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Motivated Crawford hopes to prove doubters wrong

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Motivated Crawford hopes to prove doubters wrong

Corey Crawford saw the stories this summer, saw that the Chicago Blackhawks went after future Hall-of-Fame goaltender Martin Brodeur at the start of free agency.

As much as the Blackhawks said they were simply going after a good player, that it had nothing to do with their confidence level in Crawford, it seemed like there were doubts. But for Crawford, all of that didnt matter.

He had bigger concerns.

Having a chance at a guy like that, hes a great goaltender. At the same time, I cant focus on that stuff, Crawford said at the convention this weekend. I have to worry about what Im doing, how Im preparing myself this season. You start listening to that stuff, itll be a distraction.

Yeah, a teams seemingly wavering confidence in you can be distracting. But the Blackhawks didnt get Brodeur, and who the hell knows whats going on with Roberto Luongo hes going to Florida, hed like Chicago, but Florida is definitely where hed like to play, etc.

So after all that goalie hoopla this summer, one thing is clear right now: Crawford is still the No. 1 guy. And this season he has to get back to playing as such.

You cant win without goaltending; thats been preached throughout the league. The Los Angeles Kings exemplified that this season, especially in the playoffs. So this season Crawford needs to be back to the goalie he was his rookie season, the goalie the Blackhawks undoubtedly believed in when they signed him to a three-year deal in the summer of 2011.

And thats where he wants to be.

Im excited to play hockey. I just want to get out there and compete, he said. I just have to go out there and play well and show them. Thats all I can do on my part.

Goaltending coach Stephane Waite was asked at a coaching session this weekend what he does when his goaltender is going through low points.

Ill have an answer for him, and you have to be very positive, especially with goalies, he said. When hes not doing well, we adjust. Theres a lot of video and I just tell him, Dont worry, we know whats wrong and well adjust. Dont create a doubt in your mind. You fix the problem, turn the page and move on.

Waite and Crawford probably did that drill a few times last season, and at times it looked like it worked. Then Crawford would struggle again. So whatever the issue was be it mechanical or mental Crawford will look to eradicate it this season.

If not, the Blackhawks may be pursuing another goaltender next summer.

Im definitely motivated, he said. I want to do well, I want to be the No. 1. guy here. No matter what happens outside of my situation, it doesnt change what Im doing.

Nerds in Sports DeadTalk: Walking Dead S8 E1 "Mercy"

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Nerds in Sports DeadTalk: Walking Dead S8 E1 "Mercy"

From the makers of the Game of Thrones Recaps, Nerds in Sports returns weekly breakdowns for the latest season of “The Walking Dead.” Michael Piff is joined by Nerds in Sports n00bs Scott Changnon and Matt Buckman to recap the 100th episode and Season 8 Premiere of the zombie phenomenon.

Our DeadTalk trio give their general reactions to TWD’s return, Rick’s attack on Negan’s camp, what’s with the time jumps, Weird Al?, and what’s next for the survivors. We also give bold predictions for the season, our reasons for still watching after 100 episodes, and open the floor to questions from listeners. React and ask along by tweeting @NerdsInSports!

Blackhawks mailbag: Defensive challenges and happy campers

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks mailbag: Defensive challenges and happy campers

The Blackhawks entered this season with the same mantra they have countless others: get off to a good start and save yourself a point chase at the end of the season.

My first season on the beat was probably the Blackhawks’ best lesson lately on what happens when you’re scrambling late; they just about missed the playoffs, losing to Detroit in the regular-season finale and needing Minnesota to beat Dallas to get into the postseason. And while the overall results have been a mixed bag, their opening record (5-2-2) isn’t shabby.

Still, there are questions regarding where the Blackhawks are and where they’re heading. To that end (yeah, we’re finally getting to the point of this whole spiel), we bring you this week’s mailbag:

The Blackhawks’ happiness with Tanner Kero was partly because of Kero’s work last season. But in terms of comparing to other centers, Kero’s emergence had more to do with replacing Dennis Rasmussen than it did Marcus Kruger – Kero re-signed with the Blackhawks around the same time talks reportedly went awry between the team and Rasmussen. Anyway, back to Kero. I don’t think it’s so much what he’s not doing as what Tommy Wingels is doing in that fourth-line spot. The Blackhawks originally envisioned Wingels at wing but he has previous experience at center and his work there has been pretty good. Saturday night’s game certainly helps, be it for Wingels alone or keeping that fourth line together (he, John Hayden and Lance Bouma, who scored the game-winner). Don’t be surprised if there’s some rotation there, though.

Maybe, although either of those guys will likely still be rotating in/out with another player. Just depends on how much the Blackhawks want those guys playing constantly (I would guess that would be the case with rookie Matthew Highmore more than Hinostroza).

We all know this contract, all know how it hamstrings the Blackhawks for a while. But in the immediate future, what can you do? Fellow scribe Mark Lazerus has asked a few times about Seabrook’s place in the lineup and coach Joel Quenneville has demurred. Granted, we’re guessing general manager Stan Bowman doesn’t want Seabrook out of the lineup, either. Seabrook’s leadership skills are tremendous; to a man, the Blackhawks will say how vocal he is. His past work, especially in the playoffs, speaks for itself. It depends on how things progress as the season goes but I don’t foresee Seabrook coming out of the lineup right now. Speaking of Seabrook…

Highly doubt it. The asking price won’t be just one guy for another. And with any trade talk I remind everyone to see a player’s NMC status. Seabrook has a full no movement clause.

Nope, he’s not going anywhere, as the traveling media confirmed with Quenneville on Monday afternoon in Las Vegas. I had to be reminded that DeBrincat was nearing that deadline on Sunday, his status not coming up in conversations with Quenneville and Stan Bowman like it did when Brandon Saad made the team at 19. DeBrincat has made such an impression that it was going to take something extraordinary for the Blackhawks to reassign him. DeBrincat has found his place in the lineup and whether or not he’s been scoring he’s been good. So here, he remains.

You don’t trade him. The Blackhawks are where they are right now due in large part to their goaltending, especially Crawford. There have been, what, two games in which the Blackhawks dominated? So no, you don’t trade Crawford.

We’re quite a while from the trade deadline, so let’s tap the breaks on any talk about what the Blackhawks may do several months from now. As far as Murphy’s current status, no, I don’t believe his job is in jeopardy. Again, part of this is the eight-defensemen situation. But it’s also getting Murphy more ingrained in the system. I talked to Dave Tippett, Murphy’s former coach, a few weeks ago. He said, “we put him into situations he may not have been ready for [with Arizona], but he always continued to improve in those situations. He still has a lot of growing to do but he’s a very dedicated athlete and I think there’s a lot of upside there.” It’s easy to look at who the Blackhawks traded away for Murphy and Murphy’s contract and say, “yeah, he should be an everyday guy.” He should be at some point but considering what I mentioned above, I’m not surprised he isn’t right now. Speaking of defensemen rotating in and out of the lineup…

Yeah, I’m still not a big fan of the eight-defensemen set, for the reason you just mentioned. I wrote about the Blackhawks’ defensive juggling act on Sunday and, while I still think it’s tough to do I believe the Blackhawks will stay with it for a while. I list some reasons in Sunday’s story, which is linked above. So far (judging from outward appearances) the defensemen seem to be on board with the changes. I’m just curious to see how long they can keep the balance to where no one is sitting too long. That’s always the challenge.

Signing Cody Franson was part of the short-term plan regarding the long-term injured reserve funds. I think the Blackhawks just let things play out now for a while. You’re not going to make a move based on the first month of the season.

Yeah, someday I will stop writing about the power play’s woes but it won’t be today. I personally don’t think it’s the personnel. Whenever we talk about this it’s usually the same culprits: lack of movement, not enough shots and net-front traffic. I still say a strong penalty kill is more important and if the Blackhawks’ 5-on-5 scoring increases the power-play concerns fade. But it has cost them, so it’s certainly a concern.

I wouldn’t take the stern expressions as a sign of unhappiness. I’ve seen them plenty of times arriving at an arena looking like that; just focused before a game.

Going to go with a B-plus mainly because they came out of those first eight games with a pretty solid record. Granted, goaltending deserves a massive pat on the back for that. But it’s still early and I still figure the lines will get rolling at some point. Penalty kill has been very good and power play absolutely has to get better.