For the sixth straight day, Corey Crawford skated one hour before Blackhawks practice on Wednesday. But this one was the shortest on-ice workout of training camp.
After several discussions in between drills with head athletic trainer Mike Gapski and goaltending coach Jimmy Waite, Crawford's workout ended at 20 minutes. His sessions have usually lasted around 30.
Asked after practice about it, coach Joel Quenneville said not to read anything into it as it was all part of the schedule and that Crawford worked out in the gym afterwards as well. He is scheduled to have an off day on Thursday.
"We still like the progress and the way he's going along here," Quenneville said. "We're still encouraged that his progress is headed in the right direction."
Crawford said on Day 1 of camp that he's still dealing with concussion-like symptoms from last season, but that he's "really close" to returning. Conditioning is one of his biggest hurdles as well, because he hasn't been able to up the intensity on training the way he normally does over the summer.
"Every single day is movement, conditioning, he's feeling good, I think that's half the battle," Quenneville said. "You're getting conditioning out of it and all of a sudden you get in different positions and movements and then there's progress along the way with the velocity of shots, when there's traffic, there's bodies, so we're trying to add a little bit of something and a different look every single day.
"It's the routine in the schedule. Today was six in a row, let's let this slow down a little today and tomorrow he's off."
In other injury news, Blackhawks team physician Michael Terry released a medical update on Connor Murphy, who could now miss up to 12 weeks with a back injury.
“Connor will have a period of six weeks during which he will be off the ice," Terry said in a statement. "He will undergo further testing at that time to determine if it is appropriate for him to begin more physical activity or require an additional four weeks of rest. This puts Murphy’s overall timeline at approximately eight to twelve weeks before returning to the lineup.”
Jan Rutta is also listed as day to day with a groin injury. Quenneville said it's not believed to be serious.
First wave of cuts
In addition, the Blackhawks made their first wave of cuts by re-assigning goaltender Alexis Gravel (Halifax Mooseheads of the QMJHL), forward Philipp Kurashev (Quebec Remparts) and defenseman Jake Ryczek (Halifax Mooseheads) to their respective junior teams and released forward Shaw Boomhower from his amateur tryout.
"Kurashev, I didn't mind him," Quenneville said. "I think they all did alright. I think that the two kids going to Halifax, they got good coaching there. [Halifax head coach] Eric Veilleux was a guy we had him a little bit around in the Quebec days and I think they're going to be excited about that. They're hosting a Memorial Cup so those two guys will be having an exciting year for them. Phil is going to Quebec, going to play for Patrick [Roy]. Going to get great coaching as well, good opportunity for these guys. I thought he had a good camp. Jimmy was talking the goalie [Gravel] that he was impressed with him as well. For a young kid coming in here he learned a lot and I think that will be a good year for him as well."
The roster currently sits at 53 players: 28 forwards, 19 defensemen and six goaltenders.
Top guns set to make preseason debut
The Blackhawks brought a bunch of young guys to Columbus for the first preseason game, but Thursday should be different. Alex DeBrincat, Patrick Kane, Chris Kunitz and Jonathan Toews (and likely Nick Schmaltz and Brandon Saad) are among the most notable players that will be traveling to Detroit to face the Red Wings. Anton Forsberg and Kevin Lankinen will be the two goaltenders and are expected to split time in net.