Time for Hawks' stars to step up

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Time for Hawks' stars to step up

There are a few things you just automatically expect in the postseason. You expect tight, close games. You expect big hits. You expect good goaltending. And you expect your top players to perform as such.

The Blackhawks have had plenty of the first two, so-so of the third and not enough of the fourth.

And if theyre going to pull this series, in which theyre currently down 3-1, out of the fire, they need a heck of a lot more of the fourth.

The Blackhawks stars havent been dazzling enough in their first four games against the Phoenix Coyotes, who have a commanding lead and could eliminate the Hawks in Game 5 on Saturday night. And as several of them talked on Friday before heading out to Arizona, they knew they had to be better.

Even if the point production, goals and assists are where I want them to be, theres always a thing or two you feel you can do more, said captain Jonathan Toews. I dont think Im the only one in the room right now; we all need to feel that responsibility. If every guy takes that responsibility its going to pay off.

Toews had as strong a start to this series as anyone couldve asked including himself after missing 22 games with a concussion. He came out with a goal and an assist in Game 1, getting the Blackhawks on the board early. But hes been quieter since, recording just one assist in the past three games.

Patrick Kane leads the top guns with four assists, including two in Game 1. Patrick Sharp has just one goal in the four games, his deflection of Brent Seabrooks shot that sent Game 2 to overtime. The Blackhawks lost Marian Hossa early in Game 3 on Raffi Torres hit. Theres no doubt they miss his presence on the ice; hes someone opponents have to account for when hes out there. But Hossa was nevertheless sputtering down the stretch. He had no points in the first two games of this series, and has just three assists in his last 10 games.

The Blackhawks have gotten much of their production lately from their role players. Bryan Bickell had two goals in Game 2, including the winner. Michael Frolik has two in as many games. Brandon Bollig, Andrew Brunette and Brendan Morrison a late add in Game 4 over Jamal Mayers, a healthy scatch have also scored.

Sharp took responsibility for his part, too, although he didnt want to dwell on the slump.

I always try to score, try to help the team win whatever way I can. If fingers are pointed at me, Ill accept it, he said. But Im not wasting time on negative energy. Ill focus on playing the best Game 5 we can.

In some cases its not for lack of trying. Sharp had 11 combined shots in Games 1 and 2 against the Coyotes. Toews had six in Game 3. Regardless, the Blackhawks need their big guns. Secondary scoring is great, and the Blackhawks will take it. But the primary scorers have to be the difference makers in this series.

Or in this case, they have to be the series extenders.

Some nights its like that. Other nights (you shoot) one or two shots and they go in, Toews said. Ive said it many times before: as a captain credit when things go well but youre going to be the guy in the middle of it when things are going south. Were in a tough position as a team, in the series, thats the way it is. I want to bring a little extra effort to help us get over the hump.

White Sox: No timeframe for Zach Putnam, surgery an option

White Sox: No timeframe for Zach Putnam, surgery an option

Zach Putnam is weighing his options after he had a second opinion on Friday and surgery is one of them.

The White Sox reliever went on the disabled list Tuesday with ulnar neuritis in his right elbow. Putnam, who has a 2.30 ERA in 25 games this season, last pitched on Sunday in Cleveland.

“(Surgery is) possible,” general manager Rick Hahn said. “But again, we are exploring all the options. We want to make sure we have all the possibilities laid out before us. It’s just one of the things we are considering.”

“Still parceling through the options and at this point we don’t have a specific timeframe for him.”

The White Sox bullpen already is short-handed after losing Jake Petricka to potentially season-ending hip surgery earlier this month. Daniel Webb is out for the season after he had reconstructive elbow surgery earlier this month.

The White Sox bullpen currently features three rookies as result of those injuries and manager Robin Ventura doesn’t see any way of avoiding using them in key spots. Michael Ynoa and Chris Beck both got in and out of trouble and earned holds in Boston.

“We’re gonna have to find a way to get nine innings in and they’re gonna get tested,” Ventura said. “I thought Michael did a nice job the other day. I think even Beck after the first hitter, it could have been a mess. I thought he really showed what he’s made of by coming back. He gave up the sac fly and that was it.”

Blackhawks deal Andrew Shaw to Montreal for two draft picks

Blackhawks deal Andrew Shaw to Montreal for two draft picks

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Andrew Shaw had to wait until his third go-around in the NHL Draft before he was selected by the Blackhawks. Two Stanley Cups later, he became a big part of this group.

Like several before him, he said he wanted to stay here. Like several before him, it didn’t happen.

Shaw was traded to the Montreal Canadiens for two second-round selections, as the NHL Draft began on Friday. The forward was going to become a restricted free agent next Friday. And while both sides said they hoped to find a deal to keep Shaw in Chicago, the deal didn’t come.

The Blackhawks get two second-round picks, the 39th and 45th overall selections, in this draft. That now gives them 10 selections in this draft.

Coach Joel Quenneville talked of Shaw’s importance to the team prior to the draft’s start on Friday. His grittiness made him a fan favorite, and Shaw was someone the Blackhawks could always rely on to be that net-front presence.

“He’s one of those players that you appreciate and he’s so versatile and the intangibles jump off the page when we’re talking about him,” Quenneville said. “It’s a situation where players are in some situations where contracts need to be signed and his importance, contributions we’ve seen over the years has been pretty amazing for us.”

Whether it came down to a big money gap between the two parties, as it did with the Blackhawks and Brandon Saad last year, or something else isn’t known yet. Stan Bowman will likely talk following the first round’s conclusion.

Shaw talked in April of how much he wanted to stay here. At the time, it seemed unlikely, considering the Blackhawks’ cap issues. But after Bryan Bickell and Teuvo Teravainen were traded more than a week ago, freeing up more than $4 million in cap space, it seemed more likely Shaw would stay. But he won’t.

Jose Abreu out of White Sox lineup with sore leg

Jose Abreu out of White Sox lineup with sore leg

The White Sox held Jose Abreu out of the lineup on Friday and they’re hopeful it will be enough time for his sore leg to heal.

Manager Robin Ventura said Abreu -- who has a .997 OPS in June with five home runs and 20 RBIs in 89 plate appearances -- has experienced tightness in the back of his right leg, “but his left leg is the one that’s really sore,” he said. While Abreu could be used as a pinch hitter, Ventura said the absence is mandatory.

“He definitely needs (a day off) today -- he needs to be able to stay off it and not even DH,” Ventura said. “He’s a big guy. That’s part of the some of the stuff we’ve done the last couple of years is to get him a day here and there and in this one, he just needs it. He’s been on base quite a bit and as sore as his leg feels, it also looks not too good, either.”

Abreu agrees with Ventura’s call as he sees it geared toward the big picture. The first baseman could be seen limping some during Thursday’s contest, one day after he was hit in the leg by a pitch.

“Sometimes your legs are getting tired and your hamstring is getting tight and you need a break,” Abreu said through an interpreter. “Today is a break for me. I came early, I did all my treatments. So far, so good for now. But, yes, I needed this day off.

“You always want to play, but sometimes you also have to realize that the best thing you can do is just to take a break thinking of the future.”

Todd Frazier started at first base for the White Sox and Tyler Saladino was at third with Abreu out of the lineup for only the second time all season.