Hawks-Flyers, Game 5: The lines they are a-changin'

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Hawks-Flyers, Game 5: The lines they are a-changin'

Sunday, June 6, 2010
12:49 AM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

CHICAGO All indications are that significant line changes are due the Chicago Blackhawks when they hit the ice Sunday in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Many moves that were anticipated as early as Game 4 seem to be on the horizon. Most prominent is the dissolution of the top line. Dustin Byfuglien has been an utter non-factor in the Finals so far, and coach Joel Quenneville will have to find a place to stash him where he can regain his footing and confidence, as on Friday he simply looked lost. The lone Blackhawks rallying point in the game, at minutes ticked short on the third period, came when phenoms Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane were split apart, so its a safe bet that Q will keep that mojo working and force Philly to find ways to defend the two talents separately.

On the defensive end, Brian Campbell has gotten better with every game played so far in the Finals, so expect him to continue to see increased minutes, perhaps at the expense of Niklas Hjalmarsson, who Quenneville acknowledge had a very rough start to Game 4.

On the Flyers side, why change a thing? Coach Peter Laviolette has pulled off the improbable feat of outfoxing Quenneville so far in the series, his minor tinkers trumping Chicagos consistent rolls.

Consistent until Game 5, that is. Quenneville has fought his own nature by bringing minimal change to the lineup in the first four games of the series. With the Finals reduced now to a best-of-three, the veteran mentor is faced with the coaching job of his life.

Brett Ballantini isCSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnikon Twitter for up-to-the-minute Hawksinformation.

Yoan Moncada 'relieved' to get first White Sox hit out of way

Yoan Moncada 'relieved' to get first White Sox hit out of way

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Yoan Moncada can’t complain much about his first hit with the White Sox.

Given all the elements, it rates about a 9 1/ 2 out of 10. Only a homer would have been better.

Baseball’s top prospect continues to look comfortable at the plate and in the field. Two days after he made his team debut, Moncada earned his first hit when he ripped a two-out, bases-loaded triple early in Friday night’s 7-6 loss to the Kansas City Royals. Moncada finished 1-for-4 with four RBIs.

“Once I got that first hit, I felt relieved,” Moncada said through an interpreter. “First, because it was the first one. And second because of the situation. It was a three RBIs triple. It was a very big moment of the game. I think that from now on I’m going to feel more relaxed and comfortable.”

Moncada has put together a series of good plate appearances in his first two games. He’s looked at ease while in the box and hasn’t panicked even when he gets behind in the count. Moncada said he felt even more comfortable when he stepped in to face Royals starter Ian Kennedy in the third inning. Not only was it his second time facing Kennedy, but Moncada sat in the on-deck circle as Matt Davidson drew a 10-pitch walk to load the bases with two outs.

Hitting left-handed, Moncada fell behind 0-2 in the count but Kennedy hung a 78-mph knuckle curve and the rookie lined it deep into the left-center field gap to clear the bases. Moncada not only showed his power, he also showed off his wheels: his 11.24 seconds from home to third was the fastest time by a White Sox player this season, according to MLB Statcast.

“He's seeing the ball,” manager Rick Renteria said. “He seems pretty calm, composed out there. It's just a couple of days, but in terms of how he's carrying himself, his body language, he seems to be transitioning pretty well up to this point, first couple of days.”

Moncada said Friday was much calmer than his Wednesday debut against the Los Angeles Dodgers when he drew a walk and went 0-for-2. The switch-hitting second baseman had an RBI groundout in his first at-bat Friday to give the White Sox a 1-0 lead. Then he stood in and tracked Kennedy with Davidson at the plate.

All in all, Moncada’s happy with how he’s executed his plan at the plate thus far. He said he choked up on the 0-2 pitch and put a good swing on it.

“That at-bat gave me more time to see in real life his pitches,” Moncada said. “I’ve been feeling very comfortable. In Chicago, that first game, it was a little bit nervous. But overall I feel very comfortable hitting and with my defense.”

Fire GM Nelson Rodriguez rings NASDAQ closing bell

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Chicago Fire

Fire GM Nelson Rodriguez rings NASDAQ closing bell

As part of the hype for the MLS All-Star Game, Fire general manager Nelson Rodriguez and a handful of Major League Soccer cohorts made a trip to New York on Friday.

Rodriguez rang NASDAQ's closing bell. The MLS All-Star Game will take place at Soldier Field on Aug. 2.

Check out the photos from the occasion.