Monday, April 29, 2013

Chicago Bears 2013 Draft Review: Boom or Bust

After a long, built up, free agency filled with highs (the signings of Martellus Bennett and Jermon Bushrod), lows (cutting ties with Brian Urlacher in a cold, disrespectful way) and everything in between, the Bears finally had the opportunity to address any remaining needs through the draft. This was Phil Emery's second opportunity to distance himself from the woeful draft day selections of his predecessor, Jerry Angelo, and prove that his reputation as a top scout could show up on draft day. After mixed reviews and on-field results from his 2012 draft, he had a lot to establish. Now obviously, deciding whether a draft is successful or not could take years to really evaluate, but from where we stand right now the Bears and Emery finished with an average draft, due in large part to a bad first round pick.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Full Strength Blackhawks Surge Towards Playoffs

Last night was the first game in over a month that the Blackhawks played a game at full strength. Last night was also the first game they've played after they became the first NHL team this year to clinch a playoff spot. So what better timing then for the best team in the NHL to start positioning itself for a deep run into the postseason? Getting Marian Hossa back, who actually returned before last night's game, as well as Patrick Sharp, gives the Hawks their full depth chart. Yes, the same depth chart that went over half the season before losing in regulation. A roster with a healthy Sharp and Hossa together hasn't lost in regulation all season. Barring any drastic injuries, this bodes well for the team moving forward.

I guess it'd be a misnomer to say that the Hawks are full strength as Dave Bolland has been out. But as the second line center is not expected to be out long, the Hawks look primed to get the team ready for a deep run into the playoffs. Since Hossa and Sharp went down, the Hawks have struggled (or maybe their version of struggling). Their remarkable depth took a hit as two of their best two way forwards were missing from the lineup. You can see the impact in a weak effort on the power play as of late and the team's struggles in the third period as well. Players like Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews were logging minutes usually reserved for defensemen like Duncan Keith. Now, though, the team can flatten out, sort out where to fit everyone on each line, and finish the season strong.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Chicago Cubs 2013 Preview: One Step Closer to Relevancy

In case you hadn't noticed amidst the Bulls/Derrick Rose storyline, the Bears moving on from Brian Urlacher, the Blackhawks getting past the halfway point in the NHL season without a regulation loss, and a thrilling NCAA Tournament, the Chicago Cubs begin the 2013 MLB season tomorrow. This is Year 2 in the Theo Epstein era, one where the Cubs supposedly take that leap forward closer to relevancy. After all, we were told from the beginning that 2014 is the year, the season that the Cubs can actually plan for and head into the season planning to compete. If that storyline holds, that would make 2013 really the final full-on rebuilding season before we can be a real MLB contender. I don't know how much of that is actually true, but the Cubs do have an opportunity to climb out of the MLB cellar this season and start moving, ever so slightly, towards being a consistently good franchise.