Blackhawks

Corey Crawford, Blackhawks prep for Stars

Corey Crawford, Blackhawks prep for Stars

DALLAS – Corey Crawford will start his sixth consecutive game and the Blackhawks will stick with the same lineup as Thursday when they face the Dallas Stars Saturday night.

The Stars dominated the season series in 2015-16, winning four of five matchups. Each game was a lopsided affair, and the Stars were victorious four times due, in large part, to fast starts. The Blackhawks’ slow starts have been an issue this season, although they haven’t stopped them from four straight games. Still, the Blackhawks want to nip the bad habit now.

“We’ve been sloppy in certain areas, whether it’s clears, whether it’s in the puck area in our own zone at the start and it leads to chances and the momentum going their own way,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We have to find a way to get through it.”

Crawford has allowed just one goal in his last three starts.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

The Stars have dealt with several key injuries to start this season. That includes former Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp, who is sidelined with concussion-related issues. But the Stars got a big boost of confidence with their 6-2 victory over St. Louis on Thursday.

“We played better hockey the last two games before that, too, and didn’t get the results we wanted. We felt like that [St. Louis] game was kind of the step in the right direction,” said former Blackhawks defenseman Johnny Oduya. “Obviously we’re back to .500 but we know we need to be better than that. So we have to keep pushing forward. Obviously two big games coming up this weekend.”

Meanwhile, there’s still a good chance forward Andrew Desjardins (lower body) returns to the Blackhawks’ lineup for Sunday’s game against the Stars. Quenneville wouldn’t say who could come out of the lineup for that game.

 

BLACKHAWKS AT DALLAS STARS

7 p.m.

TV: WGN

Radio: WGN 720 AM

 

Chicago Blackhawks

Richard Panik-Jonathan Toews-Patrick Kane

Artemi Panarin-Artem Anisimov-Marian Hossa

Ryan Hartman-Marcus Kruger-Tyler Motte

Dennis Rasmussen-Nick-Schmaltz-Jordin Tootoo

Defensemen

Duncan Keith-Brian Campbell

Michal Kempny-Brent Seabrook

Gustav Forsling-Niklas Hjalmarsson

Goalie

Corey Crawford

INJURIES: Andrew Desjardins (lower body), Trevor van Riemsdyk (upper body).

 

Dallas Stars (via Dallas Morning News)

Jamie Benn-Tyler Seguin-Patrick Eaves

Antoine Roussel-Radek Faksa-Jason Spezza

Lauri Korpikoski-Devin Shore-Brett Ritchie

Curtis McKenzie-Gemel Smith-Adam Cracknell

Defensemen

Esa Lindell-John Klingberg

Johnny Oduya-Stephen Johns

Dan Hamhuis-Jordie Benn

Goalie

Antti Niemi

INJURIES: Jiri Hudler (illness), Patrick Sharp (concussion-like symptoms), Cody Eakin (knee), Mattias Janmark (knee), Ales Hemsky (hip)

How Blackhawks plan to handle Corey Crawford's workload

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

crawford_usa_today_debut.jpg
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!