Deng's wrist injury could affect 2012-13 season

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Deng's wrist injury could affect 2012-13 season

Watching Luol Deng try to play through a torn ligament in his left wrist, you have to admire his courage and dedication to his team. Question is, did Luol make the right decision by delaying surgery to repair the damage?

Initial reports had Deng needing somewhere between 3-4 months to fully recover and rehab the injury, which probably would have allowed him to return to action in mid-May, around the start of the second round of the playoffs. But Deng knew the Bulls had the look of a title contender and wanted to do whatever he could to contribute.

At times, Deng has looked like his old self, hitting clutch mid-range jump shots and playing his usual lock-down defense. But at other times, hes been reduced to a one-handed player who cant attack the basket like he did early in the season, and is prone to long streaks of cold shooting.

At this point, theres no choice but to play on, and Deng will give it everything he has in upcoming playoff battles against the likes of Carmelo Anthony, Paul Pierce, LeBron James, and hopefully, Kevin Durant. But then comes another big decision: will Deng still need surgery to repair the damage to his left wrist, and if he does, will he wait until after the Olympics in August?

Deng is the face of basketball in England, where he spent most of his childhood. He desperately wants to represent his country in the upcoming London games, and is unlikely to agree to having any type of surgical procedure before the games are completed.

Theres also the question of whether surgery will be absolutely necessary. Some ligaments will heal on their own over time, and doctors really arent sure how Luols wrist will look after going through the NBA playoffs and the Olympics. But if Deng does need surgery sometime in September, he could easily miss the first two months of the next NBA season, something that has to be troubling to Bulls management.

Nothing has been decided at this point, but it certainly puts even more importance on the Bulls upcoming playoff run. With Derrick Rose battling through an injury-plagued season (and also hoping to play in the Summer Olympics), and Deng possibly needing wrist surgery, the Bulls title window might not be as wide open as it looked just a few months ago.

Miami has looked vulnerable at times, and the West appears wide open, so the Bulls' best chance at a title might be right now. If Rose and Deng were completely healthy, the Bulls would probably enter the postseason as favorites.

But now, injuries could play a critical role in deciding the next NBA champion, and the Bulls All-Stars might still be on the mend when the 2012-13 season tips off in November.

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Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks battle Bruins tonight on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks battle Bruins tonight on CSN

Watch as the Blackhawks take on the Boston Bruins tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Blackhawks Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.

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Five Things to Watch:

1. Scott Darling gets the nod.

Joel Quenneville is giving a struggling Corey Crawford a breather tonight, electing to go with Darling in the final game of the father's road trip. Darling is 11-4-2 with a 2.34 goals against average, .924 save percentage and one shutout in 20 games this season. His numbers aren't as great on the road, where he is 4-2-1 with a 2.83 GAA and .901 save percentage compared to a 7-2-1 record with a 1.98 GAA and .928 save percentage at home, but he fared well against Boston last season. The Lemont native stopped 42 of 46 shots, good for a .913 save percentage, in a 6-4 win at the United Center last April.

2. The Panarin-Anisimov-Kane line.

The Blackhawks' trio of Artem Anisimov, Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin had a rare zero points in Tuesday's 6-4 win over Colorado, but don't expect to see that again. In fact, it could be the opposite. In their last meeting against the Bruins, a 6-4 win on April 3 during the 2015-16 season, they combined for 11 points (five goals, six assists), highlighted by a Kane hat trick that put him at 100 points on the season for the first time in his career. 

3. How the rookies build off a monsterous game.

In arguably the most well-rounded victory of the season Tuesday in Colorado, the Blackhawks had three rookies that had multi-point efforts. Vinnie Hinostroza had two goals, including the game winner. Tanner Kero had two goals and one assist, while Nick Schmaltz also had a goal and an assist. It was the top-six that was doing the heavy lifting earlier in the season, now the bottom-six is slowly starting to contribute on a consistent basis. The Blackhawks will be in great shape if they can confidently roll four lines that have the potential to find the back of the net on any given shift.

4. Patrice Bergeron vs. Jonathan Toews.

Two of the best two-way centers in the league will go head-to-head, and it's always a fun matchup to watch. Bergeron leads the league with 597 faceoff wins, and is ranked fifth with a 58.4 percentage at the dot while Toews ranks eighth in wins with 473 — despite missing nine games with a back injury — and sits at sixth with a 57.5 percentage. Both of the perennial Selke Trophy candidates have struggled offensively this season, with Bergeron recording only 21 points in 45 games and Toews with 22 points in 38 contests. Bergeron has been heating up as of late, though, scoring three goals and six assists in his last eight games. Bergeron also leads the league in possession numbers, with the Bruins controlling 61.9 percent of the even-strength shot attempts when he's on the ice.

5. Brad Marchand.

In September, Marchand inked an eight-year, $49 million deal and it's already paying dividends for the Bruins. He has 14 points (seven goals, seven assists) in his last eight games, and 45 points total, which is by far the most on his team and tied for sixth in the NHL. He's 16 points away from tying his career high of 61 set last season, with a little less than half the year to go. He's also had great success against the Blackhawks. In his last six games against Chicago, dating back to the 2013-14 campaign, he has registered at least a point in all of them, scoring four goals and adding five assists. To make life more difficult, he's a player that enjoys getting under people's skin, so expect him to be a big factor tonight.

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