Blackhawks limiting opponent's shots on goal


Blackhawks limiting opponent's shots on goal

The first period ticked away while the Washington Capitals shots on goal remained the same: zero. It stayed that way until Mike Greene wristed one Corey Crawfords way with less than four minutes remaining in the first period.

Yes, thats a rarity. But for the Blackhawks recently, holding opponents to low shot totals, isnt. And in keeping opponents opportunities to a minimum, the Blackhawks are helping their own cause.

In their three straight victories the Blackhawks allowed 24 or fewer shots per game. The opponents werent slouches, either: the St. Louis Blues, Dallas Stars and Capitals -- who finished with just 18 shots on Sunday -- have their scoring threats. But the Blackhawks have kept chances low, and thats helped them in their latest successful stint.

We know theres enough talent in here to score goals if we focus on defense and try not to give them many chances or shots, Patrick Kane said after the Blackhawks 5-2 victory over Washington. That first period, I dont know if they had a shot the first 15 minutes or so. Its nice to have a start like that, its nice to play defense like that, and have the puck a lot.

So how have the Blackhawks done it? Its been a combination of things:

The Blackhawks are defending well, not allowing opponents much time in their zone to get a good scoring chance. Theyve also blocked 47 shots in their last three games, including 20 against the Stars on Friday.

Their checking line of Bryan Bickell, Dave Bolland and Andrew Shaw has been stellar lately, shutting down top lines. They did that with the Alexander Ovechkin line on Sunday night, and the Washington captains lone goal didnt come against them.

When shots are getting through, Crawford is stopping them. In his past three games, including his relief appearance against St. Louis, Crawford has stopped 55 of the last 58 shots hes seen. Crawfords performance last week (3-0-0 record with a 1.09 goals-against average) earned him the NHLs second star of the week.

The Blackhawks have been successful lately for a lot of reasons. Cutting down the oppositions chances has been a big part of that.

Badgers defense puts Hawkeyes on lock down in win


Badgers defense puts Hawkeyes on lock down in win

In case you didn't know it already, this Wisconsin defense is very, very good.

Iowa doesn't have the most potent offense in the Big Ten, but that shouldn't cloud the impressiveness of another shut-down performance by the Badgers, who kept the Hawkeyes out of the end zone in Saturday's 17-9 win in Iowa City.

Wisconsin allowed just 236 total yards, only 83 on the ground, and limited Iowa to 2-for-13 on third down in the victory, one that moved the Badgers ahead of the Hawkeyes in the Big Ten West Division standings.

The Badgers' offensive production, at least when it came to everything besides points, was impressive, too. At halftime, Wisconsin had 246 total yards, 12 first downs, no penalties and nearly seven minutes more time of possession than Iowa. But the Badgers could only turn three red-zone trips into seven points, missing a field goal in the first quarter and giving away a goal-line fumble right before halftime. That lone touchdown was a pitch from backup quarterback Bart Houston to Troy Fumagalli.

After the Hawkeyes had to settle for a field goal that made it 7-3, Alex Hornibrook hit Kyle Penniston for a huge 54-yard gain down to the Iowa five-yard line. But three plays later, Corey Clement leaped for the end zone and coughed up the ball, a fumble recovered by the Hawkeyes for a touchback. C.J. Beathard then took Iowa down the field, setting up a 47-yard field goal that made it just a one-point game at halftime.

The narrow halftime deficit was a huge victory for the Hawkeyes, who had to settle for that first field goal after a series of mistakes emblematic of their first half. On third and one, a false start erased a first down, and on the next play, a Beathard touchdown pass to Riley McCarron was negated when Kirk Ferentz called a timeout to avoid a delay of game penalty.

Wisconsin finally rediscovered red-zone success midway through the third quarter, Clement punching in a touchdown from a yard out after a 57-yard Hornibrook throw to Quintez Cephus got the Badgers back down to the five-yard line.

But Wisconsin had another missed opportunity not long after, as Andrew Endicott missed his second field-goal try of the game, this one a more understandable miss from 52 yards away. After a battle of the punters for the majority of the second half, Iowa got down to the Wisconsin 21-yard line with about five and a half minutes left, but the Hawkeyes also missed a field-goal attempt, keeping it an eight-point game.

The Badgers marched down the field on a 62-yard drive, Clement's 34-yard dash the biggest play, and sealed the game with a field goal. Not even a massive kick return from Desmond King, which set up another Iowa field goal, could bail out the Hawkeyes.

Clement finished with 134 yards and a touchdown, with Hornibrook completing 11 passes for 197 yards.

Wisconsin's win sent it to 5-2 on the season, the first victory in a while after back-to-back losses to Michigan and Ohio State. Next up is another colossal showdown against Nebraska.

Iowa's loss was its third of the season, dropping the Hawkeyes to 5-3. Next up is a game at Penn State.

Cubs hoping Kyle Schwarber can make World Series comeback

Cubs hoping Kyle Schwarber can make World Series comeback

As if the possibility of clinching their first National League pennant in 71 years didn't create enough drama and excitement in Wrigleyville, the Cubs have sent Kyle Schwarber to the Arizona Fall League, hoping he can add another chapter to his October legend.

Schwarber earned this chance after beating every expectation in his recovery from major surgery on his left knee in April. The Cubs haven't ruled anything in or out - and still need to beat the Los Angeles Dodgers one more time this weekend - but they want to see how he responds on Saturday with the Mesa Solar Sox and ultimately decide if he would be a viable designated-hitter option for the World Series.

Schwarber gained clearance on Monday from Dr. Daniel Cooper, the head team physician for the Dallas Cowboys who reconstructed his ACL and repaired his LCL after a devastating outfield collision during the first week of the regular season.

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Schwarber flew from Dallas to Los Angeles, where he worked out at Dodger Stadium as the Cubs continued with what has been a classic NL Championship Series. Schwarber left for Arizona on Wednesday to ramp up his baseball activities and prove whether or not he could again be a difference-maker in October.

Schwarber, the No. 4 overall pick in the 2014 draft out of Indiana University, generated 16 home runs in 69 games last season and then set a franchise record with five homers in the playoffs.
The Cubs still have to deal with Clayton Kershaw on Saturday night in Game 6, and judge whether or not a six-months-plus layoff is too long, even for one of their best young hitters, especially against what would be a dynamic Cleveland Indians pitching staff.

But the Cubs would also never bet against Schwarber.