Blackhawks: Pat Foley excited to coach Alumni Game Saturday on CSN


Blackhawks: Pat Foley excited to coach Alumni Game Saturday on CSN

Pat Foley and Tony Esposito will team up to coach the Blackhawks' alumni in the 2016 NHL Stadium Series Alumni Game on Sat., Feb 20. You can catch all the action on Comcast SportsNet beginning at 4 p.m. as the Blackhawks battle the Minnesota Wild/Minnesota North Stars alums.

Foley joined SportsTalk Live on Monday to discuss what he's most excited about in the lead-up to the game.

"I think it's going to be a blast, and I know all of our alumni guys are really excited about going up and seeing all those North Star guys that they used to hate on the ice, but you know how it is with hockey players," he said. "For the most part, once they get together off the ice they'll share a pint and have a few laughs. And I think there's going to be great stories told all weekend long and I think it's going to be an awesome experience. I'm looking forward to it. I want to mention that I went out this afternoon and I'm going to stand behind the bench with Tony Esposito as the coach - I'll be on the side just trying to stay out of the way."

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Foley was able to see the best of the North Stars/Blackhawks rivalary and is sure Saturday afternoon's game will bring back some of those memories. Especially with some of the names competing.

"It was the best rivalry in hockey at the time for sure," Foley said of the Blackhawks and North Stars. "And certainly one of the best in sports. Those were games you marked on the calendar; you couldn't wait to get to."

Catch the game this Saturday on CSN at 4 p.m.

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


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!