CSN to air Blackhawks, Red Wings Winter Classic game tonight

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CSN to air Blackhawks, Red Wings Winter Classic game tonight

Comcast SportsNet will be re-airing Blackhawks Classics until the NHL lockout comes to an end. Tune in tonight at 7:00 p.m. to catch the 2009 Winter Classic game between the Blackhawks and Red Wings at Wrigley Field.

It was an early afternoon at Wrigley and over 40,000 fans packed the Friendly Confines, but this time, the seats were filled in the dead of winter and the outfield was covered with a thick sheet of ice. For the first time in its history, Wrigley Field was home to an outdoor skating rink as the Blackhawks faced off against the defending Stanley Cup champion Red Wings in the 2009 NHL Winter Classic.

What to watch for

Cubs and Blackhawks legends came together for the historical event as Billy Williams, Fergie Jenkins and Ryne Sandberg joined Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita and Denis Savard at the game to perform their own version of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game", changing a few words to make the song more hockey-friendly.

The tune of course came after the first memorable performances of the night, which included Jim Cornelison and Scott Newlands performing the Star-Spangled Banner and O Canada.

Kris Versteeg, Martin Havlat, Ben Eager and Duncan Keith all found the back of the net during the outdoor game, but a strong run from the Red Wingers in the second and third periods resulted in 6-4 victory for Detroit.

Remembering the 2008-09 season
Martin Havlat led the Blackhawks with 77 points.Jonathan Toews had 34 goals, still a career-high.Patrick Sharp had scored more than 30 goals in a season three times in his NHL career.Kris Versteeg was named to the 2008-09 NHL All-Rookie Team.Dave Bolland recorded 47 points, still a career-high.
The Blackhawks had a franchise-record 9-game winning streak in December, 2008.The Blackhawks' 2009 playoff appearance was their first since 2002.
Join in on the conversation during tonight's game by using HawksClassics on Twitter.

Cubs: Jon Lester denied 20th win in loss to Reds

Cubs: Jon Lester denied 20th win in loss to Reds

CINCINNATI – Jon Lester says he speaks for the entire clubhouse when he offers to trade it all in – the individual numbers, All-Star selections, Cy Young honors, MVP hardware – for a World Series ring with the Cubs. 

The Cubs are trying to have it all, 100-plus wins, awards season, off-the-field endorsement deals and so much out-there fun that it draws the attention of baseball’s fun police. But Lester understands October is where this team will ultimately be remembered.

The Cincinnati Reds denied Lester his 20th win on Saturday at Great American Ball Park, jumping out to a four-run lead after three innings and hanging on for a 7-4 victory.

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Whether or not this dents Lester’s Cy Young chances, the big-game lefty reached the number that he believes defines the true value of a starting pitcher, surpassing 200 innings for the eighth time in his career.

Lester certainly lived up to the great expectations in the second season of that six-year, $155 million megadeal that came with a World Series mandate, finishing the regular season at 19-5 with a 2.44 ERA and the expectation that he will be the Game 1 starter in the playoffs.

How Cubs plan to deploy Javier Baez in the playoffs

How Cubs plan to deploy Javier Baez in the playoffs

CINCINNATI – Using common sense and Geek Department probabilities, Joe Maddon wants to know where the ball should be hit before deciding where to play Javier Baez, the kind of elite defender the Cubs manager envisions when he talks about creating a Gold Glove for super-utility guys. 

“I just like to put him where the most action may be,” Maddon said. “He really provides a lot of coverage on slow rollers. He’s got the arm. He’s got the flair.”

With lefty Jon Lester facing a Cincinnati Reds lineup stacked with right-handed hitters, Maddon started Baez at third base on Saturday at Great American Ball Park, where the Cubs gave a potential sneak preview for their Game 1 playoff lineup.

Baez has been credited with 17 Defensive Runs Saved this year while moving between second base, shortstop and third base, putting together a package of highlight-reel plays and giving Maddon even more freedom with his lineup and in-game strategy.

If offense will be at such a premium in the postseason – putting an even stronger emphasis on pitching and defense – could Baez become an everyday player in October?

“Not 100 percent,” Maddon said. “You catch a lead, he’ll be in the game. I think that we still may go with an offensive matchup – and then hopefully grab a lead – and then get him in there. Do that kind of a thing, not unlike what we did last year with ‘Schwarbs’ (Kyle Schwarber), as an example, (where you) pull him and move everything around.

“I haven’t decided, but that would be my first inclination.”

[SHOP: Buy a Javier Baez jersey]

The Cubs lead the majors in defensive efficiency, a breakthrough that has contributed to 102 wins and helped Lester and Kyle Hendricks put up Cy Young Award-worthy numbers, giving this group an overall dimension that could separate them from the franchise’s previous playoff teams.

“That’s where our pitchers have just been able to relax,” Lester said. “(We) know that: ‘Hey, I don’t have to be so perfect with each pitch.’ We’ve got such good defense behind us that it’s kind of like: ‘OK, just hit it. Those guys will figure it out after that.’”