Blackhawks

Calm Frederik Andersen finding postseason success

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Calm Frederik Andersen finding postseason success

ANAHEIM, Calif. – Frederik Andersen got just enough of Patrick Kane’s shot, the puck caroming off his stick and over the net.

From that save to the rest he made on Sunday, Andersen didn’t seem to get unnerved.

“I don’t know,” he said on Monday. “It’s just my personality.”

Andersen seems a man of few words but he’s not short on confidence or calm, both qualities that have helped him to great performances so far this postseason. He added another one on Sunday, a 32-stop outing in the Ducks’ 4-1 victory over the Blackhawks. In 10 postseason games, Andersen is 9-1 with a 1.86 goals-against average and .930 save percentage.

[BLACKHAWKS UPDATE: Kyle Cumiskey to play in Game 2 vs. Ducks]

According to his teammates, it’s no surprise that Andersen has handled this latest playoff stage with poise.

“Not much gets him riled up,” said Kyle Palmieri. “I think he’s a guy that has that confidence about him. He’s not overconfident and showboat-y. He’s humble and, like I said, just calm. That translates to the ice. You see how calm he is in the net. He makes those big saves and he just gets right back to work. He doesn’t get overly flashy with anything. He makes the big saves and he’s been huge for us.”

Andersen went through some playoff growing pains last spring, his rookie season. He allowed three goals in four of his postseason games for the Ducks, who were eliminated by the eventual Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings. Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said that, as well as another year, has helped Andersen’s game.

“Sometimes you never see it, but experience is a huge factor,” Boudreau said. “Last year for everything, it was his first year basically on the big stage being in the NHL. Now he's been through it. You go through a series, whether you're watching or playing, you know, like the L.A. series last year, you learn things.”

[NBC SPORTS SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Those lessons have been applied this postseason. While Andersen was strong against Winnipeg and Calgary, who the Ducks eliminated in four and five games, respectively, the big question was how would Andersen handle things against the Blackhawks? Well, Game 1 was a good test and he passed. Andersen was especially good in the first period. When the Blackhawks turned Ducks errors into scoring chances, Andersen didn’t let them turn into goals.

“He’s a pretty calm, collected guy,” Cam Fowler said. “He works really hard on and off the ice. He’s always doing things to improve his game. But he just has a very calm demeanor about him; you look at a lot of the great goalies around the league, they have that quality. As [defensemen], we feel that calming effect when he’s back there. That’s why he’s played so well throughout the playoffs.”

Andersen was a bit of a wildcard entering the Western Conference Finals. He still has tests to come but he played very well against the Blackhawks in Game 1. The Blackhawks will likely adjust and try to get more traffic in front of him in Game 2. If Andersen keeps his calm approach throughout, the Blackhawks are in for a tough series.

“He's another year older,” Boudreau said of Andersen. “He now knows what to expect from himself. He's not afraid of the league.”

Corey Crawford expects to make season debut for Blackhawks on Thursday vs. Arizona

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USA TODAY

Corey Crawford expects to make season debut for Blackhawks on Thursday vs. Arizona

The wait is almost over.

After missing nearly 10 months with a concussion, Corey Crawford said he expects to start on Thursday when the Blackhawks take on the Arizona Coyotes at the United Center. An official decision will come following the team's morning skate.

"It feels good to be back to myself," Crawford said. "I'm feeling good, I'm feeling clear. ... It was a pretty long process. But I think the most important thing was not to rush anything. When I finally was out, it got to a point where I wasn’t in shape to play and it was time to rest and it’s unfortunate it took a lot longer than I would’ve liked. 

"It’s been long, but finally, just to get back and be practicing with the team has meant a lot. It’s good to get to this point now when you’re really close to playing. 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."

Crawford's last appearance in an NHL game was Dec. 23, 2017 against the New Jersey Devils when he allowed three goals on seven shots in 13:22 of action before getting pulled. So of course, emotions will naturally be running high, especially in front of the hometown crowd.

"I'm sure I'll be a little anxious getting into it," Crawford said. "Some nerves. But we'll see. We'll wait until the morning, but I'm definitely excited I can tell you that."

It's obviously terrific news for the Blackhawks, who have picked up eight out of a possible 10 points to start the season and are getting their two-time Stanley Cup winning goalie back between the pipes. It's been a long time coming, and Crawford is coming back into a healthy situation where the Blackhawks are in a good spot in the standings.

"It's great news, I'm sure it'll be exciting for him exciting for our team, exciting for our fans and the organization as well," Patrick Kane said. "It’s probably a good situation all around. Cam [Ward] has done a great job of playing in the net so far. Crow is really good in practice right now, so I’m sure he’s itching to get back, too. We’ve had a good start here. It’s something we want to keep going, and I’m sure him coming back on home ice, in front of our crowd, will be a fun one for him and for our team."

There's no doubting how important Crawford is the team and organization. While there may be a little bit of rust early on, the Blackhawks are expecting him to look like his old self.

"He means a lot to the team," Quenneville said. "We felt last year was a good example of how important he was and how well he was playing for us, as well. We’ve gotten off to a decent start and he was a big factor in it. We know that goaltending is such a big part of the team and your success a lot of nights depends on him and his consistency’s always been in place.

"But he looks good in the net. He’s been off for a long, long time. Is there rust? Do we expect rust? I think the way he’s competing and practicing and finding pucks, he looks like he hasn’t missed a beat. So we’re looking forward to him getting in there and getting comfortable and how he’s feeling going forward will dictate a lot of the decisions about him going back in."

Hawks Talk Podcast: Crawford's return, Saad's demotion and power play concerns

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USA TODAY

Hawks Talk Podcast: Crawford's return, Saad's demotion and power play concerns

In the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle, Charlie Roumeliotis and Slavko Bekovic provide their thoughts on the Blackhawks’ 3-0-2 start.

They also discuss Brandon Saad’s demotion and whether it could serve as a wake-up call, Corey Crawford’s potential return on Thursday vs. Arizona and what could happen with Anton Forsberg because of it, and address the power play concerns.

The guys wrap up the podcast by making a few bold predictions going forward.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below, and be sure to subscribe, rate us and write a review!