<![CDATA[NBC Chicago - Sports]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/sports http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/5-Chicago-Blue.png NBC Chicago http://www.nbcchicago.com en-us Wed, 27 May 2015 09:34:02 -0500 Wed, 27 May 2015 09:34:02 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Blackhawks Panic Meter: Should Fans Be Worried? ]]> Tue, 26 May 2015 12:35:05 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/169*120/GettyImages-474755414.jpg

The Chicago Blackhawks are trying to get to their third Stanley Cup Final in the last six seasons and their second in the last three, but their backs are against the wall as they trail the Anaheim Ducks by a 3-2 margin in the Western Conference Final.

With Game 6 looming in Chicago on Wednesday night and the prospect of being eliminated just before the final series a definite possibility, we’re asking ourselves this morning: just how worried should Hawks fans be?

To help answer that question, we’re dusting off our trusty Panic Meter.

Offense: 6/10

The Blackhawks have gotten some great news lately with the coming out party for winger Teuvo Teravainen and the push they got from Jonathan Toews on Monday night in Game 5, but there are still players that need to step up their games. Patrick Sharp’s turnover at the blue line cost the Blackhawks a goal against Anaheim on Monday, and Marian Hossa’s shooting percentage is hovering around two percent for the postseason.

Those numbers have got to change if the Hawks are going to make a comeback in this series, but at least they have other weapons that are able to pick up the slack.

 

Defense: 9/10

Sure Duncan Keith seems like he would be able to play 50 minutes a night and not blink an eye, and Brent Seabrook has been a lethal offensive weapon the past few games, but wear and tear seem to finally be taking their toll with this group as the series continues.

Whether it’s overuse, lack of depth, or some combination of the two, the Hawks’ defense allowed some really good scoring chances to the Ducks in Game 5 and were in bad position on others. Turnovers on the forecheck led to a couple of Ducks goals in the game, and then Kimmo Timonen’s pass to the point is what ultimately led to Sharp’s turnover and another Anaheim tally.

Finally, Seabrook himself wasn’t without blame, panicking on the game’s final 2-on-1 rush as he tried to block a pass from Ryan Kesler that never came as the center fired a low shot off of Corey Crawford’s pads, and that puck found its way onto Matt Beleskey’s stick as the winger fired home the game winner.

This group is a resilient one, full of veterans who have been through this rodeo before, but one has to question whether or not they’ve finally met their match.

Goaltending: 5/10

Crawford has let in a few soft goals here and there during this series, but for the most part, he has helped keep the Hawks in it even as the defense has let him down time and again. Traffic in front of him has really hindered him in this series, but he’s fought through screens and even taken a few shots of his own at his opponents as the games have worn on.

Anyone blaming Crawford for the losses of this team haven’t really watched the series. He has fully recovered from his poor play against Nashville, and he’s frankly one of the main reasons that this thing is still winnable for the Blackhawks.

Total: 6/10

No team in their right mind wants to go down 3-2 in a series, but that’s the position the Blackhawks find themselves in. They have had opportunities to be ahead in this series, but the reality is that this series has seen a bunch of coin-flip moments between two evenly matched teams, and the breaks have ultimately gone the Ducks’ way.

Fans should be concerned to a degree, but if any team in these playoffs has given fans reason for optimism, it’s the Hawks. They possess the right blend of star talent and role players to get the job done, and this group has a ton of pride. They never quit fighting, and you saw that on Monday night. The team was down 3-0 and playing their worst hockey in recent memory, and yet they scratched and clawed their way back and forced overtime.

Lineup tweaks and home ice will both help on Wednesday night, and the Hawks should come out with a tremendous effort to keep their season alive. Fans writing this team off do so at their own peril, and should probably stick to writing in pencil instead of pen.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA["Mighty Ducks" Actor Live Tweets Hawks' Loss]]> Tue, 26 May 2015 08:40:29 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/emilio_better.jpg

Actor Emilio Estevez, known for his role as youth hockey coach Gordon Bombay in "The Mighty Ducks," was very excited about the Anaheim Ducks’ Game 5 win against the Chicago Blackhawks Monday… and he wasn’t afraid to show it.

Estevez channeled his popular Disney character as he live-tweeted the game and used the hashtag #GordonBombay to cheer on the Hawks rivals. He even quacked out an insult at the Hawks in one of the tweets.

The Blackhawks forced an overtime in California Monday night, but a Matt Beleskey goal gave the Ducks a 3-2 series lead.

The Blackhawks will try to save their season on Wednesday night when the teams meet again for Game 6 of the series. The puck is scheduled to drop at the United Center at 7 p.m.

We will have to wait and see if Estevez keeps quacking on Twitter for the game.  



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Ducks Beat Blackhawks 5-4 ]]> Mon, 25 May 2015 23:15:09 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-474750936.jpg

The Chicago Blackhawks got two goals from Jonathan Toews to force overtime in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final, but a Matt Beleskey goal just under a minute into overtime gave the Anaheim Ducks a 5-4 victory on Monday night. 

The loss puts the Blackhawks one loss away from being eliminated in the conference final for the second consecutive season. 

The Ducks may have had to deal with a tough overtime loss in Game 4, but there was no carryover effect as they positively dominated the entire first period. They got on the board early in the frame as Nate Thompson made a great play on the forecheck behind the net, and after Cam Fowler pinched in from the blue line, he hammered a slap shot past Corey Crawford to give Anaheim a 1-0 lead.

Just 32 seconds later, the Ducks scored again. Jakob Silfverberg got the play started as he pinched in from the blue line and fired a shot toward the net, and Ryan Kesler got his stick blade on the puck. It ended up bouncing up off the ice and skipped past Crawford to make it a 2-0 game.

The Blackhawks continued to struggle on offense, going the first 14 minutes of the game without a shot on goal, and the Ducks took advantage as they scored again. Off a face-off win, Sami Vatanen came in toward the net and hammered a slap shot off the inside of the post and into the cage as Anaheim secured a huge 3-0 lead.

The Hawks did manage a few shots on goal late in the frame, but they were unable to score. Jonathan Toews had the best chance of the bunch as he collected a loose puck in front, but Frederik Andersen aced his first test as he made the save and kept his team in front after 20 minutes of play.

Unlike the first period of the game, the Blackhawks got off to a hot start in the second period and scored just over a minute into the period. Teuvo Teravainen made his presence felt in the game as he cut in across the blue line, skated across the slot, and ripped a shot past Andersen to get the Hawks on the board.

Each team got a power play as the period continued, but neither side could convert. The Blackhawks once again found themselves held out to the perimeter of the ice as they couldn’t get anything across the zone, and the Ducks had similar issues as the Hawks’ aggressive forecheck prevented them from cycling the puck to the blue line.

Late in the period, the Blackhawks looked as though they were going to head into the intermission down two goals, but Brent Seabrook had other ideas. Teravainen made a great play behind the net to buy himself a second to survey the ice, and he fired a pass across to the pinching Seabrook, who beat Andersen and made it a 3-2 game with one period to go.

The Blackhawks blew an early power play in the third period, and the miscues ended up costing them as the Ducks scored a critical insurance goal with about five and a half minutes to take a 4-2 lead. After Patrick Sharp turned the puck over at the blue line, Patrick Maroon got a cross-ice pass past a diving Niklas Hjalmarsson and flipped the shot home.

Despite the long odds, the Blackhawks started a comeback with about two minutes remaining. After a lengthy possession, Marian Hossa fired a pass to Jonathan Toews in the slot and the captain blasted a shot off the crossbar and into the net, making it a 4-3 game.

With a little over 30 seconds to go, the Blackhawks improbably tied it up. Toews got the puck down at the goal line, and he fired a shot toward the net. Somehow, the puck bounced off of Andersen’s left skate and slid over the line, and in an instant the Blackhawks made it a 4-4 game and forced the third overtime of the series.

Bryan Bickell turned the puck over less than a minute into overtime, and the Ducks quickly turned the miscue into a goal. Ryan Kesler's shot on a 2-on-1 rush was stopped by Crawford, but Matt Beleskey was there to hammer home the rebound and give the Ducks a 3-2 series lead. 

The Blackhawks will try to save their season on Wednesday night when the teams meet again for Game 6 of the series. The puck is scheduled to drop at the United Center at 7 p.m. 



Photo Credit: NHLI via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Hawks' Defense in for Stern Test in Game 5 ]]> Mon, 25 May 2015 17:52:28 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-474565672.jpg

The Chicago Blackhawks have been criticized throughout the season for their shallow defensive depth, but with Michal Rozsival out of the lineup and Kimmo Timonen not playing like his old self after returning from blood clots in his legs, things are looking worse than ever for Chicago.

That’s because the team is piling minutes onto its top four defensemen, and they’re starting to show some wear and tear in the process.

Duncan Keith is leading the way, playing nearly 37 minutes per game so far in the Western Conference Final against the Anaheim Ducks. Brent Seabrook isn’t far behind at nearly 34 minutes, while Niklas Hjalmarsson has also cracked the half hour mark at 31:30.

Those numbers by themselves are bad, but the Blackhawks are also running into a serious issue in this series: they’re getting hit early and often by the Ducks.

So far in this series, the Ducks have racked up 220 hits against Chicago, and 107 of them have targeted the team’s top four defensemen. That is a lot of punishment to take on its own, but when added to the extra ice time each player is getting thanks to the shallow defensive depth and the five overtime periods that have already been played in this series, it’s clear that there is a potential issue here.

With all of those numbers floating around this series, it would stand to reason that Game 5 could end up being the big test to determine whether the Hawks’ blue liners will break, or whether they will stand firm and remain effective.

The Ducks have only lost once on home ice so far in this postseason, and they are going to be eager to jump out to a good start and force the Blackhawks to play from behind.

If the Blackhawks are able to withstand that initial push, then things could potentially work out in their favor and see them gunning for the series victory on Wednesday night. If that physicality ends up finally breaking them and leads to breakdowns in discipline and positioning, then the Hawks could find themselves backed against the wall in a must-win situation at the United Center.

The fate of the Hawks in these playoffs rests largely on this game, and it’s the defense that will have the biggest say in determining the outcome.

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<![CDATA[Bears Release Ray McDonald ]]> Mon, 25 May 2015 15:48:05 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/th-may-25-ray-mcdonald-mug.jpg

The Chicago Bears rolled the dice on signing defensive end Ray McDonald after a history of domestic abuse accusations and arrests, and on Monday their gamble didn't pay off as the team released McDonald following a domestic violence arrest

"We believe in second chances, but when we signed Ray we were very clear what our expectations were if he was to remain a Bear," Bears G.M. Ryan Pace said in a statement. "He was not able to meet the standard and the decision was made to release him."

McDonald, who played for the San Francisco 49'ers under Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, was released by the team last season after he was arrested for assault in California. 

That arrest (the charges were eventually dropped because of insufficent evidence) was one of several brushes with the law that McDonald has had over the past few years. He also was accused of sexual assault last year, and he was also arrested for DUI and charged with failing to appear in court on the charges. 

When the Bears signed McDonald, team chairman George McCaskey said that McDonald's case was one of "bad judgment" and that he believed that the lineman was a changed man. 

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<![CDATA[Blackhawks vs. Ducks: Three Keys to Game 5 ]]> Mon, 25 May 2015 13:46:13 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-4745724221.jpg

 

The Chicago Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks have been engaged in a back and forth slugfest so far in the Western Conference Final, but the stakes are even higher on Monday night as the two teams battle with the series lead on the line.

 

The Blackhawks ended up securing that tie on Saturday night thanks to an Antoine Vermette goal in double overtime, but they can’t afford to rest on their laurels as Game 5 looms. The Ducks have only lost once at home during this postseason, and they will look to continue their dominance at the Honda Center as they attempt to take back control of the series.

With that in mind, we have three keys for the Blackhawks as they look to give themselves an opportunity to clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Final in Chicago on Wednesday.

Third Line Dominance Must Continue on Road

In Game 4 of the series, the reunited third line of Teuvo Teravainen, Antoine Vermette, and Patrick Sharp had an excellent contest as Vermette scored the game-winning goal and his two wingers both did a great job of dictating the tempo of the game when they were on the ice.

With the Ducks getting back the advantage of final line change on home ice Monday night, it’s critical that the Blackhawks continue to get good production out of this group. Giving Bruce Boudreau another line to have to focus on can only mean good things for Chicago’s offense, and with the way these three played on Saturday, thinking they can have a repeat performance is not out of the question.

Quenneville Must Watch Defensive Usage in Game 5

With the two teams in this series playing nearly 17 total periods of hockey so far, the Blackhawks’ lack of depth on their blue line might start to become an issue the deeper the series goes.

It’s also about more than just large amounts of ice time, the Blackhawks’ top four defensemen are taking an inordinate amount of punishment in this series. Of the 220 hits that the Ducks have been credited with so far in this series, 107 of them have been directed at that group of Hawks’ blue liners, and that is a lot of punishment to take in that short amount of time.

With those factors in mind, Joel Quenneville is going to have to be careful with the way he deploys his defensemen in this game Monday. In most of the games of this series, the Hawks have made it a point to space out minutes as much as possible in the first two periods and then load up in the third period, and they would be well-advised to take that approach today.

Continue to Stay Out of the Sin Bin

After surrendering five power plays to the Ducks in Game 2, the Blackhawks have been a lot more disciplined of late, only giving Anaheim three power play chances over the last two games and in general cleaning up the sloppy play that had plagued them earlier in the series.

If the Blackhawks are going to be successful on Monday night, they will have to continue that trend. The Ducks are a team that is going to commit a high number of penalties because of the physical style with which they play, and the Hawks have to be smart in responding to that. Retaliation is always a no-no in those situations, and they’ve largely done a good job of avoiding taking the bait.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[2015 French Open: Best Moments]]> Tue, 26 May 2015 18:32:34 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Eugenie-Bouchard-26-May-2015-2.jpg See photos from Roland-Garros, the 2015 French Open Tennis Tournament.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Ray McDonald Arrested on Domestic Violence Charge]]> Tue, 26 May 2015 02:53:11 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/ray+mcdonald+getty.jpg

NFL player Ray McDonald walked out of a Santa Clara County jail in San Jose on Monday afternoon after posting bail for a domestic violence arrest in Northern California, The Associated Press reported.

According to Lieutenant Kurt Clarke with the Santa Clara police department, officers were called to the former San Francisco 49er-turned-Chicago Bears defensive end's home in Santa Clara just after 3:45 a.m. for a report of a disturbance. Police said McDonald was accused of physically assaulting a victim while she was holding a baby.

After the alleged assault, McDonald left the home and was arrested in the 2200 block of Terra Nova Lane in San Jose, Clarke said. 

Two San Jose police sources told NBC Bay Area on Monday that they assisted Santa Clara police with the detention.

According to the sources, McDonald was arrested at the home of retired 49ers defensive end Justin Smith. Another source said he rents an apartment in Santa Clara on Carlyle Court for his ex-fiancee and baby.

McDonald was arrested for misdemeanor domestic violence and child endangerment, police said. He was taken to the Santa Clara Police Department before being transferred to the Santa Clara County Jail.

Hours after the arrest, the Bears released McDonald, only 62 days after the defense end signed a one-year contract with the team in March.

"We believe in second chances, but when we signed Ray we were very clear what our expectations were if he was to remain a Bear," Bears G.M. Ryan Pace said in a statement. "He was not able to meet the standard and the decision was made to release him."

McDonald was released from the 49ers in December after law enforcement officials in San Jose, Calif., began an investigation into an alleged sexual assault.

He has since sued the woman who accused him of assault, and he has not been charged in the case as the investigation remains open.

The defensive end was also tangled up in a domestic abuse case involving his fiancee last August, but he was not charged in the case.

"I feel like I didn't do anything wrong but you know, still, it's in the spotlight," McDonald told reporters at the Bears minicamp last month. "I'm just trying to move forward from it."

Also last month, Bears Chairman George McCaskey said he talked to McDonald about the incidents before signing him. 

"I made it clear to him what was expected of him if he were to become a Bear," McCaskey said. "I was confident at the end of that conversation that he'll do what needs to be done."

Reached by phone in Florida on Monday, McDonald's mother, LaBrina McDonald, told NBC Bay area that she knew nothing about the arrest.

"I'm not dealing with any more of this negative stuff," she said.

She did say that McDonald's baby, Amari, was born in March to his ex-fiance and that sometimes he visited his newborn son in Silicon Valley.

The Chicago Bears could not immediately be reached for comment. Neither DeFilippis nor McDonald's criminal attorney, Joshua Bentley, returned immediate requests for comment.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Vermette Scores Winner, Rebounds From Disappointment ]]> Sun, 24 May 2015 13:33:07 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/antoine+vermette+game+4.jpg

As one of the Chicago Blackhawks’ best face-off takers and a guy who has solidified the team’s third line, it was a bit jarring before Game 3 of the Western Conference Final when Joel Quenneville decided to bench center Antoine Vermette.

After all, Vermette is a player that came to Chicago as a rental, but the price Stan Bowman paid for him was steep. Klas Dahlbeck, one of the organization’s best defensive prospects, went to Arizona in the deal, and so did the Blackhawks’ 2015 first round draft pick. In spite of that price tag, Quenneville hasn’t seemed to warm to Vermette during his stay in Chicago, and that was never clearer than when the veteran didn’t appear in the lineup Thursday night.

When the Blackhawks lost that game by a 2-1 margin and fell behind in the series, it wasn’t shocking that Quenneville put Vermette back in the lineup. The one question that remained was whether or not Vermette would bounce back from the disappointment of being scratched in such an important playoff game, but that is exactly what he did.

Vermette helped spur the third line to arguably their best performance of the postseason. Teuvo Teravainen was rewarded with extra shifts and showed incredible jump all night long after he was also scratched in Game 3. Patrick Sharp came close on several occasions to scoring goals, including an overtime breakaway chance that Frederik Andersen stopped.

Ultimately, though, the big story was Vermette, who delivered when the team needed him the most. In the second overtime period, Vermette created a scoring opportunity when he pushed a shot toward the net, and he was the one who followed it up by pouncing on the rebound and curling it just inside the far post to give the Blackhawks a 5-4 victory and a 2-2 tie in the series.

After the game, Quenneville didn’t come out and say that he had made a mistake in benching Vermette for Game 3, but he did offer up some effusive praise for a player that he hasn’t really warmed to.

“They're so competitive,” the coach said. “They want to play in the worst way and they want more ice time, as well. You can understand where he was at. Very disappointed. He's a great pro. Stayed with it. That line had a couple looks in overtime. I'm glad he finished it for us. That was a huge goal for us.”

The odds are that Vermette will not stay with the Blackhawks after the season ends (unless he signs a Brad Richards-style contract to help the team keep players like Brandon Saad and Marcus Kruger in the fold), but even if he leaves, he has still provided this team what they were asking for in the postseason. He has been defensively solid, helped generate possession time on the third line, and finally came through in a big way on offense in the Game 4 win.

For now, the question isn’t about whether or not Vermette will stay, or whether or not he is getting along with Quenneville behind the scenes. All that matters is that he produced when he needed to, and the Blackhawks are two wins away from a Stanley Cup Final as a result.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Hundreds Rally for Tom Brady]]> Sun, 24 May 2015 18:32:24 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/free+brady.JPG

Tom Brady is living legend to the hundreds of fans who rallied at Gillette Stadium Sunday.

"He's a good player, he does nothing wrong," said one fan.

"Tom Brady's the greatest quarterback of all time," said another.

"I'm here for him," said another. "I got the sweater - it's a little hot for a sweater, but I'll take the heat."

Heat is what they are hoping this "Free Tom Brady" rally will put on NFL officials to remove the Super Bowl MVP's four game suspension.

"We're crazy when we're unified," said organizer Paublo Munoz. "We're an amazing team - as Patriots Nation, that is - and this really shows it."

Some came from New Hampshire and Rhode Island just to show their support and purchase shirts, dawning the words "Free Brady".

After getting married earlier this month, one couple had a change of plans for their honeymoon in hopes of a change in plans with disciplinary action taken against Brady.

"God bless Brady, because we're backing him, no matter what," said new husband Paul Goodrow. "We're not going on our honeymoon until that ban is lifted." 

Last week, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft said he won't appeal the punishment dealt to the team. But these fans say the $1 million fine and losing two draft picks is way too harsh.

They also had some choice words for the NFL commissioner and Indianapolis Colts.

"Goodell is stupid," said a young fan.



Photo Credit: necn
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<![CDATA[Fan Attempts Selfie With Federer at French Open]]> Sun, 24 May 2015 09:33:23 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP978212670959.jpg

For Roger Federer, the menace did not come from the other side of the net.

After dispatching Colombian Alejandro Falla in straight sets, the 17-time Grand Slam winner was about to leave center court Sunday when a young man ran down the stands and made his way to the Swiss star unhindered. The fan brazenly put his hand across his shoulder to try and get a selfie with him.

Federer looked surprised, then a bit uncomfortable as he seemed to question with a hand gesture why the security guards did not intervene. One of them finally grabbed the man and took him away.

While there was no ill intent from this fan, the incident raised concerns about security at the event and clearly riled Federer.

"I'm not happy about it. Obviously not one second I'm happy about it," Federer said, adding that he received an apology from tournament director Gilbert Ysern. "It happened yesterday in the practice, too. I think it's true for all players that you have to feel safe when we play, feel safe on the courts. It shouldn't happen too often. It's happened twice in two days and also in 2009 during the final. I think people should react more quickly. First, it should never happen."

That was the only incident in an otherwise smooth start to the French Open for Federer, who advanced to the second round with a 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 win over Falla.

Facing a player who pushed him to five sets at Wimbledon five years ago, the 2009 champion was never threatened this time, extending his unbeaten run against the 111th-ranked Falla to 8-0.

On a sunny first day of play at Roland Garros, last year's runner-up Simona Halep also advanced in straight sets in the women's draw.

Federer put Falla under pressure in the eighth game of the first set, breaking for a 5-3 lead when the Colombian could not handle a good backhand return. Federer shouted "come on" after earning a set point in his next service game and closed it out when Falla sent a backhand into the net.

Federer's flashy outfit, with pink shorts and a lilac shirt, was almost as eye-catching as some of the shots the former top-ranked player produced. The 17-time Grand Slam winner broke again for a 2-1 lead in the second set following a game in which he left Falla stranded with a perfectly hit defensive lob.

Federer wrapped up the second set with another break in the ninth game. At 4-3 down in the third set, Falla called a trainer to get his right thigh massaged. The Colombian held his next serve but could not prevent Federer from breaking him in the 10th game as the Swiss unleashed a forehand attack that he returned wide.

On the women's side, the third-seeded Halep hit an ace on match point to beat Russian Evegenia Rodina 7-5, 6-4, while ninth-seeded Ekaterina Markova breezed past American wild card Louisa Chirico 6-4, 6-2.

Halep made a big breakthrough at the French Open last year, losing in final to Maria Sharapova after not conceding a set in her previous matches.

Halep, who said she is stronger than last year both physically and mentally, is bidding to become the first Romanian to win a Grand Slam title since Virginia Ruzici at the French Open in 1978.

"I have stronger body and I have improved a lot in my game," she said. "Serve is better, so I feel more confident now with my game."

Up againt Halep in the second round will be veteran Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, who defeated American Lauren Davis 6-3, 3-6, 6-3. Lucic-Baroni, who won her first match at Roland Garros since 2002, upset Halep at the U.S. Open last year.

"I have not good memories from that match," Halep said. "I just was blocked and I couldn't hit the ball."

On paper, the 33-year-old Federer has a relatively easy draw until the fourth round, where he could meet 13th-seeded Gael Monfil before a potential quarterfinal with his Davis Cup teammate Stan Wawrinka, who beat Marsel Ilhan 6-3, 6-2, 6-3.

Federer, who achieved a career Grand Slam by winning the French Open in 2009 after three runner-up finish, has not made it to the final on the Parisian clay since 2011. He lost in the fourth round last year but has been playing excellent tennis recently and has a 26-5 record in 2015. On clay, he lost in final in Rome after claiming an 85th career title in Istanbul.

Among the seeded players to advance to the second round Sunday were also No. 19 Roberto Bautista Agut and No. 22 Philipp Kohlschreiber. The first seeded player to bow out was No. 25 Ivo Karlovic, who lost 7-6 (5), 6-4, 6-4 to Marcos Baghdatis.



Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Is Chargers Move to LA Legal?]]> Mon, 25 May 2015 13:30:57 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/172*120/GettyImages-457517872.jpg

For quite some time now, the Chargers have been laying the ground work for a move to Los Angeles if the team and the San Diego government cannot come to an agreement on a new stadium in either Mission Valley or Downtown.

Carson is calling. Inglewood could be, too. But one major issue could prove to be an obstacle too large to overcome: Moving a football team from San Diego to L.A. might not be legal.

Chargers fans are dedicated to keeping their beloved team in America’s Finest City, even if it means they have to sue the NFL to do it, and they have found someone willing to help them if necessary.

“The Chargers and the NFL are basically saying give us what we want or we’re going to move the team,” says former City Attorney Mike Aguirre. “That really is a violation of the anti-trust laws.”

San Diegans who have followed the last decade and a half of stadium wrangling may have memories of Aguirre being a thorn in the Chargers’ side. He says he’s always been pro-Chargers, that he’s learned from those days and sees a constructive way of moving forward.

“It’s easy to come across as being anti-Chargers,” says Aguirre. “That’s where you have to be super, super cautious to say this is not anti-Chargers, this is pro-keeping the Chargers here in San Diego.”

The meat of the idea comes from a few different places. One is the Sherman Act. Another is the anti-trust lawsuit a group of NFL players brought against the NFL during the 2011 Lockout. Another is Boltman.

“What we would like to do here is get support and feedback from the fans that this is the best option if the Chargers turn their backs on us,” said Dan Jauregui, better known to many by his alter-ego Boltman. “The beauty of all this is it is not coming from the Mayor’s office or the city or CSAG. It’s coming from the Charger fans. No political issues from the city.”

In a written statement entitled, Desperate Times Call For Desperate Measures, Jauregui outlines the idea of bringing a lawsuit against the NFL:

“We strongly feel that if the Chargers continue to threaten our city and hold fans hostage after a fair and reasonable finance plan has been submitted, we will have no choice but to prepare to make our case in court under the laws that prohibit unfair competition. I have also prepared a “demand” letter to the city of San Diego, requesting they file an injunction against the NFL to protect the rights of San Diego fans by asserting the city’s rights under anti-trust law. This demand letter has not yet been served to the city. We have arrived at this point very reluctantly, but we believe as Americans we have the duty to assert our rights under the laws that require our markets to be kept open and free. The NFL cannot be allowed to use unlawful monopoly power to deprive us of what the fans have worked and sacrificed to make possible: a very successfully NFL team.”

It is extremely difficult to win an anti-trust case in America. If any current business knows that, it’s the National Football League.

“What’s great about this issue is the NFL has already lost,” says Aguirre. “So if the city were the raise it as a serious issue and really get behind it the hope would be the NFL would see the city is serious and force everybody in to a position of, Let’s try to work this thing out.”

The case most germane to the idea came about in 2011. A group of NFL players led by Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and a few others filed a class action suit against the NFL and its 32 member teams on anti-trust grounds. Their complaint read, in part:

“The NFL Defendants comprise the only major professional football league in the United States. Together, they monopolize and/or restrain trade in, and/or have combined and conspired to monopolize and/or restrain trade in the United State market for the services of major league professional football players.”

That phrase, restrain trade in, is one of the keys here. Section 1 of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act says, in part:

“Every contract … or conspiracy, in restraint of trade or commerce among the several States, or with foreign nations, is declared to be illegal …”

That’s the verbiage that could cause serious problems for the Chargers and the NFL if an attempt is made to move the team to the Los Angeles market. The NFL lost its case in 2011 (a decision “overwhelmingly” upheld by the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals) and would face a similar argument in San Diego.

According to Aguirre, restraining trade is legal if it’s done under reasonable circumstances such as a financial hardship.

“Normally what you would say is, look we can’t make money there. We can’t make a go of it. We’re not making as much as we need to keep the team going,” says Aguirre. “None of that argument can be made. (The Chargers are) making plenty of money. They’re making more money than they’ve ever made.”

According to numbers from the statistical website www.statista.com the Chargers have seen an increase in revenue every season for the last 15 years. In fact, the team’s revenues reportedly doubled from $131 million in 2001 to $262 million in 2013.

NFL Executive Vice President Eric Grubman has even said, “We have a healthy business. We are not losing money. We have never said that.” As a fun side note, Grubman’s Twitter handle is @EricNFLMoney.

Another reason for relocating the Chargers, says Aguirre, is the possibility of giving the San Diego market another NFL franchise.

“There’s no way for them to leave under the circumstances of the NFL saying we won’t give you another team. If the NFL were to say well we’ll give you another them, that’s a different story. They’re basically exploiting the fact that the NFL controls the number of teams. If you restrain trade it’s OK if it’s reasonable. If a monopoly restrains trade, then that’s a much more difficult case to make.”

Once again, Grubman’s response to whether or not San Diego would get an expansion team was less than favorable. He told the San Diego Union-Tribune it’s a “low probability.”

So if the groundwork for the lawsuit is there, another big question is money. Attorney fees are not cheap so who pays for it? Although it could be a taxpayer lawsuit, the taxpayers could avoid footing the bill.

“The taxpayers would not pay the legal fees unless the city council decided to invest in it and do it themselves,” says Aguirre. “Then it would be a combination of the city attorney and outside counsel. It could be structured in a lot of different ways.”

Taking this approach could get messy, and would likely be used only in a worst-case scenario to help level the playing field against the financial superiority in Los Angeles.

“It would not be requiring the city of San Diego to try to match the economic abilities of a much larger market like Los Angeles,” says Aguirre. “That’s the idea, to use all the arsenal if necessary.”

Aguirre would likely not be involved in the actual litigation. He suggests the same attorneys who helped the NFL players in 2011 take the lead on a lawsuit.

So what would be the underlying motivation of such a drastic course of action? To force the Chargers and local government to work together and truly pull out all the stops to make a stadium deal in San Diego.

“We are only trying,” says Jauregui, ”to help keep the Chargers in San Diego.”

Boltman is simply to make sure the Chargers don’t bolt, man.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Clock Ticks But Fortune Smiles for Federer at French Open]]> Sat, 23 May 2015 19:53:22 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP896641031794.jpg

There are two distinct sounds when Roger Federer graces the courts of Roland Garros. One is the pop of backhands and forehands kicking up puffs of red clay. The other, getting ever louder, is the scratchy tick of life's clock.

At age 33, with 34 bearing down in August, time is increasingly the enemy to Federer's quest to add to his already record haul of Grand Slam titles.

The count climbed to 17 with his seventh win at Wimbledon in 2012, when he was still a young 30-year-old. Then, abruptly, it stopped. In Federer's golden spell from 2004-2009, there were 24 Grand Slam finals. Federer played in 20 of them, winning 14. But since his 2012 Wimbledon win against Andy Murray, just one of the 10 subsequent Grand Slam finals featured the Swiss: an epic five-setter lost to Novak Djokovic last year.

Of all places for Federer to prove that he still has another major title in him, Roland Garros would seem the least favorable. The slow red dust blunts nuances of his game so effective on other, faster surfaces. Having one of the sharpest tactical minds and best right hands tennis has ever seen were never quite enough for Federer at the only major he's not won multiple times. He needed a sprinkling of luck, too. Federer's only victory at the French Open, in five finals, came in 2009 against Robin Soderling, who did him the favor of taking "King of Clay" Rafael Nadal out of the picture in the fourth round.

Good fortune, in the shape of Maria Sharapova's fingers, is smiling on Federer again this year. The defending women's champion, called upon to pluck out the seeded men's names in Friday's draw, delivered a road map that could hardly be more favorable for Federer.

Sixth-seeded Nadal and third-seeded Murray were both drawn in the half of top-seeded Djokovic. That means second-seeded Federer would only have to play, at most, one of those infernal three who beat him at the semifinal or final stage of majors in 2013 and 2014. And such a blockbuster match could only happen in the June 7 final, if Federer gets that far.

"There is a chance to go very deep," he acknowledged. "How deep remains to be seen depending on the level of play."

Federer opens his 62nd consecutive Grand Slam campaign, extending his record, on Sunday against a qualifier. In the women's championship, last year's losing finalist Simona Halep, seeded three, opens against Evgeniya Rodina, ranked 91. The 2008 champion Ana Ivanovic plays Yaroslava Shvedova, quarterfinalist in 2010 and 2012.

Federer has a relatively easy-looking path until the fourth round, where he could meet 13th-seeded Gael Monfils before a potential quarterfinal against his Davis Cup Swiss teammate Stan Wawrinka, seeded eight. In the semifinals, a possible meeting with either Japan's Kei Nishikori, seeded five, or fourth-seeded Tomas Berdych looms.

But all that is just on paper. The end, in the Wimbledon second round in 2013, of Federer's astounding streak of 36 Grand Slam quarterfinals or better punctured the idea that he's assured a place in the second week of a major tournament. Roland Garros last year ended in the fourth round for Federer, with a five-set loss to Ernests Gulbis. The Latvian, ranked 25, is in Federer's section of the draw again this year.

"There (are) a lot of good players out there that want to win the tournament that can win the tournament. Others that are dangerous on the day," Federer noted. "Whether it's in semis or in the finals, if you lose, you lose at one point or another, and that's not funny. So my objective is to not lose."

Nadal's seeding dropped lower than ever at Roland Garros this time, leaving him vulnerable in the draw, after the nine-time champion endured his worst season on clay in 10 years. The 14-time Grand Slam champion enters the tournament with five losses in 2015 on the surface where he used to be superhuman, accumulating a 66-1 record at Roland Garros.

Federer has been playing excellent tennis and has a 25-5 record in 2015. On clay, he lost a final in Rome to Djokovic after claiming an 85th career title in Istanbul. His previously aching back is now old history.

"I feel like I have had a great last 12 months," Federer said. "I've just got to make sure I adjust my game according to the playing conditions here, and then we will see how far it takes me."

After his Rome final, Federer returned to Switzerland for a family break before touching base with coach Stefan Edberg, the former player who has been instrumental in adjustments to Federer's game following a below-par 2013.

"2013 cost me a lot of energy," Federer said. "We now have a good momentum; 2014 and 2015 have been good. I feel much better. But that doesn't mean anything when it comes to results."

Time will be the judge of that.

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<![CDATA[Blackhawks Beat Ducks 5-4 in 2OT]]> Sun, 24 May 2015 08:51:47 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/blackhawks+ducks+game+4.jpg

Antoine Vermette was a healthy scratch in Game 3, but the Anaheim Ducks were left wishing he'd remained out of the lineup as his double overtime goal lifted the Chicago Blackhawks to a 5-4 victory in a wild Game 4 win Saturday night. 

The victory ties the series at two games apiece as the scene shifts back to Anaheim for Game 5 on Monday night. 

The Blackhawks needed to come out of the gate strong in this game, and that’s exactly what they did. The bottom six forwards generated some nice chances, with Teuvo Teravainen and Antoine Vermette both jumping into the play as they looked to respond positively to being scratched in Game 1. None of the early chances would fall the Hawks’ way, and Frederik Andersen made every save he needed to.

Jakob Silfverberg gave the Blackhawks a power play near the middle of the period, but in spite of quadrupling their shots on goal total from Game 3 on the man-advantage, the Hawks still couldn’t score. Bryan Bickell and Andrew Shaw provided some excellent netfront presence for the Blackhawks in the sequence, but Andersen made a couple of key saves on deflections in front.

The Ducks got a power play of their own late in the period as Brent Seabrook was sent off for slashing, but it was Chicago that gained the advantage as a result. After a collision with an official knocked Francois Beauchemin out of the play, Brandon Saad grabbed the loose puck, flew up the ice, and ripped a wrist shot past Andersen to give the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead through 20 minutes of play.

Early in the second period, the Ducks’ push back was thwarted by the Blackhawks. Jonathan Toews barely missed on a backhanded attempt near the front of the net, and then Marian Hossa had a quality scoring chance as well as he drove hard to the net off the goal line. Both plays ended with Andersen saves, and the Ducks kept the deficit at one goal.

A Corey Perry penalty gave the Blackhawks a power play later in the period, but the Ducks were given a reprieve as Chicago’s tight passing from the first period went by the wayside. They were barely able to generate any scoring chances, and Anaheim seemed to gain momentum from the failure.

Toews was sent to the box late in the period, and Corey Crawford really stepped up his game. He made a big save on Hampus Lindholm on a point shot, and then kicked across the crease to stop a Matt Beleskey rebound attempt.

Those saves helped the Blackhawks kill off the penalty, but ultimately Anaheim was able to convert when the game returned to even strength. Niklas Hjalmarsson’s clearing attempt was stopped at the blue line by Francois Beauchemin, and the defenseman found Kyle Palmieri in the middle of the ice. The forward fired a shot toward the net, and an Emerson Etem screen kept Crawford from tracking the shot and the Ducks tied things up at 1-1.

As soon as the teams skated onto the ice for the third period, the floodgates opened. The Blackhawks landed the first two blows, scoring twice to open up a 3-1 lead. Toews scored the first one as he received a pass from Marian Hossa and lifted a shot over a sprawling Andersen to give Chicago the lead, and then Brent Seabrook racked up the second as he hammered a slap shot just inside the post to give the Hawks the lead.

In a 37-second span, the Ducks not only erased that deficit, but they took the lead. Silfverberg tossed a pass to the front of the net and Ryan Kesler hammered it home to make it a 3-2 game, and then Matt Beleskey stripped Antoine Vermette of the puck near the blue line and ripped a wrist shot over Crawford’s blocker to tie things up. Corey Perry then finished off the furious rally as he slid a soft shot over the goal line and past Crawford’s left skate to give the Ducks a 4-3 game.

The craziness still wasn’t over, as the Blackhawks tied it back up with seven and a half minutes to play. Brad Richards got a puck at the blue line, and he pinched in and hammered a slap pass to the side of the net. Patrick Kane deflected it off of his stick blade, and Andersen did the rest as he pushed the puck across the line to tie it up at 4-4.

The final seven minutes unfolded with decidedly fewer fireworks, but the Blackhawks still had a few more chances to take the lead. The best one came on a Kane stretch pass that sprung a 2-on-1 rush the other way, but Bryan Bickell’s shot rang loudly off the crossbar as the game headed to an overtime session.

In the extra period, the Ducks racked up the first nine shots on goal, but they were unable to score on any of them. The Blackhawks finally responded about nine minutes into the period, but they were unable to score on a power play as Andrew Shaw’s shot off a fat rebound from Duncan Keith went off the crossbar to keep it tied.

Beleskey had a chance denied by Crawford later in the overtime after a steal by Kyle Palmieri off of Brent Seabrook, and then Patrick Sharp had a breakaway following a gorgeous stretch pass by Teuvo Teravainen. Andersen made the save however, and the two teams headed to another overtime session.

After Perry had a couple of chances denied early in the period, the Blackhawks ultimately were able to finish off the game with a flourish. Antoine Vermette made a heroic push near the net to grab a loose puck, and his wrist shot barely curled inside the far post to give the Blackhawks the victory and tie the series up. 

The series will resume on Monday night with a critical Game 5 matchup in Anaheim. Puck drop is scheduled for 8 p.m., and the game will air on NBCSN. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Teravainen, Vermette Back in Lineup for Game 4 ]]> Sat, 23 May 2015 17:55:51 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/quenneville-1-22.jpg

The Chicago Blackhawks made some changes to their lineup before Game 3, but after the adjustments failed to work and the team looked lost on offense, head coach Joel Quenneville has reversed course and put Teuvo Teravainen and Antoine Vermette back into the lineup.

The decision to switch out those two players for Kris Versteeg and Joakim Nordstrom caught many by surprise before the game, as the coach isn’t keen to make changes to the lineup after victories. In spite of that, Quenneville did make the switch, but he quickly changed his mind after the experiment didn’t work out.

“There are some good stretches there in Game 2,” Quenneville told the media after morning skate on Saturday. “I think that line can be a factor offensively. I think defensively they've been reliable in stretches as well. Just some pace and energy across the board. That four-line rotation that we felt was best in Game 2 is what we're looking for.”

With that quote as context, the question once again begs to be asked: If the rotation worked in Game 2, why did Quenneville feel the need to make a change for Game 3? He told the media after the 2-1 loss that he wanted to get “fresh legs” into the lineup, but with both players having only played limited minutes even in a triple overtime slugfest, the reasoning rang a bit hollow in the ears of many.

Whatever the case, the return of Teravainen and Vermette should be welcome news for Patrick Sharp. He struggled mightily with Versteeg and Andrew Shaw playing on his line in Game 3, and he is one of many Blackhawks players that will need to step up their game if the team is going to win this contest and tie things up at two games apiece.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Ducks vs. Blackhawks: Three Keys to Game 4 ]]> Sat, 23 May 2015 17:55:19 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/hawks+keys+to+victory+game+4.jpg

After a lackluster Game 3 loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday, the Chicago Blackhawks will be back in action on Saturday night as they try to even up the Western Conference Final and get back on the winning track at the United Center.

The team is playing the game like it’s any other contest during the season, but the reality is that this one is as close to a must-win game as a non-elimination game can get. The Blackhawks’ chances of winning this series would take a near-fatal blow if they are forced to win three games in a row, including two on the road.

With that in mind, there are three things that the Blackhawks have to do in order to win this game and tie the series up at two games apiece.

Toews Must Be Deployed More Effectively

The Blackhawks haven’t gotten a lot of production out of their captain so far in this series, and in Game 3, it was expected that he was going to take advantage of easier matchups on the ice as the Hawks returned home.

Unexpectedly, that didn’t happen. Toews only took one offensive zone face-off at even strength in the game, and not surprisingly he struggled to generate offense as the Hawks mustered one goal as a team in the game.

If the Hawks are going to get things turned around with their top offensive line in this series, they need to make sure that Toews and company are getting advantageous matchups.

The Power Play Has to Take Advantage of Opportunities

It’s tempting to just type the word “duh” in this space and leave it at that, but we’ll elaborate ever so slightly on the point.

The Blackhawks went 0-for-5 on the power play in Game 3 and only managed one shot on goal during all of that man-advantage time. That is a preposterously bad number, and an unacceptable one when it’s carefully examined.

The Hawks must do a better job of bringing some creativity to the party on their power play, with controlled zone entries and traffic in the middle of the ice being accentuated by solid passing around the perimeter to get the Anaheim defense moving around the zone. That is the only way to break the suffocating pressure that Chicago has been dealing with, and it will be key to victory tonight.

Bottom Six Forwards Have Got to Contribute

The Blackhawks haven’t really gotten much offensive production from anybody in this series, but their bottom six forwards have to step up their game in order to take some of the pressure off of the top-tier guys as they struggle to find their form against a physical and fast Anaheim defense.

In total, the Blackhawks have scored just three times at even strength in this series, despite the fact that they have played nearly four games worth of time so far. That number has to change, and guys like Patrick Sharp, Andrew Shaw and Teuvo Teravainen are all capable of getting things rolling in the right direction.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Ducks vs. Blackhawks: Three Key Players in Game 4 ]]> Sat, 23 May 2015 17:56:24 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/corey+crawford+game+4+ducks.jpg

Thursday's loss featured plenty of failures on the part of the Blackhawks as they fell to the Anaheim Ducks for the first time on home ice this postseason, but as the team looks forward, we’re going to do the same. Here's a look at which players will need to step up their game as the Hawks try to even up the series.

Corey Crawford

The Blackhawks are a team that generally prides itself on shot suppression and solid defense, but at other times, they need a goaltender to step up and deliver a big win for them. This is definitely one of those times, and Crawford will be the man assigned with the task of helping them win in Game 4.

Crawford has been largely solid in this series, but in Thursday’s game he did make one key mistake. On Simon Despres’ goal in the second period, Crawford was slow to kick across in the crease as he followed the puck, and as a result it snuck past him and ultimately proved to be the game-winner for the Ducks.

When Crawford has those kinds of lapses, he generally bounces back stronger than ever, and that’s exactly what the Hawks will need from him on Saturday.

Patrick Sharp

Sharp received a bit of unwelcome news Thursday night as he was placed onto a newly-configured third line, and the results speak for themselves as he was once again held without a point and only managed three shots on goal in the losing effort for the Blackhawks.

That game was the third in a row that Sharp hasn’t picked up a point in the postseason, and his lack of scoring is affecting the rest of the Blackhawks as well. Anaheim may not be able to dictate line matchups off of face-offs, but in the flow of play, they are able to load up their defensive groups against the top two lines because Sharp’s line hasn’t been able to put together production worthy of concern.

That has to change on Saturday night, and Sharp is going to have to be the driving force. He is capable of peppering goaltenders with shots from all over the ice, and he has to be the one taking initiative and leading the Hawks’ bottom-six in this contest.

Jonathan Toews

It was assumed that Toews was going to be blessed with easier matchups and more space on the ice as the Blackhawks got control of final line change in the series, but Game 3 was anything but kind to the Hawks’ captain, as he managed just two shots on goal and was a big part of the reason why the Hawks’ power play was so powerless in the loss.

Simply put, that lack of production has got to change for Toews as he moves forward in this series. The Blackhawks are a much better team when he’s producing and able to command attention on offense, and he needs to step up his game in a big way on Saturday.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Hawks Recall van Riemsdyk ]]> Fri, 22 May 2015 13:45:41 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*126/456929468.jpg

The Chicago Blackhawks have been dealing with issues on their blue line throughout the postseason, but they finally got some good news on Friday as the team recalled defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk from the Rockford IceHogs.

Van Riemsdyk, who was out with a broken kneecap he suffered playing for the Blackhawks in November, suffered a second setback in March when he injured his wrist on a rehab assignment. That injury required surgery, and he was originally given an eight week timetable to return. It’s been around six weeks since the surgery, but he was out on the ice skating with the team during an optional workout on Friday.

The defenseman was having a solid rookie season before the two injuries robbed him of more playing time, picking up an assist in 18 games with the Blackhawks earlier in the year. He mostly played third defensive pairing minutes, occasionally subbing in alongside Niklas Hjalmarsson as well.

While head coach Joel Quenneville said that van Riemsdyk will not be available to the Hawks in Game 4 Saturday night, he didn’t rule him out for the remainder of the series. Even still, it seems highly unlikely that the Blackhawks would insert him back into the lineup at this stage, but if they sustain another injury on their blue line, they may feel as though they have no other course of action.

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<![CDATA[Kruger Takes No Face-Offs in Game 3, Raises Injury Concerns]]> Fri, 22 May 2015 13:43:13 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/183*120/474031896.jpg

There is plenty to take from the Chicago Blackhawks’ 2-1 loss against the Anaheim Ducks Thursday night, but one thing that isn’t getting enough attention is the fact that Marcus Kruger played almost no role in the outcome of the game.

Out of the 12 forwards that the Blackhawks dressed on Thursday, Kruger had the second-lowest ice time, skating for just under nine minutes in the game. He didn’t register a single shot on goal in the game, registered only one shot block, and didn’t take any face-offs as the Blackhawks dropped a home game for the first time this postseason.

With Antoine Vermette out of the lineup, it’s even more puzzling that Kruger played such a limited role in the Hawks’ loss. Joakim Nordstrom and Andrew Desjardins spent a lot of time playing center in the contest, and even as he struggled in his first game back in the position in several weeks, Andrew Shaw also saw plenty of action up the middle of the ice.

Of course Quenneville isn’t going to acknowledge if a player is injured at this stage of the postseason, but one has to wonder if that’s part of the reason Kruger was limited in the game. If a center isn’t taking face-offs, it usually means that he’s dealing with some type of arm injury, and even though he did score the game-winning goal on Tuesday night in Game 2, Kruger only took seven face-offs in a game that lasted for nearly six periods.

He did take a hellacious hit in the first period of that game courtesy of Clayton Stoner, so there is a very real possibility that Kruger injured himself on that play and couldn’t take face-offs. If that is an issue that’s going to carry over into games for the rest of this series, the Blackhawks are certainly facing a tough obstacle as they try to come back and advance to the Stanley Cup Final.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Police Seek Criminal Charges After Basketball Brawl]]> Fri, 22 May 2015 10:30:43 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/tlmd_basketball_generic2.jpg

Griffith police have sought criminal charges against players connected to a season-ending on-court basketball brawl in February.

The police department announced Thursday that it recommended the charges to the Lake County prosecutor’s office “after a thorough investigation and proposals for an alternative resolution were unsuccessful.”

“We have been in contact with representatives in the criminal justice system, the schools and attorneys in an effort to offer a productive and educational half-day experience for the individuals involved and are disappointed that this proposition was rejected,” Griffith Police Chief Greg Mance said in a statement. “Consequently, I reviewed and analyzed all of the evidence available and moved forward with providing the Prosecutor’s Office with the charges that fit the evidence in the case. The Prosecutor’s Office now decides whether it will move forward with the charges by filing with the court what it deems appropriate.”

In a joint statement, attorneys for both schools said they were told no charges would be brought against the student-athletes after the Feb. 7 incident.

“We were advised by the Lake County Prosecutor’s Office that no charges would be brought against any of the student-athletes involved in the February 7, 2015, incident, which was communicated to the Chief of Police in Griffith,” Rhett Tauber, an attorney for Griffith High School, and Michael Jasaitis, an attorney for Hammond High School, said in a statement. “Thus, upon that reliance, any alternative proposal became moot. Therefore, we are hopeful that the recommendations brought will be examined and rejected accordingly.”

The Northwest Indiana Times reports that while police did not name the people involved or the specific charges sought, the recommendation involves juveniles from both basketball teams and an adult.

The brawl has been a source of criticism for both teams, with the Indiana High School Athletic Association canceling the remainder of their basketball seasons.

The governing body is also suspending the schools from participating in the boys state basketball tournament and directed that Sectional 17, hosted by Hammond Gavit, be reconfigured as a five-team tournament. The two schools were also told to pay a $500 forfeiture fee to each hosting school remaining on their schedules for away games.
 


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