Blackhawks

Blackhawks prospect Nick Schmaltz named NCHC Player of the Month

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Blackhawks prospect Nick Schmaltz named NCHC Player of the Month

Patrick Kane isn't the only Blackhawks forward putting together a nice streak.

Chicago prospect Nick Schmaltz was named the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) Player of the Month for November after closing out the month on a career-high seven-game point streak.

The 19-year-old sophomore center registered 15 points (two goals and 13 assists) and a plus-14 rating in eight November games (an average of 1.87 points per game), leading the University of North Dakota to a 6-2-0 record. He led the nation in primary assists (7), even-strength assists (10), assisted on four of the six game-winning goals and recorded four multi-point games during the month.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

A first round pick (20th overall) pick by the Blackhawks in 2014, Schmaltz leads the Fighting Hawks with 19 assists and is tied for the team lead with 21 points in 16 games played. His plus-23 rating also leads the nation.

Schmaltz said over the offseason that "I got stronger on pucks and just stronger in my legs," and it's showed as he's on pace to shatter last year's point total of 26, which he accumulated in 28 total games.

The Blackhawks know what kind of offensive upside Schmaltz brings to the table, but he's clearly elevated his game to another level and has so far displayed consistency on offense that has been a concern in the past.

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: