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  • 18 Feb
    导出博客文章SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Notre Dame is eager to show the college basketball world
    what its got.After back-to-back NCAA Tournament regional final appearances, the
    only school to accomplish that feat the past two years, expectations outside the
    locker room were lower this season after the Fighting Irish lost last seasons
    two leading scorers, Demetrius Jackson and Zach Auguste. The Irish were picked
    in the preseason to finish seventh in the Atlantic Coast Conference.The Irish
    players have been talking all along about the possibility of being even better
    than last season. So far, theyve looked looking pretty good as they moved into
    the Top 25 for the first time this season on Monday at No. 23.Weve got a little
    more here than everybody thought, coach Mike Brey said.The Irish are 8-0,
    matching their best start in 17 seasons under Brey and are averaging 89.1 points
    a game, also the best under Brey through eight games, and 10th in the nation
    overall.The Irish are playing a more wide open style, depending less on ball
    screens to get open shots.Now were just swinging it and cutting and things like
    that. I think were getting out in transition more, too. Thats one thing thats
    been great for us, said forward V.J. Beacham said.The Irish also are playing
    better defense, too, something the Irish havent been known for under Brey. Notre
    Dame is holding opponents to 62.6 points a game, 39th in the nation, and to 36.7
    percent shooting, 17th in the country. Senior guard Steve Vasturia said he
    believes it could be the best team defensively hes been on.Lets see if we can
    continue to get better, Vasturia said.The Irish also are leading the nation in
    free-throw shooting at 85.8 percent.If we miss, Ill bet the crowd will just walk
    out of the building, Brey joked.Both Beacham and Bonzie Colson, who has had five
    straight double-doubles, are leading the Irish in scoring, averaging 17.1 points
    each. Vasturia is averaging 15.9 points and the Irish have nine players
    contributing regularly, which is more than Brey usually uses. Brey said he likes
    the intensity of Rex Plfueger, Notre Dames best defender, and T.J. Gibbs.They
    give you a great energy boost and defensive boost when theyre in there, Brey
    said.Critics will say the Irish havent played anyone yet, with Colorado (6-2)
    and Northwestern (6-2) the only teams theyve faced with winning records. That is
    about to change. The Irish host upstart IPFW (7-2) on Tuesday two weeks after
    the Mastodons upset Indiana, then play No. 1. Villanova at Newark, New Jersey,
    on Saturday and No. 18 Purdue a week later in Indianapolis.Its a great stretch
    for us to make a run, Beacham said.The Irish are the last unbeaten team left in
    the ACC and a win Tuesday night would make it the fourth-best start in school
    history, ranking behind 1945-46 (13-0), 1973-74 (12-0) and 1933-34 (11-0).Brey
    is enjoying watching the Irish.Theyre really special the way they like playing
    together, sharing the ball. Youve got skilled shooters with skilled passers, its
    just fun to watch, he said.---More AP college basketball: and
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    . The Montreal Canadiens announced on Friday that
    the veteran forward will return to the teams line-up on Saturday night when the
    Habs visit the Nashville Predators.
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    . -- Brandon Jennings made the most of his first game
    with the Detroit Pistons on Sunday night.
    . "Trying to breathe," he said with a grin. Bernier stopped 42 of 43 shots on
    Monday night, including all 22 in a hectic middle frame, his heroic performance
    propelling the Leafs toward an undue point in their final game before the
    Christmas break.
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    . There are surprises among the Vezina candidates, but most
    of the others are standard top-tier performers, even if the two Hart Trophy
    runners-ups have never been quite as good as they have been through the first
    half of the season. CHICAGO -- It was a wrist shot for Andrew Shaw, who leaned
    back and yelled after his first-period score. Brent Seabrook got in on the
    action, and Bryan Bickell and Michal Handzus added two more goals on consecutive
    shots in the second. And just like that, Jonathan Quick was gone. The Chicago
    Blackhawks chased the Los Angeles Kings standout goalie during an impressive
    display in the opening two periods of a 4-2 victory Sunday night in Game 2 of
    the Western Conference finals. "Its a high-speed game. If we use our speed, well
    be all right," Shaw said. "We played our game. Thats the difference. The guys
    played good. We all competed for each other. We did everything we needed to do,
    keeping it deep in the zone." Patrick Sharp and Brandon Saad added two assists
    apiece as the Blackhawks grabbed a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series with
    their fifth consecutive victory. Corey Crawford made 29 saves in another solid
    performance, drawing chants of "Co-rey! Co-rey!" from the capacity crowd at the
    United Center. "We went through a little spurt there in the last series where we
    were doing the right things but the pucks werent going in," Blackhawks captain
    Jonathan Toews said. "So now were getting the results we want. We can do what
    were doing more often. We can do it better as well in the next few games." Game
    3 is Tuesday night at Los Angeles, where the Kings have won 14 consecutive
    games, dating to the regular season. The Kings also lost their first two games
    of the playoffs at St. Louis before winning four straight to eliminate the Blues
    in the first round. Jeff Carter and Tyler Toffoli scored for Los Angeles, but
    the Kings struggled to score without Mike Richards, who was scratched because of
    an undisclosed upper body injury. The defending Stanley Cup champions have 29
    goals in 15 post-season games. "Youve got to find a way," Quick said. "They did
    their job at home. Weve got to go home and do our job now." Richards, who leads
    the Kings with 10 playoff points, was sidelined after taking a big hit from Dave
    Bolland in the final minutes of the Blackhawks 2-1 victory on Saturday. Kings
    coach Darryl Sutter said Richards was "fine" a couple of hours before the game,
    but the centre was scratched from the lineup after participating in the pregame
    warmups. "He was fine today, then I think just once his blood got pumping
    tonight, the adrenaline got going, there were symptoms," Sutter said. "I went in
    right after warmup, he was sitting there and I said, Unless youre 100 per cent,
    youre not playing." Los Angeles forward Brad Richardson and defenceman Drew
    Doughty gingerly skated off at separate points of the first period, but both
    returned to the ice. The series took on a more physical tone in the second game
    in two days -- a rarity in the playofffs brought on by The Rolling Stones
    tour.dddddddddddd The top-seeded Blackhawks also won the series opener in each
    of the first two rounds, but they dropped three in a row following their Game 1
    victory against Detroit in the conference semifinals. There was no such letdown
    this time. "It was frustrating early on, that series against Detroit, but I
    think we learned a lot there," defenceman Duncan Keith said. Shaw got Chicago
    off to a fast start, taking a nifty pass from Viktor Stalberg and beating Quick
    on the glove side just 1:56 into the game. Marian Hossa set up Seabrook in the
    final minute for a low liner into the left corner of the net. The defenceman put
    the Blackhawks into this round with an overtime goal in Game 7 against Detroit
    on Wednesday. The Blackhawks added two more in the second, separated by just
    2:09. Bickell scored a power-play goal on a rebound in front, and Handzus skated
    in and beat Quick to make it 4-0 at 9:20. "We gave them too many Grade-A scoring
    chances, and they capitalized," Kings defenceman Rob Scuderi said. "You cant
    give up those opportunities and expect your goalie to bail you out every single
    time." The crowd of 21,824 roared after Handzus second goal of the post-season,
    and cheered even louder when Quick skated off and was replaced by Jonathan
    Bernier. Quick, last years playoff MVP who had played every minute of this years
    playoffs, finished with 13 saves. "We had some nice shots. We had some
    high-quality stuff off the rush, as well, in that period," Blackhawks coach Joel
    Quenneville said. "I still think thats going to be an ongoing challenge with
    him." Carter converted a one-timer at 18:57 of the second, and Toffoli netted a
    power-play goal with 1:02 left in the game, but that was it for the Kings. The
    Blackhawks killed three other power plays and have allowed just two goals in 47
    attempts in the playoffs. Crawford was saluted by the crowd after he stopped
    Dustin Penner on a quality opportunity late in the second, and the chants
    resumed when he pulled Kings forward Kyle Clifford off Toews during a scrum with
    8:45 left. "The guy grabbed him, got a couple free shots. I figured it was
    enough," Crawford said. "I just decided to go in there and grab his head."
    Crawford was one of the top goalies in the NHL during the lockout-shortened
    regular season, and he has carried that into the playoffs. He has allowed just
    one goal in four of his last six games. "Hes the guy we want in net back there,"
    Sharp said. "Hes proven it in the past. Its nice to see him finally get the
    credit that he deserves." NOTES: Kings rookie D Jake Muzzin was scratched after
    playing in the first 14 post-season games. ... Crawford was 1-1 with a 3.54
    goals-against average against Los Angeles during the regular season.
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