Hamilton suffers injury, but Brewer a capable replacement

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Hamilton suffers injury, but Brewer a capable replacement

After returning to the lineup after the All-Star break, all seemed well for Rip Hamilton. The shooting guard was slowly getting back into the groove, the Bulls were winning and then, Monday evening, the 13-year veteran suffered a right-shoulder injury after running into a Pacers player in the first quarter of the eventual blowout victory.

Hamilton wasnt available for comment after the game, but according to a source familiar with the situation, he left the arena with his right arm in a sling. The same source told CSNChicago.com that Hamilton apparently injured the top of his shoulder and at least early onhell be examined Tuesdaytheres little optimism about a quick return.

He collided and its his shoulder, Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said afterwards. He tried to shake it off and at first I thought it might be a stinger, but that wasnt the case.

Although the Bulls are used to playing without Hamilton for the majority of this season, the hope was that he could finally be healthy to ingrain himself into the team permanently and build upon what appears to be promising chemistry with the rest of the roster. His offseason addition filled a need, sharpshooting and his extensive playoff experience is another plus.

I hope that Rips not too hurt. We know we need him to get to where we want to get to, but Ronnie Brewer was an animal out there tonight, Joakim Noah said before humorously adding, Hopefully hell get some massages. Well call the African spirits and pray that hes all right, and hopefully hell be back on the court soon.

Ronnie Brewer, the player charged with replacing Hamilton in the starting lineup, had a solid outing Monday, finishing with 12 points and seven rebounds. While Brewer is a starting-caliber player, the luxury of having him come off the bench and add to the teams depth is clear, though the swingman admits that he relishes the increased playing time.

If you enjoy playing basketball, you enjoy being on the court, having success, having your team have success. Last game I didnt play a lot, but I tried to provide as much energy and impact the game as much as I possibly could against Philly. But tonight, a guy goes down and your role changes. Youve got to step up and do your part. I was just glad I came in and was able to play decent, and help our team out, said Brewer.

Were not too worried about it. Weve got guys who can step up and fill the void a little bit. We know what he brings to the table, we know his history, we know hes one of the best guys to move without the basketball, what he does shooting-wise. The most important thing is we have him down the stretch, healthy. We felt pretty positive about him coming back and slowly, but surely working his way, getting minutes. His shot was coming back, his conditioning was coming back. Its just unfortunate he got hurt tonight, but hopefully its not as serious as it looked and we can get him back on the court because hes definitely missed.

Added Thibodeau: Ronnies been terrific all year. Whether you start him, bring him off the bench, always ready, going to make scramble plays, hustle plays. Hes a great pro.

Some guys have a hard time coming off the bench because when youre coming in off the bench, your motor has to be running. Its a much more difficult job at times because youve got to get going quickly and he has the ability to do that. It doesnt take a long time, it doesnt take five minutes to get into the flow of the game. He can start instantaneously and if you start him, hes fine. If you bring him off the bench, hes fine. He just plays.

Five Things from Blackhawks-Canucks: Corey Crawford rebounds

Five Things from Blackhawks-Canucks: Corey Crawford rebounds

The Blackhawks’ starts have been all over the map this season but their finishes have usually been strong. That was the case again on Sunday night as the Blackhawks took a lead, lost a lead and regained a lead for good in their 4-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks.

This one featured a little bit of everything. So let’s just get to the Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ victory over Vancouver.

1. Jonathan Toews breaks through. If the Blackhawks captain’s confidence was a little shaken with his lack of scoring this season, it should’ve gotten a boost with his Sunday outing. Toews’ goal and three assists were as big for him as they were the Blackhawks, who needed every bit of it late against the Canucks. In his last 12 games Toews has three goals and eight assists. He’s getting there. Said coach Joel Quenneville, “it seems like he was around the puck way more and when he does that, usually good things happen.”

2. Great start. This hasn’t been written very often but it was more than evident on Sunday night. If this wasn’t the Blackhawks’ best opening period of the season it was pretty close, as they broke out to a 2-0 lead against the Canucks. The Blackhawks, outside of a 3 ½-minute sequence without a shot on goal, were tenacious and ready to shoot, taking an 18-9 shots-on-goal edge in that first.

3. Corey Crawford rebounds. Quenneville considered Scott Darling for this game, an understandable thought with Darling coming off a 30-stop shutout. But he wanted Crawford to get back to where he was prior to his appendectomy, and Crawford took a step in that direction on Sunday night. In stopping 25 of 27 shots Crawford got his 18th victory of the season and 200th of his career. Quenneville said Crawford “looked like he was in control.”

4. Michal Kempny’s tough stretch. When Kempny has been good this season he’s been very good. When he’s been bad... The defenseman was in the penalty box when the Canucks scored their first goal and he was beaten by Bo Horvat on the Canucks’ second goal. Kempny didn’t play the final 14 minutes of the game. Quenneville, who liked what Kempny brought on the team’s road trip, said Kempny just has to work through some things. “Coverage with awareness and knowing sometimes it’s man coverage, sometimes it’s playing the puck and clearing the loose stuff,” Quenneville said. “Defenseman is a tough position as you’re growing and learning it, but the more you play the better you play and I still think he’s making progress.”

5. Brian Campbell gets to keep No. 500 this time. Campbell thought he had his 500th point against the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night but it was taken away. Well he got it back on Sunday night, setting up Richard Panik’s 11th goal of the season in the first period.

Jonathan Toews' four-point night paces Blackhawks past Canucks

Jonathan Toews' four-point night paces Blackhawks past Canucks

Jonathan Toews has been doing a lot of things right this season. The offensive production, however, has been hit and miss as the Blackhawks' captain looked for the same consistency on the score sheet he had in the rest of his game.

On Sunday, he hit pay dirt.

Toews recorded a four-point night, including the game-winning goal, and Corey Crawford won his 200th career game as the Blackhawks beat the Vancouver Canucks 4-2 on Sunday night. The Blackhawks remain in second place in the Western Conference. They and the Minnesota Wild each have 65 points, but the Wild still have three games in hand.

It was a milestone night for a few Blackhawks. Marian Hossa had an empty-net goal late to record his 400th point in a Blackhawks uniform. Toews' three assists put him 13th all-time among Blackhawks in that category with 331. Brian Campbell recorded his 500th career point.

Richard Panik had a goal and an assist.

The Blackhawks had arguably their best start of the season in this one, outscoring the Canucks 2-0 (Panik and Patrick Kane) and outshooting them 18-9. But in less than a minute in the third period, the Blackhawks lost the lead, thanks to Troy Stecher's power-play goal and Bo Horvat's rebound goal.

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But Toews, who played his part in the Blackhawks' start, was there for the finish. Panik's late third-period shot caromed off the backboard and went right to Toews, who scored for the 3-2 lead with 1:18 remaining in regulation.

"I guess the goals have scored lately are just getting those bounces and being in the right spot at the right time. Nice to get that one on my stick," Toews said. "I just keep telling Hartsy (Ryan Hartman) and Panner to keep shooting — they both have unbelievable shots — and we're going to generate stuff whether it hits the end wall, goes in or hits the guy's pads. We'll find something around the net. It's nice to get that bounce late in the game."

The Blackhawks had some bad luck — and Michal Kempny had a rough shift or two — during the Canucks' third-period comeback. It was a bit of frustration at the time, but coach Joel Quenneville said the Blackhawks kept their cool.

"I still thought we didn't get away from our game at that point, which could have happened," he said. "Finding a way to get it to overtime or scoring a late goal tonight is something our guys have been good at. Just (the) play at the net, Johnny in the right spot with the finish. I still thought we kept our composure at that point."

Crawford, meanwhile, stopped 25 of 27 shots and looked better than he has in some recent outings.

"We gave him some looks where he could feel comfortable again, and he had some great plays in close from post to post on their power plays, especially in the second," Toews said. "He was finding them all night. Nice to see Crow play the way he did tonight and obviously he was a big part, as usual, in the win."

The Blackhawks had a bit of a gaffe early in the third period, but they were able to weather it. Toews has been steady in most facets of his game this season but was looking to build on his production. Sunday’s game was a step in the right direction.