Hinrich making progress, hopes to play in Bulls opener


Hinrich making progress, hopes to play in Bulls opener

DEERFIELD, Ill. -- Bulls starting point guard Kirk Hinrich fully participated in the team's practice Monday afternoon at the Berto Center and while neither he nor Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau would commit to saying that the veteran will be ready for the Halloween season opener, they both indicated that he's making progress. Hinrich received treatment after the afternoon session and was optimistic about the strained right groin injury suffered in the preseason not keeping him out of his regular-season return to the United Center.

"I'm doing much better," Hinrich said. "I participated in practice today and was pretty pleased about it.

"As of right now, if I don't have any setbacks tomorrow or anything, I plan on playing," he added. "It's something I've never really have before, I'm just happy with the improvement, and I just felt it was important for me today to get out there and get some reps, and try to test it as much as I could.

"For a chance to be playing, I was going to be out here a couple days to see how it feels and I was very happy with it today, so moving forward, I'm going to approach tomorrow the same way and try to get through a full practice without any issues and see how I'm feeling."

Thibodeau concurred: "He was fine, a little bit better today. Practiced, went well, so we'll see where we are tomorrow."

Between Hinrich's original stint in Chicago and his return this season, he's been nicked up with various ailments while playing in Atlanta and Washington. Although his hard-charging style hasn't changed much since his younger days, the veteran explained that he now takes a different approach when he's banged up.

"All I can do is get my treatment, try to give an honest opinion of how I feel and try to test it out, and push it in ways that I'll be pushed in the game, so I felt like today was very positive in that regard," Hinrich said. "I'm probably a little bit smarter. I've had some injuries that have kept me out for extended periods of time at this point in my career. Just smarter in that regard."

Fast Break Morning Update: Scott Darling leads Blackhawks to win over Blues

Fast Break Morning Update: Scott Darling leads Blackhawks to win over Blues

Here are the top Chicago sports stories from Sunday:

Scott Darling shines in fill-in duty as Blackhawks break late tie to best rival Blues

White Sox pitchers headed for World Baseball Classic look sharp in win over Rockies

What if… Cubs GM Jed Hoyer’s takeaways from epic World Series Game 7

Quick hits: Blackhawks start strong in win over Blues

Illini keep NCAA tournament hopes afloat with dominant win over Nebraska

White Sox: Happy with progress, Brett Lawrie tries to clear final hurdles

How Indians regrouped and reloaded after losing unforgettable Game 7 to Cubs

Jim Thome: Getting into baseball Hall of Fame would be indescribable

Kurt Busch steals a monster of a win in Daytona 500

Michigan State gets big win to boost tourney hopes, while Wisconsin loses for fourth time in five games




Scott Darling shines in fill-in duty as Blackhawks break late tie to best rival Blues

Scott Darling shines in fill-in duty as Blackhawks break late tie to best rival Blues

Scott Darling found out at 8 o'clock this morning that he was starting for an ailing Corey Crawford. Considering he did this back in December for a few weeks, adjusting quick for one game was fine.

"It's kind of my job," Darling said.

And Darling, once again, did his job.

Darling stopped 30 of 32 shots and Patrick Kane scored his 24th goal of the season as the Blackhawks beat the St. Louis Blues 4-2 on Sunday night. The Blackhawks have won nine of their last 10 games. They're one point behind the Minnesota Wild, who made their splashy trade-deadline move in acquiring Martin Hanzal on Sunday. But the Blackhawks, thanks to veterans regaining their form, a top line finding its rhythm and youth consistently improving, are just rolling right along.

"We had a great start to the game. I thought Darls was excellent all night, great stretch there in the last 10 minutes where we fight through some tough shifts, particularly in the last couple of minutes in our end. But good win," coach Joel Quenneville said. "You look at the nice plays on the goals, it was kind of a comparable ending to the outdoor game: tied and about the same time they scored, we scored (tonight). Big two points for us."

Jonathan Toews scored his 16th of the season and Artem Anisimov scored the game-winning goal with 5:20 remaining in regulation. Tanner Kero added an empty-net goal with 2.6 seconds remaining in the game.

The Blackhawks already knew they'd be without Niklas Hjalmarsson (upper body) for at least a day or two when they found out Crawford couldn't go this morning. As Quenneville said Darling was strong once again, denying the Blues all but twice (a 2-on-1 goal from Magnus Paajarvi and a power-play goal from Alex Pietrangelo).

Toews and Kane (power-play goal) staked the Blackhawks to a 2-0 lead early before the Blues tied it in the second. But late in the third period Anisimov took the feed from Artemi Panarin to give the Blackhawks a 3-2 lead.

"I saw the puck all the way. It was easy to pick up," Anisimov said. "When you don't see the puck at the last moment and it comes, it's hard to receive and prepare for the next move. But I saw it all the way. Easy to prepare for the next move."

Speaking of next moves, do the Blackhawks make any more before the trade deadline. General manager Stan Bowman said on Friday, following the acquisition of Tomas Jurco, that he'll keep talking and listening but likes the group he has right now. If Bowman's made moves it's for what the Blackhawks have needed, not because of another team's trades. The Blackhawks like what they have right now. Winning nine of 10 and continuing to trend in the right direction, they should be careful not to disrupt what they've got going.

"I think we're, as we've said lately, trending the right way. We're playing solid. I think all four lines are contributing in every which way," Toews said. "I love our group right now. Everyone is getting better individually, contributing more and more and it's a lot of fun to see the way we're playing right now. We know that the ceiling is way higher and we can keep getting better too."