Blackhawks

Blackhawks prep for time without Duncan Keith

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Blackhawks prep for time without Duncan Keith

The Blackhawks don’t know Duncan Keith’s suspension fate yet but they’re planning to at least be without him on Friday against the Winnipeg Jets.

Keith will have a phone hearing with the NHL's Department of Player Safety on Friday afternoon for his match penalty in Tuesday’s game. He is suspended indefinitely until that hearing and ruling. Defensive pairings reflected that on Thursday. Trevor van Riemsdyk was with Niklas Hjalmarsson, Viktor Svedberg paired with Brent Seabrook and Erik Gustafsson paired with Michal Rozsival.

Coach Joel Quenneville said he spoke to Keith “briefly,” about the incident. Keith declined to talk following practice.

[MORE HAWKS: Duncan Keith could be suspended into playoffs]

“His competitiveness is what makes him a great player,” Quenneville said of Keith. “And I just think [it’s about] being smart and knowing your limitations, or I guess the limit, is what we have to do.”

The Blackhawks will also be without Marian Hossa, who is sick and will not make the trip to Winnipeg. Artem Anisimov, who has missed the last two games with a lower-body injury and Brent Seabrook, who was ill the last game, are expected to play vs. the Jets. Scott Darling will start.

For now the Blackhawks move on without Keith, who missed 10 games earlier this season when he had knee surgery. The Blackhawks went 5-4-1 during Keith’s absence in the fall.

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“We have seven [defensemen] who are ready to play. We’ve been moving guys in and out recently on the back end, pairs have been changing in games,” Quenneville said. “It’ll be a good chance for some guys to get good ice time and more quality.”

In other news, Corey Crawford could be back on the ice this weekend. Crawford has been out for more than two weeks with an upper-body injury. He’s been listed as day-to-day the entire time.

“Spoke to him a while ago. He’s really progressed well here. We expect him on the ice this weekend and go from there,” Quenneville said. “Good progress the last day or so, and I was encouraged.”

Blackhawks make it official: Corey Crawford is back

Blackhawks make it official: Corey Crawford is back

He’s back.

Corey Crawford was officially activated from injured reserve on Thursday and will start in goal for the first time since Dec. 23, 2017 when the Blackhawks host the Arizona Coyotes.

"It’s exciting," coach Joel Quenneville said. "I’m sure he’s looking forward to it and we’re all excited about it as well. It’ll be a fun situation for the guys, seeing him back in the net as well. So we’re looking for everyone to be excited about tonight’s game."

The two-time Stanley Cup champion was medically cleared to practice from his concussion on Oct. 1, but the Blackhawks wanted to give Crawford as much time as he needed to get his conditioning and puck-tracking skills up to game speed before putting him into game action.

"It feels good to be back to myself," Crawford said on Wednesday. "I'm feeling good, I'm feeling clear. It was a pretty long process. ... Practices have been great, been getting timing a little bit more and getting up to speed and reading shots and all that, so it'll be nice to finally get in one."

To make room for Crawford on the 23-man roster, the Blackhawks have assigned forward Luke Johnson to the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League. Brandon Saad, who wore a white healthy scratch jersey all week at practice, will take his spot in the lineup.

For now, the Blackhawks will hang on to Anton Forsberg and carry three goaltenders as insurance as they get ready to start a seven-games-in-11-days stretch.

Crawford was 16-9-2 with a 2.27 goals against average, .929 save percentage and two shutouts in 28 games last season. The Blackhawks were 17-30-8 without him and finished last in the Central Division.

Sports Talk Live Podcast: Is Crawford ready to go?

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USA TODAY

Sports Talk Live Podcast: Is Crawford ready to go?

Jimmy Greenfield, Connor McKnight, and Matt Spiegel join Kap on the panel to discuss Corey Crawford back on the ice for the first time in 10 months. The Bears have good news when it comes to Khalil Mack, who injured his ankle against the Dolphins.

Plus, Fred Hoiberg announces that Jabari Parker is coming off the bench for the season opener.

Listen to the full episode here or via the embedded player below: