Blackhawks

Blackhawks applaud Cubs’ World Series triumph: 'They deserve it'

Blackhawks applaud Cubs’ World Series triumph: 'They deserve it'

Scott Darling couldn’t suppress his smile.

The Blackhawks backup goaltender was beyond happy when he watched the Cubs win the World Series on Thursday night, and his first call was home. 

“I called my dad after the game,” said Darling, who grew up in Lemont. “He watched every second, every game this year. He was telling me, ‘I never thought I’d see the Blackhawks win, let alone the Cubs win.’ He was through the roof. It was amazing.”

Many of the Blackhawks watched the Cubs’ 8-7, 10-inning victory that ended 108 years of World Series futility. For some like Darling, there’s the obvious local connection. But regardless of where the Blackhawks hail from or their fan allegiance, they were swept up in the mania.

“It’s hard to watch. I said this before, too, about baseball, there’s so much intensity and suspense between every play. It just takes you along,” said Jonathan Toews. “I can imagine now families and friends that say that, I think watching our games in the playoffs are harder than playing them, I can definitely attest to what they’re talking about. Pretty cool, pretty emotional to watch those guys celebrate after winning last night. Pretty amazing.”

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Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz released a statement commending the Cubs:

"On behalf of our family and organization, congratulations to the Ricketts family and the Chicago Cubs for an incredible season and for winning the World Series. The unwavering loyalty of Chicago sports fans has been rewarded once again with yet another team being crowned world champions. Well done.”

A good amount of these Blackhawks can relate to the Cubs coming back from a 3-1 deficit to win – that was them in 2013, beating Detroit in the Western Conference semifinals en route to their second Stanley Cup. It was a thrilling night for the city of the Chicago, and the Blackhawks were right there enjoying it all.

“Game 7, extra innings, doesn’t get much better than that,” Duncan Keith said. “We as an organization and a team are happy for them, they deserve it, Cubs fans deserve it and most of all their players do. Their players showed amazing character all year long. They have a bunch of stars on their team and nobody’s above the team.”

How Blackhawks plan to handle Corey Crawford's workload

How Blackhawks plan to handle Corey Crawford's workload

Corey Crawford is back and it didn't look like he skipped much of a beat. The Blackhawks were handed their first regulation loss of the season to the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday, but the 33-year-old netminder stopped 27 of 30 shots (.900 save percentage) in his season debut and made several timely saves to keep his team in it.

In the larger picture, it was a win based on how well Crawford looked between the pipes.

"Yeah, I think it is," coach Joel Quenneville said after practice on Friday. "It's one of things we were wondering, how he would handle post-game and how he came in today. Very encouraging signs. He felt good in all aspects of what he went through and dealt with, and practiced well today too, so that was good."

The first one is in the books.

But what's the plan going forward? Will Crawford be on a "pitch count" or will they treat him like they have in past seasons when he was healthy?

In the past, Crawford has generally started somewhere in between 55-58 games per season. Part of that has been because of injuries. Another part is the Blackhawks have had reliable backups, which allowed them to give Crawford an extra night off here and there to keep him fresh.

It's not unreasonable, though, to think Crawford could flirt with 50 starts, considering he missed only five games to start the season. And they can still accomplish that by playing it safe.

The Blackhawks have 13 more back-to-backs this season, which gives them the opportunity to start Cam Ward at some point in each of them. That leaves room for another 15 or so starts to sprinkle in for Ward that could serve as rest days for Crawford and still being on track to start around 50.

Obviously, the Blackhawks want to be careful with how much they ask of Crawford because concussions are tricky to deal with and every player responds differently to it.

His return comes at a time where the Blackhawks are slated to play seven games in 11 days after playing just two in the previous 10. Thursday marked the start of that stretch.

"He’ll tell us how he feels and we’ll go from there and make those decisions," Quenneville said.

The Blackhawks have been on record saying they prefer not to carry three goaltenders. But in this case it makes sense. At least in the short term.

Quenneville said Friday that the Blackhawks will reevaluate the situation at the end of the weekend following the beginning of a busy stretch where they'll play three games in four days.

"Yeah, that’s the mindset," he said. "Let’s see how we handle these three in four and then we’ll address it."

Crawford is expected to start on Saturday in Columbus, making it his second start in three days. That's when they'll get a better sense of how he's handling things.

If it were up to him, Crawford said he feels he's prepared for it.

"Yeah, sure," Crawford said. "Why not? I've been working hard with [strength and conditioning coach Paul Goodman]. He's got me where I need to be, so I'm in shape right now. Why not?"

Hawks Talk Podcast: Thoughts on Corey Crawford's season debut

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USA TODAY

Hawks Talk Podcast: Thoughts on Corey Crawford's season debut

In the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle, Jamal Mayers and Charlie Roumeliotis recap Corey Crawford’s season debut after missing nearly 10 months with a concussion.

Mayers talks about the Kitty system that Niklas Hjalmarsson and Vinnie Hinostroza probably dealt with in their returns to Chicago.

The guys also discuss what’s next for Crawford, the upcoming matchup against Artemi Panarin and the Columbus Blue Jackets, and the Blackhawks’ biggest areas for improvement.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below, and be sure to subscribe, rate us and write a review!