Blackhawks

Blackhawks giving up goals in bunches

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Blackhawks giving up goals in bunches

The horn sounded at the end of the first period on Monday night, with the Blackhawks staring up at a familiar number: it was another period in which they gave up three or more goals.

“I mean, we have big periods offensively, as well,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “But key shifts of quick goals is something we haven't dealt with before. We’ve got to make sure we kill that.”

Yes, as Quenneville noted, the Blackhawks have scored in bunches themselves. But it’s what they’ve given up that’s most noticeable, mainly because it’s unusual for them. In seven periods this postseason the Blackhawks have given up three or more goals. Four of those periods came against the Nashville Predators and two against the Ducks, including Anaheim’s first period in Game 5. The Blackhawks are 4-3 in those games.

[MORE HAWKS: Blackhawks rally falls short in Game 5 OT loss to Ducks]

“I guess when we give up one, we’ve got to find ways to come back and try and cut off their offense and cut off their momentum,” Jonathan Toews said. “At the end of the last game and early in this game, we just didn’t quite do that well enough and gave up too much. But we’ve got to try and stop the bleeding a little bit earlier next time.”

A few factors have led to opponents’ goal-scoring outbursts in those periods. The Blackhawks’ defense, whether we’re talking about the blue liners or the team version, has had its tough moments. That was especially true against Nashville, when forwards and defensemen didn’t seem to be on the same page. That’s when Corey Crawford struggled, too, and was replaced by Scott Darling for most of the series.

Entering this series the Blackhawks’ defense has tried to get through the Michal Rozsival loss, with very mixed results. Couple that with an opportunistic Ducks team that has pounced on mistakes or created its own chances with good shots and traffic, and you have a recipe for multiple goals against.

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The Blackhawks have had the firepower to overcome some of those periods; they almost included last night’s game in their list of memorable comebacks. But it’s not easy to do that over and over, and the energy spent recovering may be taking its toll. They’ll face their first elimination game of this postseason on Wednesday night, when they host the Ducks in Game 6. They’ll need to play their best. They’ll need to leave everything out there. They’ll need to keep opponents from scoring in bunches, which has shown to be a big challenge.

“In the playoffs there are momentum swings, no doubt. It seems when the other team has momentum we have to find a way to get back, whether it’s a good shift 5-on-5, a big hit, a scoring chance, whatever you call it,” Patrick Sharp said. “The last couple of games they’ve scored three quick ones on us. But it’s a one-goal game, a one-goal series so we’re looking forward to the next game.”

Games where the Blackhawks have allowed three goals in a period:

GAME SERIES OPPONENT PERIOD RESULT
Game 1 1st Round Predators first 3OT win
Game 2 1st Round Predators third loss
Game 5 1st Round Predators third loss
Game 6 1st Round Predators first win
Game 1 2nd Round Wild second win
Game 4 Western Conference Final Ducks  third win
Game 5 Western Conference Final Ducks first OT loss

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!