There's good news and bad news surrounding Corey Crawford's injury status as the Blackhawks returned to practice on Friday from their league-mandated bye week.
The good news is, Joel Quenneville remained confident that his star goaltender will return at some point this season. The bad news is, "we haven't seen much progress" even though Quenneville reiterated "we expect him to be fine" in the long run.
The latter is relatively concerning given it's been nearly a month since Crawford was last seen on the ice in a game setting or in any fashion, but it's certainly a positive sign that the Blackhawks haven't wavered on their expectation that he'll return this season after reports surfaced over the week that there was growing concern he wouldn't due to vertigo-like symptoms.
Here's what we know, via Quenneville: Crawford is recovering in Chicago and has remained in communication with the medical doctors, who are monitoring his progress. His workouts "haven't been much," and "we'll get a better idea when he starts working out and how close he can be to being on the ice" when that does happen.
Quenneville also said "I don't think there was a defining blow" when Crawford suffered the injury, which adds to the uncertainty on the timeframe for Crawford's potential return.
Asked whether or not long-term injured reserve is a possibility, Quenneville responded: "I don't think that's a need for us right now, so I think that's not part of the discussion." Putting Crawford on LTIR would open up significant cap space, but it would also require him to be out for a minimum of 10 games or 24 days and the Blackhawks aren't prepared to put a restriction on his possible return date.
What they are prepared to do is keep rolling with Anton Forsberg and Jeff Glass down the stretch while Crawford continues to recover, and Quenneville was very confident in the duo.
"Our goaltending, all year, has given us a chance to win every single game," Quenneville said. "This year it’s probably been the reason we’re still in the playoff hunt. They’ve done a good job without [Crawford]."
But it appears it'll be a committee approach for the time being.
"If you have an opportunity to keep the net, it’s where it’s been," Quenneville said. "They’ve both been comparably competitive and both been fine. It’s been an easy decision, keep the net when you’re going well. Whether it becomes one guy’s net will be determined."
— Artem Anisimov (lower body) was a full participant in practice, but has been ruled out for Saturday's game against the New York Islanders. He said he feels "100 percent" healthy but is trying to get caught up on conditioning. Quenneville is hopeful he'll be ready to go Monday against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
— Erik Gustafsson was skating on a pairing with Brent Seabrook, and also was on the second power play unit. All indications point to the 25-year-old defenseman making his season debut Saturday. "Good option, good opportunity," Quenneville said. "We’re not for sure but certainly he’s been around, he’s eager to go. I look forward to seeing what he can do."