Chicago Blackhawks

Word on the Street: Bulls to get Butler?

Word on the Street: Bulls to get Butler?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011
CSNChicago.com

Bulls to get Butler?

Veteran guard Rasual Butler is expected to clear waivers Wednesday and the Bulls might be interested. The 31-year-old swingman had his contract bought out by the Los Angeles Clippers earlier this week and he could be a good fit for the Bulls, who have been looking for a shooting guard all season.

Butler averaged just 18.1 minutes per game for the Clippers this season, his lowest total in the past three years, but he drained an average of one three-pointer per game. The Hawks, Celtics, Thunder and Knicks are all reportedly interested. (Chicago Tribune)

Have the White Sox found their RF of the future?

The White Sox are working Dayan Viciedo into a potential outfielder and the young phenom is exceeding expectations one game into his trail run. The first pitch of Tuesday's Spring Training game soared out Viciedo's way in right field and the slugger made a nice running catch.

That was a very tough play, manager Ozzie Guillen said. The ball was right on the line, the first ball hes seen in spring training. That was a good read. (CSNChicago.com)

Can the Cubs learn from the '10 Giants?

The 2010 World Champion San Francisco Giants found success on pitching and strong defense, the two things Cubs manager Mike Quade preaches about the most. So, can the Cubs follow the Giants' pattern and make a push for their first championship in over a century?

Pitching and defense is how you win championships, pitcher Ryan Dempster said. Anybody sees it as motivation. You dont have to be picked on somebodys preseason board to be the World Series champ. (CSNChicago.com)
Fire sign new goalkeeper

The Chicago Fire signed Alec Dufty on Tuesday, extending the number of goalkeepers on the roster to three.

"Alec is a talented young goalkeeper, with size and confidence in goal," Frank Klopas, the Fire's technical director said about the 23-year-old Dufty in a release. "He has the ability to grow as a 'keeper with the Fire and helps provide stability to our goalkeeping core." (Chicago Tribune)

Five Things from Blackhawks-Blue Jackets: Shots and slashes

Five Things from Blackhawks-Blue Jackets: Shots and slashes

It’s preseason: you don’t need a lot of build-up. Let’s just delve right in, shall we?

1. Lots of shots, but…

The same Joonas Korpisalo that the Blackhawks’ youngsters scored five goals against on Tuesday was on top of his game on Saturday. The Blackhawks peppered him with 54 shots but only two got through, and the second was a 6-on-4 power-play goal in the final two minutes.

“I thought we could have gotten a little more traffic in front of him," Nick Schmaltz said. "I thought we were playing along the outside. I mean we had some great looks. He made some big saves. Some nights you get the bounces and some nights you don’t.”

2. Bérubé’s Blackhawks debut.

Jean-François Bérubé had a tough sequence early in the second period, when he gave up two goals in a 28-second span. This was against a Columbus team that didn’t send many of their top players. He also didn’t see a ton of action in this one; the Blue Jackets fired just 21 shots his way.

3. Growing pains.

Alex DeBrincat had his up and down moments on Saturday night. His turnover led to Columbus’ first goal, he took a slashing penalty and he fought the puck quite a bit. You still saw glimpses of that skill, though, especially with his quick release. Hey, he’s a 19-year-old guy getting his first taste of the NHL. Nights like this are going to happen.

“We all make mistakes,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “You gotta be safe in certain areas and you learn from that.”

4. Slash-o-meter.

Four more were called on Saturday night. Don’t be surprised if that number starts dwindling sooner rather than later, though, because the edict has apparently changed already. Sportsnet’s John Shannon reported earlier on Saturday that the league told officials to ease up on slashing and faceoff violations. But we all figure that’s going to happen once the regular season begins anyway, right?

5. Notre Dame bound.

The destination is familiar but the Blackhawks threw it into their second week of camp this season. It’ll be bonding time for the Blackhawks, who will send a smaller group for several practices there this week. Quenneville figures it’ll be a productive time. “We’ll get some bonding in, play golf together, have a nice outing, couple of road games and a nice campus.”

Nick Schmaltz's confidence, hold on second-line center, continues to grow

nick_schmaltz.jpg
USA TODAY

Nick Schmaltz's confidence, hold on second-line center, continues to grow

Nick Schmaltz seemed to be everywhere the puck was on Saturday night. Great pursuit of the puck, great passes to Patrick Kane or Alex DeBrincat and an all-around confidence that’s becoming more apparent by the game.

So has coach Joel Quenneville seen what he’s needed to from Schmaltz at second-line center?

“And more.”

It’s been a pretty impressive showing for Schmaltz this month. The 21-year-old has played in all three of the Blackhawks’ preseason games and keeps getting better in each one. The uncertainty Schmaltz understandably showed as a rookie is gone; the NHL game no longer feels uncomfortable.

“I feel like the game’s slowing down for me, just seeing plays,” Schmaltz said. “I know what I’m doing with the puck before I get it. It feels good and just trying to get better every day.”

Schmaltz and his fellow second liners didn’t connect for goals in the Blackhawks 3-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday but it wasn’t for lack of trying. The three combined for 12 of the Blackhawks’ 54 shots on goal – Kane and DeBrincat each had five – and the chemistry continues to build between the three.

Jonathan Toews talked on Saturday morning of how much more relaxed Schmaltz looks with the puck now, and that was evident again later that night.

“He’s really starting to get comfortable physically at this level,” Toews said. “He thinks the game so well, puts himself in good spots, much like Kaner where he can skate with the puck and use his speed. He has his head up so he backs guys off. Those two were making great plays tonight and Brinksy was fitting in well. They couldn’t buy a goal but Schmaltzy’s getting better and better, and you’re’ seeing that calm poise that he has really come out the more he gets comfortable.”

Schmaltz was likely getting a second-line audition in some capacity this fall; the original thought was at left wing in the wake of Artemi Panarin’s trade. But Schmaltz has always felt at his best at center. He’s showing that. And more.

“It’s always fun to play no matter if it’s preseason or regular season," he said. "I’m always happy to play, especially when you’re playing with great players. I feel like I’m more comfortable in the middle, able to use my speed a little bit more, create more offense that way.

"I think it’s going well. Wherever I end up, I’ll be happy.”