Blackhawks

Corey Crawford could return to action for Blackhawks before Christmas

Blackhawks

Corey Crawford is nearing a return for the Blackhawks, and there's a chance it could happen before Christmas.

Joel Quenneville said Sunday that the team is planning to get their starting goaltender back on Dec. 23 against the Colorado Avalanche, which would put him inside the two-to-three-week timetable that the Blackhawks initially projected.

Crawford underwent an emergency appendectomy on Dec. 3 in Philadelphia, and skated for three straight days while the Blackhawks were on their three-game road trip.

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The next step is getting a full practice in.

“He was out there today with some players, so he got some good work again,” Quenneville said. "[He'll practice on] Tuesday, and we’ll look at the 23rd as an option.”

Crawford was having a Vezina-type season before the surgery, possessing a 12-6-2 record with a 2.27 goals against average, .927 save percentage and two shutouts in 20 starts.

The Blackhawks are 5-2-1 in his absence entering Sunday, due in large part to Scott Darling, who's been fantastic and earned a ninth straight start against San Jose.