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TORONTO – Jose Bautista missed his fourth consecutive game with an injured left hamstring when the Blue Jays took the field against the White Sox on Thursday night. He confirmed he wouldnt be able to play on Friday night either. But Bautista is progressing. “Better,” he said. “That is the best way I can describe it. It feels better than when it happened, better than the day after. So theres been a lot of progress. But Im obviously not ready to play, not today.” The first tests of Bautistas hamstring were passed on Monday and Tuesday. “Just to make sure I didnt need to go on the DL,” he said. The next test will be conducted on Saturday morning, hours before the third game of this four-game series. Bautista will run a series of sprints and, if his leg holds up, hell be available to at least pinch hit on the weekend. The Jays havent faced a left-handed starting pitcher since the Cardinals Jaime Garcia on June 8, a span of 17 games. Chicago will send three left-handers to the mound from Friday to Sunday, including most difficult challenges on Saturday (ace Chris Sale: 6-1, 2.27 ERA) and Sunday (Jose Quintana: 4-7, 3.69 ERA). Bautistas right-handed power bat would be especially welcomed. He admitted it can be difficult to remain patient as the hamstring heals. “Its tough because I dont want to handcuff the team by not being available,” said Bautista. “But at the same time I dont think I need the extra week to come back and, after two weeks, you normally would have to get some at-bats somewhere. I just dont want to go through that process because I dont feel like I need it.” In 77 games this season, Bautista is hitting .305/.433/.526 with 15 home runs and 59 walks to 48 strikeouts. He is baseballs leader in on-base percentage (.433) and bases-on-balls. Defensively, Bautistas eight outfield assists place him in a three-way tie for second. BAUTISTA CALLS FOR SUPPORT FOR ENCARNACION Edwin Encarnacion entered Thursdays action with 24 home runs, making him the major league co-leader with Baltimores Nelson Cruz. He is listed as a designated hitter on the All-Star fan voting ballot and currently sits fourth at the position behind Cruz, Bostons David Ortiz and Victor Martinez of the Tigers. Jose Bautista isnt happy about it. If the fans dont put Encarnacion into the game, Bautista expects the American League manager will. That man: former Jays skipper John Farrell. “How could you not pick the guy who is leading the league in home runs and RBIs?” asked Bautista. “Im surprised still that the fans havent come out and supported him better and hes not leading the votes for his position, but you cant control that as much as you can control a manager picking a player.” Encarnacion captured the imagination of Toronto fans and baseball in general with his 16-home run May. “I think, either way he should make the team,” said Bautista. “It would be a huge disappointment and let-down to all fans if you dont have a guy like Edwin dressed up for that game. No matter if its the other players or the manager picking him.” Bautista is the captain of the American League team for the annual Home Run Derby, which is held the night before the All-Star Game. Players who take part in the derby dont have to be participants in the game. However, Encarnacion has already told Bautista he wants no part of the derby. Bautista is actively recruiting potential derby-mates. He plans to speak to Chicagos rookie slugger, Jose Abreu (23 home runs) at some point this weekend. “I dont want to pick guys that dont want to do it and I dont want to force guys into doing it if they dont really feel like it, if theyre uncomfortable or they have some health issues,” said Bautista. “I want to win this, so Im not going to pick anybody who is going to be reserved in any way when they go and pick up a bat.” TOLLESONS VISION IMPROVING Steve Tolleson replaced Juan Francisco at third base in the seventh inning of Thursdays game against the White Sox, his first action on the homestand. He began suffering from dryness of the eyes and blurred vision on the last road trip. Tolleson made a Thursday visit to a cornea specialist, his fourth trip to an eye doctor in as many days, and came away with the diagnosis of an allergic reaction to contact lenses. Travis Lewis Vikings Jersey . Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema scored two goals each Wednesday night in a 6-1 rout of Schalke in the first leg of their second-round matchup. "We played a very, very good match," Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said. "We got well into the match, scored two early goals and that opened the game and left us able to counter and to use the speed of our players. Cordarrelle Patterson Vikings Jersey . Paul, MN (SportsNetwork. http://www.vikingsauthenticshoponline.com/Youth-Brandon-Fusco-Elite-Jersey/ . On Monday night, many fans in this city placed the blame squarely on the captain for his role in the James Neal overtime winner against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Paul Krause Vikings Jersey . Louis still looking for a way out of Tampa Bay, the 38-year-old NHL veteran isnt showing his cards. Joe Berger Vikings Jersey . Or take a relaxing vacation somewhere warm. Brayden Schenn and Scott Hartnell scored, Ray Emery stopped 32 shots and the Flyers beat the Calgary Flames 2-1 on Saturday for their fourth straight victory.The Chicago Blackhawks lost in Game Seven of the Western Conference Final, to the eventual Stanley Cup champions, and it says something about the calibre of this team that not winning the Stanley Cup comes as something of a disappointment. First World, Second City problems. Off-Season Game Plan looks at a Blackhawks team that may be able to bring back largely the same cast next season, and they probably should. While the Blackhawks might need to make moves if next seasons salary cap comes in lower than expected, their roster is sound and doesnt require dramatic changes. Thus, the first priority for GM Stan Bowman is to work on contract extensions for Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, the clubs two cornerstone forwards. While thats of obvious importance to the future of the franchise, both are signed for next season, so while other teams are scrambling this summer to fill holes in their lineup, the Blackhawks dont have that same urgency. They were the leagues second-best puck possession team, and if a few bounces had gone theo their way, that could have been enough to alter the outcome of the Western Conference Final. So, if the summer means a few minor changes, letting Michal Handzus ply his trade elsewhere next season and opening up a spot or two for a prospect to join the roster, well, thats an entirely reasonable plan of attack. Unless the salary cap dictates change, theres just not much incentive to dramatically change a roster that was very close to winning another Stanley Cup. Maybe the Blackhawks plan for the offseason ought to be working out in front of pictures of the Los Angeles Kings celebrating their Cup win. A little added motivation for what is looking like a very promising rivalry between teams that have won four of the past five Stanley Cups and will expect to contend for the next couple. The TSN.ca Rating is an efficiency rating based on per-game statistics including goals and assists -- weighted for strength (ie. power play, even, shorthanded) -- Corsi, adjusted for zone starts, quality of competition and quality of teammates, hits, blocked shots, penalty differential and faceoffs. Generally, a replacement-level player is around a 60, a top six forward and top four defenceman will be around 70, stars will be over 80 and MVP candidates could go over 90. Sidney Crosby finished at the top of the 2013-2014 regular season ratings at 87.12. Salary cap information all comes from the indispensable www.capgeek.com. CF% = Corsi percentage (ie. percentage of 5-on-5 shot attempts), via www.extraskater.com. GM/COACH Stan Bowman/Joel Quenneville Returning Forwards Player Rating GP G A PTS CF% Cap Hit Patrick Kane 78.42 69 29 40 69 55.1% $6.3M Jonathan Toews 78.37 76 28 40 68 59.3% $6.3M Patrick Sharp 78.38 82 34 44 78 57.2% $5.9M Marian Hossa 77.67 72 30 30 60 57.8% $5.275M Bryan Bickell 64.60 59 11 4 15 58.0% $4.0M Kris Versteeg 63.83 81 12 24 36 54.2% $2.2M Andrew Shaw 67.29 80 20 19 39 56.9% $2.0M Marcus Kruger 65.55 81 8 20 28 51.4% $1.325M Brandon Bollig 61.50 82 7 7 14 50.9% $1.25M Brandon Saad 72.04 78 19 28 47 57.7% $764K Free Agent Forwards Player Rating GP G A PTS CF% Class 13-14 Cap Hit Ben Smith 66.17 75 14 12 26 51.1% RFA $563K Michal Handzus 58.93 59 4 12 16 51.8% UFA $1.0M Peter Regin 59.12 61 4 7 11 52.6% UFA $750K In seven seasons that Patrick Kane has been in the league, hes scored 493 points, which ranks 11th. Hes a rare talent with the puck on his stick, able to create scoring opportunities either with his patience and puck skills or his ability to find an open teammate. Advanced metrics show how the Blackhawks tilt the ice in Kanes favour, starting the vast majority of his shifts in the offensive zone, and while that indicates that Kanes possession numbers could be better than theyve been over the past couple seasons, starting in the offensive zone is merely the best way to maximize his talent. His playoff performance was underwhelming, but Patrick Sharp had a fantastic season, scoring a career-high 78 points, and his 53 even-strength points ranked 11th in the league; not bad for the guy who gets lost in Kane and Toews respective shadows. He is a fine two-way player, but Sharps has made his mark as a sniper too. Since 2007-2008, Sharp has scored 194 goals, tied with Marian Hossa and one behind Jonathan Toews. Consistently mentioned as one of the best all-around players in the game, Jonathan Toews had his points-per-game decline for the first time in his career last season, and his 2.54 shots on goal per game was his lowest since 2008-2009. Toews is both a dominant possession player and a consistently high-percentage finisher. Part of the reason that Toews is such an elite finisher is that he perennially has an average shooting distance of less than 25 feet, always ranking near the top of the league. Five points away from 1000 in his career, Marian Hossa ranks seventh among active scorers (moving to sixth with Teemu Selannes retirement) and 35-year-old Hossa remains a productive first line player, a star who backchecks and, last season, faced extra tough opposition. One of the reasons that the Blackhawks are right in the title mix is that they have been able to inject young forwards into the lineup and get inexpensive production in prominent roles. Brandon Saad is an emerging power forward who struggled late in his second season, scoring one goal and six points in the last 21 regular season games, but he was a force in the postseason (scoring 16 points in 19 games) and has been a high-end possession player early in his career. Some of that has to do with playing in an offensive role with Patrick Kane, but Saad is also a beast down low in the offensive zone and that helps keep the Blackhawks on the attack. A steal of a fifth-round pick in 2011, Andrew Shaw continues to improve and had a career-high 20 goals and 39 points last season. He doesnt have the same skill as other Blackhawks top forwards, but Shaw is effective because of his relentless style of play. Coach Q made it known at the end of the season that Kane, Saad and Shaw could be a line for a long time, so Shaw can continue to improve his work in the face-off dot if hes going to man the second-line centre spot on a permanent basis. One of the reasons that the Blackhawks can turn loose their best players in the offensive zone is that they saddle Marcus Kruger with a heavy dose of defensive zone starts. Not surprisingly, his possession stats arent great, but hes better than break-even despite starting 20.9% of his shifts in the offensive zone; thats good. If not for his playoff exploits, scoring 16 goals in 42 games over the past two postseasons, Bryan Bickell might well be an obscure part of the Chicago forward group. Hes never matched the 37 points hs scored as a rookie in 2010-2011, and while hes overpaid at $4-million per, Bickell is effective enough as a complementary player. Re-acquired from Florida, Kris Versteeg wasnt as productive as he had been in previous seasons and was a non-factor in the playoffs (with three points in 15 games), so it wouldnt be out of the realm of possibility that hes moved to increase the Blackhawks cap room. At the same time, if Versteeg improves his conditioning, hed be a nice top-nine forward because, as a four-time 20-goal scorer, he knows his way around the net. The Blackhawks enforcer, with 19 fights in 125 games over three seasons, Brandon Bollig plays a similar role to Kruger, buried in the defensive zone to start, yet still managing more shot attempts than their opponents. The Blackhawks have a lot of continuity up front, if they choose to keep the same faces. Maybe Teravainen makes an impact at some point, maybe there is an inexpensive veteran added for depth, but there arent a lot of changes required. Returning Defence Player Rating GP G A PTS CF% Cap Hit Brent Seabrook 75.27 82 7 34 41 56.8% $5.8M Duncan Keith 77.86 79 6 55 61 56.6% $5.538M Niklas Hjalmarsson 66.93 81 4 22 26 53.3% $4.1M Johnny Oduya 64.75 77 3 13 16 53.dddddddddddd% $3.375M Nick Leddy 66.38 82 7 24 31 57.1% $2.7M Michal Rozsival 62.84 42 1 7 8 58.8% $2.2M David Rundblad 57.79 17 0 1 1 55.9% $785K Free Agent Defence Player Rating GP G A PTS CF% Class 13-14 Cap Hit Sheldon Brookbank 58.56 48 2 5 7 51.6% UFA $1.25M A favourite for the Norris Trophy as the leagues best defenceman, Duncan Keith had the second-best offensive output of his career, with 61 points, yet for the second straight season, he played under 25 minutes per game. Keith has been freed up, to some degree, by the Blackhawks playing Niklas Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya against the oppositions top line, so that Keith and Seabrook have more favourable matchups. While he can get beaten by speed on occasion, Brent Seabrook remains a physical force on the Blackhawks blueline. His 41 points last season was the second-best of his career, his possession stats were strong and Seabrook has missed a total of 10 games over the past nine seasons. Thats a reliable presence to have night-in and night-out. As the Blackhawks have shifted their defensive responsibilities, Niklas Hjalmarsson has been taking on the hardest assignments for the past couple seasons, and while he put up a carer-high 26 points while playing a career-high 21:17 per game last season, Hjalmarsson has proven to be very effective preventing shots against (which, it turns out, is quite useful for a defenceman). Nick Leddys role has been reduced over the past couple seasons, as hes settled on Chicagos third pairing, but Leddy continues to put up excellent possession numbers, playing well enough against lesser competition to consider the possibility that he could handle more responsibility. Over the past three seasons, most of which Johnny Oduya has spent in Chicago, Oduya has been one of the leagues best at preventing shots on goal and, over the last two seasons, its been done while facing top opposition. Hjalmarsson and Oduya arent as heralded as Keith and Seabrook, but are vital to the Blackhawks defensive effort. Michal Rozsival doesnt play big minutes for the Blackhawks, and has dressed for 69 of 130 games over the past two regular seasons, but he thrives on the third pairing, putting up tremendous possession stats. Its not looking too likely that David Rundblad will be what he was supposed to be when he arrived from Sweden, where he scored 50 points in 55 games as a 20-year-old, but played well enough in 17 NHL games last season that he could be considered for the seventh defence spot, at the very least. Returning Goaltender Player Rating GP W L OTL GAA SV% Cap Hit Corey Crawford 69.51 59 32 16 10 2.26 .917 $6.0M Free Agent Goaltenders Player Rating GP W L OTL GAA SV% Class 13-14 Cap Hit Antti Raanta 55.24 25 13 5 4 2.71 .897 RFA $1.4M Nikolai Khabibulin 30.42 4 1 0 1 5.01 .811 UFA $2.0M Corey Crawford doesnt have the rep that some other Cup-winning goalies get to revel in, but hes been above average in three of his four NHL seasons. Among the 27 goaltenders to play at least 3000 5-on-5 minutes in the past two seasons, Crawford ranks 11th with a .928 even-strength save percentage. Its reasonable enough to consider Crawford average to above average as an NHL starter, yet still have questions about whether paying him $6-million per season over the next six years is the best use of cap space. Antti Raanta was pretty good through the first half of his rookie season, particularly in December, when he was playing regularly with Crawford hurt, but from January on, Raanta had an .872 save percentage in 10 games, so that was less than ideal, but hes a good option to back up Crawford next season. Top Prospects Player Pos. Team/League Stats Teuvo Teravainen C Jokerit Helsinki (SML) 9-35-44, -2, 49 GP Ryan Hartman RW Plymouth (OHL) 25-28-53, -14, 52 GP Jeremy Morin LW Rockford (AHL) 24-23-47, +9, 47 GP Adam Clendening D Rockford (AHL) 12-47-59, +5, 74 GP Mark McNeill C Rockford (AHL) 18-19-37, -12, 76 GP Kevin Hayes C Boston College (HE) 27-38-65, +34, 40 GP Joakim Nordstrom C Rockford (AHL) 17-16-33, +9, 58 GP Stephen Johns D Notre Dame (HE) 8-12-20, +5, 40 GP Klas Dahlbeck D Rockford (AHL) 10-25-35, +21, 75 GP Phillip Danault C Rockford (AHL) 6-20-26, +11, 72 GP Dillon Fournier D Rouyn-Noranda (QMJHL) 13-19-32, +10, 36 GP One of the premier prospects outside the NHL, Teuvo Teravainen was the 18th pick in 2012 and scored 75 points in 93 games in Finland over the past couple seasons before coming to North America late last season. The 19-year-old is expected to be Chicagos number two centre, eventually, but the Blackhawks are good enough that they can take their time and make sure hes ready before getting pressed into duty. A second-round pick in 2011, Adam Clendening is a puck-moving defenceman who isnt big, and is improving his skating, but has 105 points in 147 games over two AHL seasons since leaving Boston University. Hes likely ready for a shot in the NHL, if the Blackhawks have an opening. Illinois native Ryan Hartman was the 30th pick in 2013 and the energetic winger had 113 poins and 211 penalty minutes in 108 games over two OHL seasons. A late-season look in the AHL was a good opportunity for Hartman, who contributed seven points (3 G, 4 A) in nine games. Acquired as part of the Dustin Byfuglien trade with Atlanta, Jeremy Morin is a scoring winger who is improving his skating and had a strong year in 2013-2014, scoring a point-per-game in the AHL then adding 11 points (5 G, 6 A) and strong possession numbers in 24 games with the Blackhawks. The 18th pick in 2011, Mark McNeill is a big forward who has some skill. While he slumped late in his first pro season, scoring seven points in his last 18 games, McNeill had 54 shots on goal in that span, so opportunities were still coming. If he delivers a strong year in the AHL, he should be ready to compete for a job. Drafted in the first round in 2010, Kevin Hayes had a monster senior year at Boston College, scoring 65 points in 40 games while playing with Johnny Gaudreau and Bill Arnold. Hes on the Blackhawks top prospectd list for now, but if he doesnt sign by August 15, Hayes will be a free agent, able to sign with any team. Picked in the third round in 2010, Joakim Nordstrom got into 16 games with the Blackhawks, playing a defensive role, using his speed as an asset. Stephen Johns was picked in the second round in 2010 and played four seasons at Notre Dame before joining Rockford late in the year, contributing five points (1 G, 4 A) in eight games. Hes big and moves well for his size, but needs to play with discipline as he climbs the ladder. A third-round pick in 2011, Klas Dahlbeck made nice strides in his second AHL season, enough that he cant be too far away from getting his first taste of NHL action. A two-way forward who struggled to score in his first pro season, Phillip Danault was the 26th pick in 2011. Hes only 21-years-old, so he has some time, but could use a more productive season next year. Picked in the second round in 2012, Dillon Fournier is a strong skater who was having a good season before a shoulder injury cut short his year. Hell get some time in the AHL to get stronger and develop before he gets a shot in the NHL. Blackhawks advanced stats and player usage chart from Extra Skater DRAFT 27th - Connor Bleackley, Nikolay Goldobin, Ryan MacInnis. FREE AGENCY According to www.capgeek.com, the Blackhawks have approximately $65.8M committed to the 2014-2015 salary cap for 18 players. Check out my possible Blackhawks lineup for next season on Cap Geek here. Needs: Depth forwards, one depth defenceman. What I said the Blackhawks needed last year: One top six forward, depth forwards, one or two defencemen, backup goaltender. They added: Ben Smith, Brandon Pirri, Joakim Nordstrom, Nikolai Khabibulin. TRADE MARKET Kris Versteeg, Johnny Oduya, Michal Rozsival. Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook. Wholesale NFL Jerseys ' ' '