Shots Anyone?

Shots Anyone?

Friday, December 11

Its the holiday season, and what does that mean? Work holiday parties where everyone wants to celebrate to the max. Well, remember, these are your work mates, not your family, and theyll remind you of everything you did. And as always heed the advice of a seasoned professional behind the bar, especially if hes starting to resemble St. Nick.
VILLAINS WANTED: Its easy to bash Notre Dame Football these days for any number of reasons. So easy in fact that it gets kind of boring. When you root for someone, I guess it would make sense that you root against someone else. Having gone to Penn State in the eighties, the school that was most fun to root against was the Fighting Irish. They were an easy target, and because they were usually good, beating them meant something. Now what does it mean? Heres hoping that their new coach can come in and have a little success (not too much!), so I can get riled up again. I mean, how can you develop any venom towards Boise State, T.C.U or Cincinnati? Cmon N.D., get your act together!

GO CATS!: As a sidebar to the N.D. coaching search, Im just glad that it did not include Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald. Im a big fan of Coach Fitz. He doesnt strike me as one of these coaching carousel kind of guys. When he talks of his passion for his school and commitment to his players, I believe him. In fact, he fires me up! He would have been just the answer for Notre Dame. Thank goodness they didnt ask the question. I know Ill start my New Years Day watching the Wildcats and hoping they get that elusive second bowl win against Auburn in the Outback Bowl.

ITS OVER! ITS ALL OVER!: Of course since I mentioned Penn State, youd be right to assume Im a Joe Paterno fan, and that Ive been paying attention to what has happened in Tallahassee. Ive always wanted Joe to own the college football wins record, but if Bobby Bowden would have gotten it, what are you going to do? The guys a winner, and their battle to see who would own the record was amazing. Consider that they both are 65 wins past the old record, held by Bear Bryant, and not only that, the next active guy, Frank Beamer, is 155 wins behind Bowden! Ive been asked a million times about how long I thought that Jo Pa should coach, and Ive always answered, as long as he wants! Joes done it the right way and built the P.S.U. program in to a perennial power, he can leave when hes done. Think they didnt want the record, or keep an eye on each other? Bowdens famous line about the record when asked about a few years ago was that he checked the obituaries everyday! This would be a war of attrition and the last man standing would win. That man is Paterno. Im just glad that Joe didnt win because of wins taken away, rather, that it was because of the results on the field. I cant wait for win 400 next year.
WHERES THE BUS?: The 2 things that Lovie said he would do while he was coach was to get of the bus running, and beat the Packers. You can ask Brian Urlacher about how that running thing is going. As far as beating the Packers, hes 7-4 including two season sweeps in six seasons, not bad, especially considering what the Packers had done to the Bears in the decade before his arrival. But, I cant remember a Packer week that had this little enthusiasm. In my 15 years living here, Ive learned to dislike the team from the north in the oldest rivalry in the NFL. You could always tell Packer week at the bar, since the conversation got a little livelier. Its fun making fun of Packer fans! But when your most despised rival comes to town and it elicits only yawns, maybe its time to look in the mirror. I, along with Bears fans, have a bad feeling about this game. Lets hope Im wrong, the cheddar-heads dont mind giving back the abuse.

NVL: One of the things that should be understood about fan-hood is the act of tough love. Showing ones displeasure about a team that you root for is not wrong, its part of being a fan. In fact, if you care, and theyre bad, its un-avoid-a-Bull. The events of the last week have me thinking about our old friend Stormin Norman. I cant tell you how many times, when discussing the Bulls, the phrase, What do you think Norm would have said? has been uttered. I can only imagine his reaction after the shoe-tying incident in last Saturdays Bulls game. I cant think of it without smiling. Bulls fans miss you Norm.

DONT TOUCH THAT STOVE!: Something else not garnering a lot of interest at the bar is Chicago hot-stove talk. Dont get me wrong, its a baseball bar and well always have lots of baseball talk, but there doesnt seem to be a lot of feeling that anything significant will be done. On the Southside, thats understandable due to last seasons Peavy and Rios deals, and the earlier acquisition this off-season of Mark Teahen. The Northside is being held hostage by you-know-who, again. If you ask any fan, ANY, they say just eat the contract and move on. Theyve had enough and so should the Cubs. I understand the benefit of maxing out every deal, but some deals have benefits that arent as easy to calculate. Like taking a 400 lb. weight off your back, you cant imagine the relief. The weight of expectation on this franchise is NEVER going to go away. Its time to concentrate on the many other things that must be done to fix this team for a hopeful run at a 2010 title, and you cant start until that first step.

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."