Can Corey Crawford rebound?

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Can Corey Crawford rebound?

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville recognized Corey Crawfords up-and-down season on Wednesday. He also recognized the goaltender, who was stellar at the end of 2010-11, could return to that.

Hes going to get more comfortable going into next year, Quenneville said. I expect him to get better as we go along here. Having confidence and showing it in him would be the right thing to do. Hes a quality kid and goaltender.

Crawford wasnt where he needed to be at some times during the postseason, and two of the overtime goals he allowed to Phoenix has some wondering if hes the goaltender to lead this Blackhawks team into 2012-13. In a season where guys like Brian Elliott and Mike Smith have excelled, Crawford took a step back.

But consider this, folks: it wasnt that long ago that Elliott and Smith were struggling themselves. Crawford had a so-so season, but he could very easily rebound with a great one again.

Earlier on Twitter today, I asked tweeps a question: If someone told you when the season started, that Smith would have this kind of year, would you have believed them? There were a lot of nos, because for the last two seasons Smith was struggling in Tampa Bay. He spent part of last season in Norfolk, the Lightnings minor-league affiliate, and when he was with the big club his goals-against average hovered around 3.00. This year with the Coyotes he had a 2.21 GAA and was a big part of them making the playoffs.

And Smith doesnt get a break in the shots-faced category. With the exception of their regular-season finale against Minnesota when he faced 24, Smith faced 32 or more shots in every game since March 18.

Elliott has also rebounded. He had a 3.19 GAA with Ottawa last season before he was traded to Colorado, where it ballooned to 3.83. With St. Louis, its 1.56.

Yes, both of those goalies are doing those with different teams than where they had their rough GAAs. Then lets look at Carey Price, whos been with the Montreal Canadiens for several seasons now: his GAA has gone from 2.83 two seasons ago to 2.77 last season to 2.35 this one.

The point? Some of this years best have had their lulls.

Crawford said on Wednesday that hell look at what he did right, try to build off it, and learn how to handle the tough times better.

One (thing) is to be able to just get over that hump and keep playing, to not let things get to you and thats probably very important for a No. 1 goaltender, Crawford said. This was a year when maybe a little bit more frustration set in than should have. I just have to make sure those down times arent as long or as bad for next season.

Even with the roller-coaster season he had and it was that, for sure Crawford still collected 30 victories for the second consecutive season. But in the sports world youre always remembered for what you did lately, so Crawfords potential moving forward is up for debate.

Crawford can rebound, just like other goaltenders already have. Its ultimately up to him to do it.

Sky beat Atlanta to advance to WNBA semis

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Sky beat Atlanta to advance to WNBA semis

ROSEMONT, Ill. — Courtney Vandersloot scored 21 points with 13 assists, Jessica Breland had 20 points and 16 rebounds, and the Chicago Sky beat the Atlanta Dream 108-98 on Sunday to advance to the semifinals of the WNBA playoffs.

The Sky broke it open in the first five minutes of the third quarter. Tamera Young made fast-break layups on consecutive possessions during Chicago's 10-2 run to start the quarter for a 66-52 lead. Atlanta was outscored 31-20 in the quarter.

Chicago cruised in the fourth — setting a season-high for points — and will face Los Angeles in a best-of-five series beginning Wednesday in LA.

Reigning MVP Elena Delle Donne missed her sixth straight game for Chicago with a thumb injury but it didn't seem to faze the Sky on the offensive end. Chicago had 26 assists, made 55 percent of its shots, and Young and Cappie Pondexter each scored 16 points.

Chicago set a WNBA record for the most points in the first quarter of a playoff game when the Sky built a 37-25 lead. But Angel McCoughtry kept the Dream within 56-50 at halftime after scoring 21 points, including 10 of Atlanta's first 14 points.

Tiffany Hayes, who didn't play in the first round due to a one-game suspension for accrued technicals in the regular season, scored 30 points for Atlanta. McCoughtry finished with 27 points, six rebounds and nine assists.

Chicago Bulls guard Jimmy Butler was in attendance wearing a Cubs jersey.

Rory McIlroy wins Tour Championship, FedEx Cup in dramatic fashion

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Rory McIlroy wins Tour Championship, FedEx Cup in dramatic fashion

ATLANTA (AP) -- Rory McIlroy finally won the FedEx Cup when he least expected it.

McIlroy was three shots behind with three holes to play Sunday in the Tour Championship. Nearly two hours later, he holed a 15-foot birdie putt on the fourth extra hole to win at East Lake in a playoff and claim the $10 million FedEx Cup bonus.

In its 10th year, the FedEx Cup never had a finish like this.

McIlroy won on the 16th hole, where his stunning rally began in regulation when he holed out from 137 yards for eagle and then made birdie on the final hole for a 64 to join a three-man playoff with Ryan Moore (64) and Kevin Chappell (66).

Chappell was eliminated with a par on the first extra hole.