Blackhawks

Blackhawks banner raising night spoiled by Rangers

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Blackhawks banner raising night spoiled by Rangers

Coach Joel Quenneville talked of how the Blackhawks had to respond once that Stanley Cup banner was lifted into the United Center rafters. They had to flip the switch immediately.

They didn’t, and first-period miscues ended up being costly.

Artemi Panarin scored his first career NHL goal and Teuvo Teravainen recorded his first of the season, but the Blackhawks fell to the New York Rangers 3-2 in the regular-season opener for both on Wednesday night.

The Blackhawks have had a few so-so games following banner-raising ceremonies, and this one was no different. Integrating new players and new pairings after a summer of change, the Blackhawks struggled out of the gate. The opportunistic Rangers pounced on Blackhawks miscues, taking a 3-1 lead after the first 20 minutes.

“The first period, we had a little delay in our switch, either with or without the puck, going to people rather slowly,” Quenneville said. “We got better as the game went on, did some good things, but we gave them a couple of goals late in the first that were definitely preventable.”

[WATCH: Artemi Panarin locks in first goal of 2015-16 season]

There were some bright spots, starting with Panarin. Despite playing just one preseason game after missing nearly two weeks with an upper-body injury, Panarin looked comfortable. He, Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane showed the chemistry the three started forming in the preseason finale, with Kane setting up Panarin’s goal late in the first period.

“He’s a special player. He’s electric,” Kane said of Panarin. “He hangs onto the puck, makes good plays and it’s nice to see him get his first goal. I thought we had a pretty good first night.”

Quenneville said they call the Blackhawks’ newest forward, “the Bread Man.”

“He was fun to watch tonight,” Quenneville said of Panarin. “It looked like he had the puck all night and that line was effective and dangerous. So I think it was a good start for him.”

Teravainen, who played most of the preseason at center before moving to top-line left wing with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa, cut the Rangers’ lead to 3-2 late in the second period.

“Today I think wasn’t our best game. We have to talk more and keep thinking positive,” Teravainen said of the line. “There were some good things, of course, but I think we can do a better job.”

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

The Blackhawks thought they’d tied the game late in regulation when Kane stuffed the puck through Henrik Lundqvist’s pads. But it was called no goal on the ice — the official closest to the net told the NHL’s Situation Room that he was in the process of blowing the whistle when the puck was under Lundqvist’s pad. Upon further review, the no-goal call was upheld, citing Rule 78.5:

“Apparent goals shall be disallowed when the referee deems the play has been stopped, even if he had not physically had the opportunity to stop play by blowing his whistle.”

Asked of what he thought of the goal/non-goal call at the end, Quenneville said, “quick.”

Kane wasn’t that phased by it.

“I mean, it’s one of those plays that could go either way, whether the ref blows the whistle or not. It seemed like [the puck] was stuck under his pad,” Kane said. “It did seem like it was pretty quick but at the same time, refs are trying to protect the goalies and different things like that. Not going to complain about it. We had a chance to tie it up; it didn’t go our way.”

The Blackhawks started the night off celebrating another Cup victory. Whether it was the ceremony, the changes or just an off night, the Blackhawks didn’t get the desired game start.

“My patience is rather short as far as watching us give up leads or goals like that, that are all preventable by every single guy on the ice. But we’ll talk about it tomorrow,” Quenneville said of the sluggish start. “Let’s get excited. The [New York] Islanders are excited about starting in their building, so we have another tough test already.”

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!