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.

Doug McDermott's return boosts Bulls' bench

Doug McDermott's return boosts Bulls' bench

Doug McDermott wasn’t exactly hunting for his first shot, but the first time he touched the ball in an NBA game in nearly a month wasn’t the optimal situation for him to let one fly.

It wasn’t in transition where he runs to an opening behind the 3-point line, nor was it a drive-and-kick situation where the help defense collapsed and left him open. It was a regular, simple, pass to the perimeter and McDermott’s defender was in reasonable proximity with 3:23 left in the first quarter.

He launched and the crowd soon roared its approval as his sweet jumper was sorely missed by the Bulls bench brigade—and moments later when he ran the floor for a fearless layup that caused Spurs coach Gregg Popovich to call a timeout, McDermott showed he missed the United Center crowd too, calling for more noise on his way to the bench.

“Anytime you have a guy like Doug, he comes back and makes his first 3, that’s hard to do,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “He stepped up with confidence on that first shot. I’m sure he had a lot of nerves getting back out there.”

Missing 12 games and suffering two concussions, McDermott looked right at home in 25 minutes of run Thursday as the Bulls were able to rely on their reserves in some form in their 95-91 win over the previously perfect road warriors known as the Spurs.

“We defended and kept them off the foul line,” McDermott said. “Coach (Jim) Boylen was with them, so we feel we know them and I think all this time they were missing my defense.”

[SHOP: Get your Bulls gear right here]

The last statement was certainly tongue-in-cheek, but the Bulls’ bench production was certainly missing in action while he was out with the concussion protocol. So much so that his return prompted the Bulls’ coaching staff to call out the reserves in the morning shootaround, demanding more.

“It’s definitely Dwyane (Wade) and Jimmy (Butler) and (Rajon) Rondo (but) the coaching staff kinda called out our bench like, we gotta have you tonight, bench,” McDermott said. “We took that to heart, we were really locked in.”

Seemingly his presence aided the Bulls’ spirits and production, as the Bulls’ bench had the least effective scoring bench in the NBA since Nov. 13, the day after McDermott hit the unforgiving floor against the Wizards for his second concussion this season.

Their net rating ranks ahead of only the Wizards, Mavericks and Nets, who are a combined 17-45 this season. Their effective field goal percentage, which takes into account 3-pointers, is worst in the league in that span (42.3 percent).

When McDermott was healthy for that smaller sample size, the Bulls’ bench ranked fifth in offensive efficiency, seventh in net rating, and fifth in efficient field goal percentage. Whether McDermott – and his absence – was directly related to those numbers, it’s clear the Bulls are better when they have their best reserve – and only true floor spacers on the second unit – on the court.

“We’re all professionals and we want to help the guys who are busting their butts in the first unit to get us the leads,” McDermott said. “Tonight we did a great job of sustaining it. We take it personal when teams come back on us.”

[MORE: Pau Gasol relishes consistency with Spurs he couldn't find with Bulls]

Nikola Mirotic was four of eight from the field, and Cristiano Felicio seems to be back in Fred Hoiberg’s good graces as he’s carved out a rotation spot for himself with nine points and seven rebounds in 18 minutes.

It seems as if Hoiberg will stick with this rotation of players, at least for a little while until Michael Carter-Williams returns from his injuries. If McDermott is the mark of the Bulls’ bench going from bottom feeder to adequate, it should show this month.

“When he’s out there on the floor and we get him coming off screens, it forces the defense to shift as another person they need to be aware of,” Hoiberg said. “It opens up driving lanes for our guys. It was great to have Doug back with us.”

Morning Update: Bulls beat Spurs in Pau Gasol's return to Chicago

Morning Update: Bulls beat Spurs in Pau Gasol's return to Chicago

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