Blackhawks

Blackhawks: Teravainen likely to start season at wing

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Blackhawks: Teravainen likely to start season at wing

Teuvo Teravainen spent most of the preseason adjusting back to center, a position he hadn’t played in a few years.

Now he’s heading back to the wing.

Teravainen was at left wing on the Blackhawks’ top line on Monday, and he’ll be there on Wednesday night when the team opens the regular season against the New York Rangers. Teravainen finished Saturday night’s preseason game at that spot, playing alongside Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa. Coach Joel Quenneville said he liked the combination, and Teravainen’s earned the opportunity.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

“Him in the middle is fine. But maybe he can play against top players and top D men and he’ll get an important matchup as well,” Quenneville said after Monday’s practice. “It’s a big step but it’s real good quality ice time when you play with those guys. It’s not an easy job but we feel he’s capable of playing the offensive side of things there and the defensive side as well.”

Teravainen made huge strides last postseason and is getting more responsibility. Quenneville said there could be some penalty killing in Teravainen’s future, although that may be further down the road. Regardless, Teravainen’s versatility is beneficial.

“It’s a great asset to have,” Quenneville said. “Over the course of a game he can play in all situations as well. You can use him on penalty killing – we may not start him in that role but I see him growing into that opportunity if it comes about. He’s on the power play, he’s going to be on 4-on-4 and play 3-on-3. His overall game both ways puts him where he’s not slotted in one area. He can do a lot of things for us. Based on that, he can pick up a lot of ice time in those other situations.”

[MORE: Panarin more at ease after preseason debut]

OTHER NOTES 

- Quenneville said he liked Bryan Bickell’s response on Saturday night. Bickell had been placed on waivers on Friday but remained with the Blackhawks after he cleared. The move was deemed more of an attempted wake-up call for Bickell’s game. “I thought he had a real good game,” Quenneville said. “Much more effective, more noticeable.”

- Michal Rozsival still could start the season on long-term injured reserve, although Quenneville wasn’t sure when that would transpire. The defenseman is far from ready to play.

- The Blackhawks’ regular-season opener will be the same night as the Cubs’ wild-card game against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Quenneville said, “it’s too bad we can’t watch them. We’ll be rooting for them.”

- Projected starting lines for the season opener:

Teravainen-Toews-Hossa

Panarin-Anisimov-Kane

Bickell-Shaw-Baun

Desjardins-Kruger-Garbutt

How Blackhawks plan to handle Corey Crawford's workload

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USA TODAY

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!