Anisimov, Hossa Among Hawks Out vs. Blues Thursday

Also out for the Blackhawks are three different forwards, including Artem Anisimov, who was knocked out of Tuesday’s win over the Arizona Coyotes after being slammed into the boards by Antoine Vermette. Joel Quenneville is optimistic that Anisimov will be ready for the postseason, but he’s not taking any chances with a critical piece of the team’s vaunted second line.

The player who normally would replace Hossa on the top line is also out however, as Andrew Shaw will miss another game. His prognosis is less rosy for the playoffs, as the team hasn’t made a ruling on when or if he’ll be back in the near future.

Finally, Duncan Keith will miss his fourth game due to the suspension that he received after slashing Charlie Coyle in the face in a game against the Minnesota Wild last month.

As for how the Blackhawks will lineup, Quenneville has been forced to get creative with his roster. Jonathan Toews and Andrew Ladd will be joined by Richard Panik, who scored a goal in Tuesday’s win over Arizona. Teuvo Teravainen will also move back up in the rotation after the Anisimov injury, centering Artemi Panarin and Patrick Kane.

The bottom two lines are where things get really interesting. Andrew Desjardins will serve as the third line center in Thursday’s game, with Bryan Bickell and Dale Weise as his wingers, and Marcus Kruger will take care of fourth line duties with Tomas Fleischmann and Brandon Mashinter.

Fortunately for the Blackhawks, they aren’t the only ones who will be shorthanded on Thursday night. The Blues will be missing captain David Backes, and they’ll also be without Steve Ott in the game. Jay Bouwmeester is questionable as well, according to the team.

Last year, more than 200,000 people visited the new draft experience for pro-football fans, which included a free-family venue known as “Draft Town.” The attraction allowed fans to test their football skills – from kicking a field goal to running a 40-yard dash against a virtual NFL player.

Unfortunately for the Blackhawks, the Predators also won on Saturday, leaving the Blackhawks with a slim two-point lead with seven regular season games left to play.

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Lakers’ Young Addresses Video Implying He Cheated on Azalea

Los Angeles Lakers rookie D’Angelo Russell and teammate Nick Young addressed a media firestorm Wednesday after Russell allegedly recorded secret video of Young talking about encounters with women other than his fiancée, rapper Iggy Azalea.

“I wish I could make things better right away, but I can’t,” he said.

In responding to a question about whether he knew how the video had leaked, Russell said, “honestly, no,” adding, “It was for my eyes, his eyes only.”

“I don’t have a clue how that got out there,” Russell said. “If I know the answer to that I would let you guys know. I didn’t put that out there.”

He ended by saying “the damage has been done.”

“The best thing you can do is own up to it, and that’s what I did,” Russell said. “I’m owning up to it to full effect and taking what comes with it.”

Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith has been suspended for six games by the NHL for his slash against Minnesota Wild forward Charlie Coyle, the league’s Department of Player Safety announced Friday.

Keith was assessed a 10-minute match penalty for the play, which carried with it an automatic ejection from the contest and a suspension for the Blackhawks’ game Friday night against the Winnipeg Jets.

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New England Patriots Players, Fans Have Fun at Parade

Giddy fans of the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots chanted “Brady! Brady!” and clambered atop massive snowbanks for better views as players danced and waved their way through Boston in a Wednesday parade celebrating their fourth NFL title.

A few parade watchers furtively sipped from small bottles of booze to keep warm.

Carl Estrelle of Cambridge wore a white T-shirt saying “deflate this” – a reference to allegations that the Patriots used underinflated footballs in their AFC championship win against the Indianapolis Colts. But he made his loyalties clear.

“That was the best championship,” he said. “They deserved to win. They did their job.”

Near the city’s snow-blanketed Common, a chant of “Boston Strong” went up, and some revelers tried to get a wave going before midday fireworks at City Hall Plaza.

Others found a better perch in the warmth of fast-food eateries.

“This is the best view,” said Chris Cunningham of South Kingston, Rhode Island, watching from inside a Dunkin’ Donuts storefront.

According to Boston police, four people were arrested at the parade. Three people were arrested on drinking charges, while another person faces an assault and battery with a dangerous weapon charge after throwing snowballs at an officer.

The MBTA has said commuters should continue to see delays into Wednesday. Old equipment and snow-removal impacted services Tuesday, causing hours of delays for some passengers.

Buses will continue to replace Mattapan Trolley service between Ashmont and Mattapan stations throughout the day.

Passengers can check updates on schedules on the MBTA website.

In addition, passengers looking to use MBTA services to reach the parade are encouraged to check schedules for reaching the parade route.

Sunday’s 28-24 victory over the Seattle Seahawks was New England’s fourth championship and their first in a decade, and that brought exuberant fans out into the winter chill.

“I’m freezing but it’s been great. It’s exciting,” said Annie Cushing, of Quincy, wearing a Rob Gronkowski jersey and a homemade Lombardi trophy hat made of tin foil and tape. The real Gronk drew laughs with hip-hop dance moves and a goofy cap featuring a one-eyed “Minion” character.

By the granary burial ground where famous Bostonians were laid to rest, a boy held high a sign on a wooden picket saying: “13 years old, nine championships,” a nod to the city’s other successful sports franchises.

Well-wishers blew kisses, pumped their fists and screamed themselves hoarse from behind barriers as the team rolled through downtown aboard the World War II-style amphibious “duck boat” vehicles that have become a staple of the city’s championship parades.

Some fans defied police warnings and climbed on giant piles of snow left from last week’s blizzard to get a glimpse of quarterback Tom Brady, coach Bill Belichick and other players and their wives and girlfriends as a truck blew plumes of confetti into the air.

The crowd roared as a smiling Belichick and his players snapped selfies and took turns waving the Lombardi trophy. Dozens of police officers on foot secured the convoy as it rolled down Boylston Street and past the finish line of the Boston Marathon, where two bombs killed three people and wounded more than 260 others in 2013.

Fans sported No. 12 Brady jerseys, shouted the MVP’s name and held “We are the CHAMPIONS” placards. One had a sign that read: “Belichick for President.”

A beaming Brady held his young son, Benjamin, who grinned and waved to the crowd.

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NBA’s Stephen Curry Named AP Male Athlete of the Year

“Steph actually looks different,” ESPN analyst Jalen Rose said. “Like the best player in the league usually is also physically opposing — 6-6 plus, scowl on his face, menacing. With the attitude that we appreciated because like a Michael Jordan or Shaquille O’Neal, or Kobe Bryant, you know, just a cutthroat nature. Steph allows us into his living room. We see him on a national stage be a son, a dad, a husband, a father, a brother. And he does all of it while continuing to improve.”

Curry has improved his scoring from 23.8 points per game to 30.8 — the biggest one-year jump ever by an MVP — prompting Rose to say that Curry could be the most improved player and repeat as MVP this season in a remarkable tribute to the offseason work he put in even after winning a title.

He has become much more efficient scoring on drives and has amazingly added range to his already record-setting 3-point shooting. Curry can consistently make shots from 28 feet out as he is on pace to shatter his own record of 3-pointers made in a season.

Stephen Curry’s greatness as a basketball player can be measured by his record-setting shooting numbers that are changing the game.

His immense popularity derives from something less tangible.

While American Pharoah got three more first-place votes than Curry’s 24, Curry appeared on 86 percent of the 82 ballots that ranked the top five candidates. More than one-third of the voters left American Pharoah off their list.

“That’s a real honor,” Curry said. “I’m appreciative of that acknowledgement because it’s across all different sports. … It’s pretty cool.”

Curry has become the face of the NBA this past year. His jersey is the best-seller in the league, his team’s games get record television ratings at home and in opposing markets and even his 3-year-old daughter Riley became a star by overshadowing her dad at playoff news conferences.

Even his intricate warmup routine has become a show for fans who get out early or even sometimes on TV pregame shows. He does an elaborate two-ball dribbling routine, works on passes and shots with both hands, takes jump shots from just inside half court and then caps it with a long-range shot from the tunnel on the way back to the locker room.

The drive to succeed is fueled by the fact that Curry got no major scholarship offers coming out of high school, he was the third point guard taken in the 2009 draft and he settled for a below-market contract extension three years ago because people questioned his durability following ankle injuries.

“The thing I would say about Steph, what makes him who he is, is that nobody has to challenge him to get to the next level because he does it on his own,” coach Steve Kerr said. “I didn’t think he could get that much better from last year but I do think he’s gotten considerably better, which is quite a feat when you’re the reigning MVP.”

While many NBA greats rely on uncommon height and athletic ability that average fans can only dream of having, Curry’s game relies on the traits that every casual player can work on: shoot, dribble and pass.

The difference is, perhaps nobody ever has put those three skills together the same way Curry has the past year as he has dominated on the court and made the once downtrodden Golden State Warriors the NBA’s must-watch team.

“The way that I play has a lot of skill but is stuff that if you go to the YMCA or rec leagues or church leagues around the country, everybody wants to shoot, everybody wants to handle the ball, make creative passes and stuff like that,” he said. “You can work on that stuff. Not everybody has the vertical, or the physical gifts to be able to go out and do a windmill dunk and stuff like that. I can’t even do it.”

That’s about all Curry is unable to do on the basketball court. His amazing year, in which he won an MVP, led Golden State to its first title in 40 years and helped the Warriors get off to a record-setting start this season, earned him The Associated Press 2015 Male Athlete of the Year.

Curry finished first in a vote by U.S. editors and news directors, with the results released Saturday. He joined LeBron James, Michael Jordan and Larry Bird as the only basketball players to win the honor in the 85 years of the award. Curry beat out golfer Jordan Spieth, who won two majors, and American Pharoah, who became the first horse since 1978 to win the Triple Crown.

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Play Ball! 10 Things to Watch in 2015 Major League Baseball

Play Ball! 10 Things to Watch in 2015 Major League Baseball

The Cardinals beat the Cubs 3-0 to open the 2015 Major League season in a nationally televised game Sunday, to be followed by 14 games Monday. A quick look at 10 things to watch over the 162-game schedule:

1. San Francisco Giants

Can the Giants break their odd-year streak? The defending World Series champs have won three championships in the even years of 2014, 2012 and 2010 but have flopped in 2011 and 2013. What will 2015 bring? Third baseman Pablo Sandoval is gone and outfielder Hunter Pence will miss the start of the season with a broken bone in his left forearm. Will all those postseason innings last season hurt Madison Bumgarner in 2015?

2. Kansas City Royals

K.C. caught everyone by surprise in 2014, winning a wild card and storming through the American League playoffs with a mix of terrific pitching, great defense and timely hitting. But can they do it again? The American League Central is tough Detroit, Cleveland and the Chicago White Sox appear loaded and the Royals may have trouble replicating the magic they produced a year ago.

3. Washington Nationals

Does any team in the National League stand a chance against the Nats, who now have the league*s best rotation? Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmerman, Gio Gonzalez and Doug Fister give manager Matt Williams’ team an ace-quality starter every game and the Nats have Tanner Roark (who won 15 games with a 2.79 ERA last season) in the wings if they need him. Plus, the lineup is talented and deep.

4. Mike Trout

He*s just 23, but Trout is at a key point in his career. The Angels center fielder won the American League MVP award in 2014 with the worst season he*s had statistically since coming to the big leagues. He hit 36 homers in 2014 with a league-leading 111 RBI, but his batting average and on-base percentage plummeted (.323 to .287 and .432 to .377) and his strikeouts increased (136 to 184). Now Trout has vowed to be more aggressive earlier in counts and to stay away from the high fastballs that ate him up in the second half of last season.

Baseball Q&A Session with George W. Bush and Rob ManfredBaseball Q&A Session with George W. Bush and Rob ManfredFormer president George W. Bush and MLB commissioner Rob Manfred sit down for a Q&A session for the baseball exhibit at the Bush Presidential Center in Dallas. Topics include the state of the game plus humorous takes on instant replay and online streaming. (Published Monday, April 6, 2015)

5. Alex Rodriguez

After being suspended all of last season, the nearly 40-year-old A-Rod is back in the Yankees lineup, now as the designated hitter. Will he be capable of adding power and stability to a lineup that needs it in 2015? Or will age and the missed season turn him into just an overpriced, over-the-hill out machine? There are signs he may be OK. Over 40 at-bats this spring Rodriguez hit close to .300. With 654 home runs, A-Rod needs seven to pass Willie Mays into fourth place all time.

6. Kris Bryant

At some point early this season, the Chicago Cubs will promote Bryant from the minors and we*ll all get to see how good this young slugger can be. Bryant, the former No. 2 overall pick in the draft, hit .425 this spring with nine home runs, but will start the season in the minors. The Cubs gain an extra season of control over his contract if Bryant stays at least 12 days at Triple-A Iowa to start the season. Cubs fans and Bryant are disappointed now, but Chicago made the smart move for the long term based on current rules.

7. Loooooong Games

Major League Baseball is determined to shorten games to better keep the interest of fans, so new rules will be in effect in 2015, including a game clock to quicken the pace between innings and pitching changes and restrictions on hitters stepping out of the batter*s box. If spring training is an indication, the rules may work. Games this spring were about 20 minutes quicker. Games last season took an average of 3 hours, 2 minutes 30 minutes longer than the average time of games in 1981.

Chatting Courtside with an NCAA PlayerChatting Courtside with an NCAA PlayerManhattan College’s Emmy Andujar talks about what it’s like to play in the NCAA tournament, his favorite teammate and getting pedicures. (Published Monday, April 6, 2015)

8. Giancarlo Stanton

Home run numbers have gone down in the post-steroid era, but one young slugger continues to put up big-time home run totals: the Marlins* Stanton, who hit 37 in 2014 despite missing over half of the last month of the season after being hit in the head with a pitch. He has hit 154 homers in five seasons. The question is, will he be the same slugger he was before being hit? Florida certainly is betting he will be. The team gave him a 13-year, $325 million extension over the offseason.

9. The Shift

In 2014, more teams than ever before shifted their infields to better defend against hitters. Using sophisticated computer charts, teams now know best how to position fielders to turn line drives into outs. It*s frustrating for some of the game*s best hitters and their fans, but the shift won*t be going away any time soon, unless hitters adapt and stop trying to pull every pitch. So in 2015 it should be interesting to see how batters evolve.

10. The Cubans

Over the past few seasons, young Cubans have made a huge impact. Sluggers such as Yoenis Cespedes and Jose Abreu and pitcher Aroldis Chapman escaped the island, made their way to America and have developed into stars. Now the crop of Cubans on big-league rosters is quickly multiplying. Among the rookies to watch in 2015 are outfielder Rusney Castillo of the Red Sox, pitcher Yoan Moncada and third baseman Yasmany Tomas of the Diamondbacks and recently signed infielder Hector Olivera of the Dodgers (who will start the season in the minors, but is 29 years old).

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