Chicago Blackhawks

Word on the Street: Pujols headed to Windy City?

Word on the Street: Pujols headed to Windy City?

Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2011
CSNChicago.com

Could Pujols be headed to the Windy City?

Sports Illustrated is reportingthat superstar Albert Pujols and the Cardinals are on completelydifferent pages in terms of years and money, that people familiar withthe talks say there is virtually no chance for a deal before Pujolsreports to spring camp Feb. 16.

The three-time NL MVP will be afree-agent at season's end, and has set his reporting date as thedeadline for a contract to be done with the Cardinals.

Onecompeting executive said he wouldn't be surprised if the Cubs made abig play for Pujols. Chicago have Carlos Pena on a one-year deal andwould have a spot for Pujols next offseason. (Sports Illustrated)

Melo re-signing in Denver?

Carmelo Anthony would consider signing a three-year, 65 million contract extension with the Nuggets. That is, if he isn't traded before the Feb. 24 deadline.

This marks the first time Anthony has said he might sign the contract extension that has been on the table since June. when asked what he thought of a possible trade to the Lakers, Anthony played coy saying, "Everyday is something different. I guess now is the Lakers." (Denver Post)

Kenny on Ozzie, budget, 2011

Check out Crains Chicago Business terrific four-part Business of Sports video interview with White Sox SVPGM Kenny Williams. Among the topics Williams candidly discusses with Crains Ed Sherman include his current relationship status with manager Ozzie Guillen, how he handles his teams budget, going for it all in 2011 and much more. (Crains' Chicago Business)

Montana heading to Montana?

University of Montana football coach Robin Pflugrad confirmed today that he met with NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana yesterday afternoon. Joe's son Nate is currently a backup QB at Notre Dame. Pflugrad would neither confirm nor deny that the meeting surrounded Nate Montana's pollible transfer to UM.

Pflugrad added that he was aware of Nate's situation at Notre Dame, but said Montana "has four kids and we talked about them all." (The Montana Kaimin)

Cutler pops the question?

Are wedding bells in the near future for Jay Cutler? According to TerezOwens.com, Jay is planning on popping the question to Cavallari. The Bears QB has been seen ring shopping in Beverly Hills. (TerezOwens.com)

Cooke served 4-game suspension

The NHL announced that Pittsburgh Penguins forward Matt Cooke will get hit with a four game suspension. This announcement comes a day after Cooke hit Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Fedor Tyutin from behind in a 4-1 loss. Tyutin was sent face first into the boards, fortunately getting back on his feet soon after.

Cooke will forfeit 87,804.88 in salary. He was last suspended for two games on Nov. 28, 2009. (Chicago Breaking Sports)

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.”