Blackhawks

After slow start, Corey Crawford finding his rhythm for Blackhawks

After slow start, Corey Crawford finding his rhythm for Blackhawks

Corey Crawford is seeing everything pretty clearly right now.

Just in case you weren’t sure how clearly, his numbers tell the tale: of the last 129 shots he’s faced, he’s allowed just five goals. In eight games this season, he’s allowed just four even-strength goals. And as the Blackhawks continue their ups and downs with their overall game, Crawford has been locked into this.

Crawford recorded his fourth victory of the season on Tuesday night, stopping 33 of 34 shots in the Blackhawks’ 5-1 decision over the Calgary Flames. If you didn’t see the game, the score could be misleading. The Blackhawks had a tough go of it for two-plus periods before scoring four times over the final 12 minutes, 16 seconds of the game.

“I’m feeling better and better every game,” Crawford said Tuesday night. “I’m feeling quicker out there reading plays. That’s a big part of it too, is to be able to read a play and get out and be aggressive when it’s time. Just everything is coming together each game; just went out there and battled.”

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Crawford was much like the rest of the Blackhawks at the start of the season: slow out of the gate, struggling to get his game where he wanted it to be. The World Cup of Hockey was a great experience for Crawford, who played one-and-a-half games for Team Canada. But he didn’t get a lot of work, even in practices. And while he got a lot more reps and shots when he returned to Chicago, the results weren’t there early.

“I just didn’t feel great at the start,” he said.

It didn’t help that the Blackhawks’ penalty kill was struggling. Yes, the goaltender is supposed to be the team’s best penalty killer, but players weren’t hanging all the issues on Crawford.

“He may have been a little frustrated when he wasn’t getting the wins. At the same time, he was playing well,” Patrick Kane said. “You could say none of the goals were really his fault, especially with the slump we went through with the penalty kill. He’s always solid, always big in net.”

The Blackhawks are starting to find their way again, be it with their lines, their puck possession or their penalty kill. Crawford righted his game a little sooner. He’s clearly been critical to the Blackhawks’ recent success.

“He’s a world class goalie, and to see what he’s been able to do over the last bunch of years, it’s fun playing in front of him,” Brent Seabrook said. “He always gives us a chance to win.”

Blackhawks' Alex Nylander and brother William providing meals for essential workers

Blackhawks' Alex Nylander and brother William providing meals for essential workers

During this time of a global pandemic where healthcare workers risk their well-being to keep us safe, and essential works do the same to keep business operating, many teams and athletes have stepped up to do their part and assist their local heroes. Count the Nylander brothers, Alex of the Blackhawks and William of the Maple Leafs, as the latest to chip in for the cause.

Alex and William have partnered up with local restaurants of Stockholm and Toronto to help feed frontline workers and those in need.



“We have partnered with some of our favorite restaurants so that healthy meals can be prepared and delivered to frontline heroes and others in need,” said William. “In Chicago, we are supporting local food banks," added Alex.

As Alex and William both prepare for the NHL’s postseason, the brothers hope to continue to provide and deliver meals to frontline workers and those in need while bringing awareness to COVID-19 in the process.

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Blackhawks defenseman Calvin de Haan skating in Ottawa a positive sign for Hawks

Blackhawks defenseman Calvin de Haan skating in Ottawa a positive sign for Hawks

The NHL has yet to formally enter Phase 2 of their Return To Play protocol, where players can take part in voluntary practices and workouts in small groups at team facilities, but with gradual reopenings across North America, players are slowly ramping up on-ice activities if rinks are allowing them to. 

One of the players that could give the Blackhawks a boost in the 24-team format is Calvin de Haan, who has returned to on-ice activity in Ottawa.

 

de Haan is a native of Carp, Ontario, just outside of Ottawa, and took to the ice just a couple days after the NHL announced its Return To Play plan officially. The 29-year old defenseman was placed on long-term injured reserve after sustaining another shoulder injury in December, forcing him to miss the remainder of the regular season. 



de Haan skated along with Islanders forward Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Maple Leafs defenseman Cody Ceci and Riley Brace, who plays professionally in Switzerland. Earlier in the day, Flyers star Claude Giroux also took the ice at the Minto Skating Centre in Ottawa. 

Related: What Blackhawks' roster could look like vs. Oilers

The NHL hopes to officially enter Phase 2 in early June while reports say the NHL will not begin Phase 3 of the Return To Play plan until at least July 10.

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