Blackhawks

Good news and bad news on injury status of Corey Crawford

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USA TODAY

Good news and bad news on injury status of Corey Crawford

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."

Other notes:

— 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."

Blackhawks edge out Senators in shootout: 'It was really nice to get a win'

Blackhawks edge out Senators in shootout: 'It was really nice to get a win'

It was a rare sight to see the Blackhawks in a shootout on Wednesday night.

It was just the second time this season — and first time at the United Center — that the Blackhawks made it past 3-on-3 overtime. 

The last came on Dec. 2, 2017, a 3-2 shootout loss to the Stars in Dallas. On Wednesday night, the Blackhawks were on the other end, beating the Ottawa Senators 3-2 in a seven-round shootout. Nick Schmaltz netted the game-winner.

"We'll take it," coach Joel Quenneville said. "I thought we had a decent game tonight. Overtime not so good, I liked the shootout victory, Fors made some big saves for us particularly as the game got deeper. Our third was OK, I thought our first two were way better, and overtime we gave up some high quality, some bells were rings for a bit there. But it was nice to see the shootout win."

Patrick Kane had a goal and an assist, recording another multi-point game, his 16th of the season.

"I mean we need every point we can get at this point," Kane said. "There's still belief in this locker room. Obviously we need to go on quite a run and have a big record here down the stretch. But take it a game at a time and nice to get two points."

Anton Forsberg was a big reason the Blackhawks even recorded those two points. The 25-year-old netminder stopped 34 of 36 shots and made a handful of big saves down the stretch.

"It was really nice to get a win for sure," Forsberg said. "I would love to have a lot more wins, but right now just gotta look forward and get as many wins as possible."

Added Quenneville: "I think it was good for him to win a game the way he did. Lot of shots were on the line, as we progressed, got deeper, hitting the point first was big for him and for us and then finding a way to get the extra one was a good win."

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

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NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Ottawa Senators tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Trade chips.

The Blackhawks have reached the point in their season where they have no choice but to become sellers before the Feb. 26 deadline, and we saw that when they traded Michal Kempny to the Washington Capitals on Monday for a conditional third-round pick in 2018. Tommy Wingels could also be an attractive piece for a team looking to fill out their depth.

The Senators will definitely be sellers, and wow do they have some names potentially on the market that can fetch large returns: Derrick Brassard and Mike Hoffman are two players who log top-six minutes on a nightly basis and also have term left on their contract, which is great for teams looking to load up for this year and beyond.

The biggest name to watch, probably in the league altogether, is Erik Karlsson, who could be on the move if a team offers a big enough package for the Senators to pull the trigger now as opposed to in the offseason if they feel him re-signing is a long shot. He was the best defenseman last season, and if a team steps up to get him, they're getting two possible postseason runs out of him.

2. Artem Anisimov's experiment at left wing not working.

Joel Quenneville has tried rekindling the magic between Anisimov, Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane as of late, only this time Anisimov is playing the wing and it just hasn't been very effective. The trio was on the ice for each of the two 5-on-5 goals the Kings scored on Monday, and Anisimov completely lost his man on the first one.

It's important to establish a consistent left winger for Schmaltz and Kane, and maybe putting Alex DeBrincat up there is something you consider going forward as part of a long-term solution. Move Anisimov back down as the third-line center to play in more of a defensive role and continue using his big body on power plays for his offensive abilities might be the best bet.

3. Win the special teams battle.

In their last meeting against Ottawa on Jan. 9, the Blackhawks went 4-for-6 on the power play and 4-on-4 on the penalty kill in an 8-2 win. And those are two areas to look out for again.

The Senators own the 28th-ranked power play with a 16.1 percent success rate and 29th-ranked penalty kill with a 74.5 percent success rate. Get ready for another offensive outburst?