confidence is a far cry from what he was probably feeling through most of the regular season. Bickell was an on againoff again healthy scratch, and when he did play, he was very inconsistent. He started the season strong, with physical back-to-back games against the Dallas Stars. But that game was missing too often.

I had a rough season early, he said. Q has had confidence in me late, hes matched me against top lines and its been great. If we just keep it simple, get the pucks deep, out of our zone and play D first everything works out.

Indeed, lately, Bickells been playing the type of game the Blackhawks have needed all along: big, tough and very visible.

I thought he got more engaged physically in that game, coach Joel Quenneville said. I didnt mind that line. He had a more physical game, was in the puck areas. Hes got a nice shot; he made a nice quick, play on the tip on the first goal and had a good release on the second. Bicks can get hot. He has a deceptive shot.

If linemate Andrew Shaw is assessed any further games for his hit on Phoenix goaltender Mike Smith in Game 2, Bickells aggressive play and ability to crash the net will be needed that much more. Regardless, the Blackhawks need this Bickell in the postseason, the one who knows how to be physical and use that deceptive wrister.

He was at the right place at the right time, Dave Bolland said. Hes doing a great job out there. Using his body, doing the right things and playing his game.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Bulls welcome Cavaliers to town

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SportsTalk Live Podcast: Bulls welcome Cavaliers to town

In the latest installment of the SportsTalk Live Podcast, the panel previews the Bulls' matchup against the Cavaliers. 

Luke Stuckmeyer is joined by Mark Carman (WGN Radio), David Schuster (670 The Score) and Kendall Gill to break down the keys to a Bulls win. Later, Vincent Goodwill (CSNChicago.com) joins Luke to discuss the team's progress. 

Finally, LeBron James pays off his World Series bet and the entire media world is there to see it. 

Check out the SportsTalk Live Podcast below: 

White Sox agree to one-year deals with Brett Lawrie, Avisail Garcia

White Sox agree to one-year deals with Brett Lawrie, Avisail Garcia

Brett Lawrie and Avisail Garcia will both return to the White Sox in 2017.

The team announced it reached deals with both players shortly before Friday’s 7 p.m. CST nontender deadline. Lawrie will earn $3.5 million next season and Garcia received a one-year deal for $3 million.

The club didn’t tender a contract to right-handed pitcher Blake Smith, which leaves its 40-man roster at 38.

Acquired last December for a pair of minor leaguers, Lawrie hit .248/.310/.413 with 12 home runs, 22 doubles and 36 RBIs in 94 games before he suffered a season-ending injury.

Lawrie produced 0.9 f-WAR when he suffered what then-manager Robin Ventura described a “tricky” injury on July 21. Despite numerous tests and a lengthy rehab, Lawrie never returned to the field and was frustrated by the experience. Last month, Lawrie tweeted that he believes the cause of his injury was wearing orthotics for the first time in his career.

He was projected to earn $5.1 million, according to MLBTraderumors.com and earned $4.125 million in 2016.

Garcia hit .245/.307/.385 with 12 homers and 51 RBIs in 453 plate appearances over 120 games. The projected salary for Garcia, arb-eligible for the first time, was $3.4 million.

The team also offered contracts to Miguel Gonzalez and Todd Frazier, who are eligible for free agency in 2018, first baseman Jose Abreu and relievers Dan Jennings, Zach Putnam and Jake Petricka, among others.

The White Sox have until mid-January to reach an agreement with their arbitration-eligible players. If they haven’t, both sides submit figures for arbitration cases, which are then heard throughout February.