Blackhawks ready for surging Avalanche


Blackhawks ready for surging Avalanche

DENVER -- Consider it the annual routine: the Chicago Blackhawks always seem to play the Colorado Avalanche when the Avs are surging. And that holds true again this season.

The Blackhawks will play an Avalanche team that has won five in a row, all of them coming on the road. Keep in mind the teams the Avalanche beat are a combined 8-17-3 in this early season, but five road victories is nevertheless five road victories.

So how do the Blackhawks make sure the Avs don't bring their road success home? It starts with playing their own road game.

"We should look to continue on from our game in Phoenix (on Tuesday), that's what we're looking for," said coach Joel Quenneville, referring to the Blackhawks' 5-2 victory. "(The Avs) have pace on their game and we have to respect their team speed."

Dave Bolland has his own concerns.

"(Matt) Duchene and (Paul) Stastny, a few of those guys," said Bolland. "They're on fire right now so we have to be aware of them and their firepower. Our defensive zone (work) is going to be key. And if we stay out of the penalty box and we'll have a great game."

The Blackhawks will also have to contend with Colorado's power play, which is converting a league-best 31.8 percent of its chances right now. But the Blackhawks have killed off 93.3 percent of power plays thus far, the fourth-best percentage in the NHL.

Corey Crawford will get the start tonight against the Avalanche.

Briefly: What to know about how Trevor Bauer matches up against the Cubs

Briefly: What to know about how Trevor Bauer matches up against the Cubs

CLEVELAND — Trevor Bauer is confident his pinky finger won’t burst open in Game 2 of the World Series, as it did in his abbreviated start in the American League Championship Series after he sliced it while repairing his drone. 

If that bizarre storyline is put to bed Wednesday night in the cold, damp conditions at Progressive Field, then what can the Cubs expect from the eccentric 25-year-old right-hander?

Bauer appeared in 35 games for the Cleveland Indians in 2016, starting 28 and throwing 190 innings with a 4.26 ERA and 3.99 FIP. But those numbers are skewed a bit: Bauer had a 3.20 ERA in 101 innings in the first half of the season with 35 walks, 91 strikeouts and eight home runs allowed. In 89 innings in the second half of 2016, covering 15 starts, Bauer had a 5.36 ERA with the same amount of walks (35) and more home runs allowed (12). 

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Bauer is prone to wildness, having issued three or more walks in nine of his appearances this year, including a five-walk, eight-run start against Minnesota Aug. 3. Still, Bauer averaged 6 1/3 innings per start in the regular season, averaging just under four pitches per batter faced. 

The biggest key for the Cubs’ patient lineup, though, may not be forcing his pitch count up — it’ll be getting to him early, given Terry Francona’s aggressive bullpen management means they may not face him a third time through the order. That’s where Bauer’s been the most vulnerable, allowing a .283/.338/.481 slash line (an .820 OPS) compared to a .671 OPS the first time through and a .675 OPS the second time through. Even if Andrew Miller, who threw 46 pitches on Tuesday, isn’t available, it’d be a surprise to see Bauer stay in beyond 80 or so pitches, assuming his finger holds up. 

“I don't think that finger's going to be the reason he wins or loses,” Francona said, though he added he thought that before Bauer’s ALCS Game 3 start, too. 

Gophers tight end Brandon Lingen could miss rest of season with injury


Gophers tight end Brandon Lingen could miss rest of season with injury

Minnesota tight end Brandon Lingen has struggled to stay on the field this season, and now he might be off it for the rest of the year.

Gophers head coach Tracy Claeys wouldn't comment Tuesday on whether Lingen would be done for the year with his latest injury, but he didn't deny it either. Lingen is listed as out for Saturday's game at Illinois.

"I don’t know that for a fact, so I’m not going to comment any more than that," Claeys said, his quotes published by the Star Tribune.

Lingen has played in just one full game this season. The junior missed the season-opener before breaking his clavicle in the second game of the year and sitting out the next three games. He played the entirety of Minnesota's game against Maryland but suffered a foot injury last weekend.

Lingen started a total of 11 games in his first two seasons and last season proved an effective weapon in the passing game with 33 receptions for 428 yards and three touchdowns. This season, he has three catches for 28 yards.