Blackhawks

Blackhawks

The absolute least of the Blackhawks' concerns this season has been their goaltending. Pretty much from the start of the season, Robin Lehner and Corey Crawford were incredibly reliable last lines of defense. What was transpiring in front of them has had the Blackhawks up and down.

The efficient goalie tandem predominately worked as equal partners. Lehner and Crawford were neck and neck with the number of games they started until recently. 

Lehner got the net Tuesday in Calgary (5-3 win), which marked the first time a Hawks goalie started three consecutive games this year. He also got the nod Thursday in Vancouver, a 7-5 loss in which he injured his right knee late in the third period but remained in the game. Lehner missed Saturday's practice due to the injury and goalie Kevin Lankinen was recalled from Rockford of the AHL.

If Lehner were to miss notable time in the crease, it would be an opportunity for Corey Crawford to take back the net and the No. 1 goalie role he used to help grab Chicago two Stanley Cups. 

"Good opportunity for him," Patrick Kane said of Crawford. "Obviously Lenny's been amazing for us this year. He's been our best player, most consistent player all year and a big reason why we're kind of in what you'd call a playoff hunt right now. 

"I think this is probably the situation they maybe thought of when you signed both guys. If one gets injured you have the other one available and ready to go. I think Crow's probably looking forward to the opportunity, he's a great goaltender. He's even played very well for us this year, so I'm sure he's excited about getting back in there."

 

This season, Crawford is 6-11-2 with a 3.20 goals-against average, a .905 save percentage and one shutout in 20 games (19 starts).

"I've got some experience, so just try to work as hard as I can in practice and hopefully I have good feelings as soon as I get in a game," Crawford said.

That game is expected to be Sunday against the Red Wings in Chicago, as Blackhawks head coach Jeremy Colliton said Lehner's injury is day-to-day.

At 35, Crawford thinks he can still be a difference maker for the Blackhawks.

"I definitely think I can still make an impact," Crawford said. "But Lenny's been playing great so [Colliton's] choice was to stick with him and we got some big wins. For me it's just to stay ready and obviously I get a chance here so just trying to be ready." 

Crawford last started on Dec. 23 in a 7-1 loss against the New Jersey Devils at the United Center. He was pulled in the second period after the Hawks allowed four unanswered goals to trail 4-1. 

"That Jersey one was obviously a rough one," Crawford said. "I don't think I've been playing bad. Just got to make that extra big save, I think. I've had some good starts. I don't know. 

"I just got to keep going, keep working hard. It's not going to be easy so just be prepared. Just play hockey."

Colliton isn't worried about Crawford having any rust after not playing in almost two weeks.

"He’ll be ready," Colliton said. "He’s been working hard in practice; he’s been great in practice. He’s been good for us this year so we’re excited to see him react to the opportunity."

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