Konroyd: Desperation factor has Hawks on a safer ledge


Konroyd: Desperation factor has Hawks on a safer ledge

The Blackhawks played their best game of this first round on Saturday night. They're mad that they waited until Game 5 to finally bring it together as a team. That's the bad news.

The good news is that they have been playing a little better in each and every game of this series. Some might call it the 'desperation factor' that has improved their play of late. I liken it to hanging by your fingers on a window ledge with a Coyote gnawing at your knuckles. The Hawks know there are no do-overs and if they let up just a bit, they'll lose their grip and fall out of this series.

But these kind of situations get your attention and get you focused. Knowing that any mistake you make on the ice might send you home for the summer is pretty sobering. There's a focus and purpose to Chicago's game that wasn't there just a couple of games ago.

Enthusiasm and energy have replaced doom and gloom. A lot of experts were looking to the core when Chicago went down 3-1 in the series. And let's face it, to whom much is given, much is expected. So without Marian Hossa, the top-3 in Chicago -- Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp -- had combined for just two goals in the first four games. But to be fair, the top-3 for Phoenix -- Radim Vrbata, Ray Whitney and Shane Doan -- had combined for the same number of goals. This has been a series that has been decided in the trenches and won with the lunchpail crew. Michael Frolik, Bryan Bickell, Antoine Vermette and Mikkel Boedker are names you don't associate with postseason scoring.

Fortunately for the Blackhawks a lot of that changed when Toews decided to make sure he got his team to play another game. So now, heading into Game 6, the Blackhawks just got a couple of more fingers back on that window ledge.

Bears numbers don't indicate 3-13, yet still lie

Bears numbers don't indicate 3-13, yet still lie

In doing some post-season wrapping up of my Nerdy NFL Notebook as we begin turning the page to the 2017 season, part of it involves compiling where each team finished in big-picture team offensive and defensive categories: overall ranking (total yards), as well as team rushing and passing ranks on both sides of the ball.

So if the Bears wound up ranked 15th overall in total yards gained and allowed, they should've finished…oh, 8-8, right? It adds to the deception of some of the deeper issues that focus on a lack of playmakers, which tied into their inability to make plays when it matters most. In John Fox's 9-23 start, 18 of those games have been decided by six points or less. They've won just six of those games. 

Offensively, the Bears ranked higher in total offense than five playoff teams: Kansas City (20), Detroit (21), Miami (24), New York Giants (25) and Houston (29). They wound up 17th in rushing offense, better than four teams who advanced: Seattle (25), Green Bay (26), New York Giants (29) and Detroit (30). And their 14th-ranked passing offense ranked better than the Giants (17), Kansas City (19), Dallas (23), Miami (26), Houston (29).

On the other side of the ball, they'd be even better off before allowing 109 points over the final three losses. Their total defense ranked better than Detroit (18), Green Bay (22), Kansas City (24), Atlanta (25), Oakland (26) and Miami (29). After being gashed for 558 rushing yards the last three games, they fell to 27th in the NFL against the run (better than only 30th-ranked Miami). But the seventh-ranked pass defense, despite collecting a measly eight interceptions (among only 11 turnovers), was better than nine playoff teams: Miami (15), Pittsburgh (16), Kansas City (18), Detroit (19), the Giants (23), Oakland (24), Dallas (26), Atlanta (28) and Green Bay (31).

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

What do all the hollow numbers indicate? A lack of complementary, opportunistic football, playmakers on both sides of the ball, a minus-20 turnover ratio, and a lack of quality and continuity at the quarterback position — to name a few. All of those playoff teams have more impact players (or kept more of their impact players healthy) than the Bears in 2016.

While some of the numbers aren't that bad to look at, and some even raise an eyebrow, there's still a deep climb from the most significant numbers: 3-13.

Wintrust Athlete of the Week: Fremd's Grace Tworek

Wintrust Athlete of the Week: Fremd's Grace Tworek

This week's Wintrust Athlete of the Week is Fremd senior Grace Tworek. 

Tworek has led the Vikings on and off the court this season. Last week, the Harvard commit put up a career-high 29 points in a win over Wheeling. 

Learn more about Tworek's success in the video above.