Blackhawks

The puck stops here: Corey Crawford nets second straight shutout for Blackhawks

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AP

The puck stops here: Corey Crawford nets second straight shutout for Blackhawks

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Blackhawks have been trending in the right direction in a few aspects of their game. Their power play still isn’t great, but it’s been responsible for the game-winning goal in two consecutive contests. Artem Anisimov, after a rough start, has a four-game goal streak which includes those two power-play goals.

But the constant remains Corey Crawford, who has gone from allowing very little to nothing at all.

Crawford’s been a big topic of conversation this season and for good reason. When the Blackhawks have sputtered he’s been stellar. That continued on Saturday night when Crawford recorded his second consecutive shutout, a 24-stop performance in the Blackhawks’ 2-0 victory over the Minnesota Wild.

Crawford now has a shutout streak of 131 minutes, 15 seconds; the last goal he gave up was to Colorado’s Rocco Grimaldi 8:45 into the Avalanche’s 6-3 victory over the Blackhawks on Oct. 28.

That’s all well and good for Crawford, but he still needs more help on the other side.

“He makes big saves, key times. We just need to help him out,” Anisimov said. “[Allow] less shots. Better defensive play, the whole team.”

No argument there. The Blackhawks allowed fewer shots but those they gave up were still pretty choice. Crawford started the third period stopping breakaways by Eric Staal and Jared Spurgeon. Nino Niederreiter thought he had a goal against Crawford in the first period – lights flashed and the horn blew – but the puck bounced off the post and went back to Crawford, who leg-swept it away.

“I saw it go off the post. You kind of know where [the puck] is, so sweep and hope for the best,” Crawford said. “I don’t know. A little luck, too, I guess.”

Sure, that never hurts. But most of Crawford’s work lately has been good, not lucky. As far as the Blackhawks’ offense, they’ve eked out enough; on Saturday it was Anisimov’s power-play goal and Alex DeBrincat’s empty-net goal. Not bad, but it could be better.

“We’d still like more production but at the same time the better you check the more offense you get off it,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “I still don’t think we generated enough offense [vs. the Wild] but we didn’t mind the way we played without it. Some nights they go in.”

Blackhawks reportedly concerned Corey Crawford could miss rest of season

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks reportedly concerned Corey Crawford could miss rest of season

Corey Crawford has been out since before Christmas with an injury that the Blackhawks have only described as an “upper-body injury,” but new reporting from Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times paints a much worse picture than originally feared.

Lazerus cited three sources who said Crawford is dealing with “vertigo-like symptoms” for the second time in his career. Previously, coach Joel Quenneville was asked if Crawford would return this season and answered affimatively 10 days ago.

Crawford last played on Dec. 23 in New Jersey when he gave up three goals on seven shots and was pulled in the first period. He had been having a season worthy of putting him in the discussion for the Vezina Trophy, given to the NHL’s best goaltender.

Information on the injury from the Blackhawks has been hard to come by, which is why Lazerus’ reporting is such a big deal.

Anton Forsberg and 32-year-old rookie Jeff Glass have filled in while Crawford has been out. Crawford has a 16-9-2 record this season while Forsberg and Glass have combined to go 6-8-4.

As the Blackhawks sit outside a playoff spot for now, Crawford’s potential long-term absence could affect how the Blackhawks approach the Feb. 26 trade deadline.

Pat Boyle talked with Luke Stuckmeyer for a Facebook Live on the topic:

Ryan Hartman and the Blackhawks seem to be enjoying their bye week

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USA TODAY

Ryan Hartman and the Blackhawks seem to be enjoying their bye week

The Blackhawks are in the midst of their annual bye week during the NHL season, and they seem to be enjoying it.

Despite an ugly end to their pre-bye schedule, a 4-0 shutout loss to the Red Wings on Sunday afternoon, players went their separate ways to enjoy the break.

We found a handful of Blackhawks in Mexico - about as far away from ice as you could get - working on their tans and golf games.

Ryan Hartman’s Instagram captured a few pictures, and a video of himself teeing off shirtless, and shoeless. We're guessing they get a little more leeway on the course than you or I would.

This is the second year that all teams have at least a five-day break in their schedule. Perhaps it will allow the Blackhawks to reset and make a run at the postseason.