Corey Crawford hoping to return to Blackhawks Friday

Corey Crawford hoping to return to Blackhawks Friday

Corey Crawford was a happy man on Tuesday, skating with his teammates after going solo while the Blackhawks were on the road in New York and St. Louis.

“That road trip felt like an eternity,” Crawford said with a smile. “But it’s good to be back on the ice and seeing shots again.”

Now all that remains is to back up to speed and get back in a game, the latter of which could come as soon as Friday.

Crawford is targeting Friday vs. Colorado, the Blackhawks’ final pre-Christmas game, to return from the appendix surgery that sidelined him about three weeks. Crawford has been on the ice for five or six days but Tuesday was the first time he took shots from his teammates. So now it’s about getting the timing back. He said there was no hesitation once he got back onto the ice.

“I felt pretty good like 3-4 days after. It didn’t really hurt. It was a pretty good surgery,” Crawford said. “Our trainers did a good job and our team doctor, all of them helped me out. And the doctor in Philly, too. He did a really good job I was able to get right out of there and back on the plane.  That was nice. But yeah, I felt good a few days after.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!] 

The wait has been a long one for Crawford, who suffered appendicitis and had his appendix removed on Dec. 3, when the Blackhawks were in Philadelphia. Crawford said he never really felt any pain around that time. He had flu-like symptoms and a fever, but, “it wasn’t really painful,” he said. So it was caught early enough that it didn’t become a bigger concern.

In Crawford’s absence, Scott Darling has been stellar. Darling, who will start his 10th consecutive game on Tuesday night, has gone 6-2-1 during this stretch. Crawford said Darling’s work has been, “unbelievable.”

“He’s been great for us ever since he came here,” Crawford said. “He stole a few games there, some great performances. He made some big saves in the other games, too, at key points in the game. You can’t ask for more than that.”

The Blackhawks are close to getting their goaltending back to full health. Crawford was playing well before his appendicitis – he won all three of his starts entering Dec. 3. He’d like to get back to that level as soon as possible.

“It’d be nice to get the feeling back right away. That’s the plan. That’s what I’m trying to do, or build on in practice,” Crawford said. “I can’t wait to get back in there.”

Blackhawks release 2018-19 schedule


Blackhawks release 2018-19 schedule

Uncap those markers and start circling your calendars, Blackhawks fans. The 2018-19 season is officially out.

The Blackhawks will kick off their 91st campaign in franchise history with a road contest against the Ottawa Senators on Oct. 4 at 6:30 p.m. The home opener is set for Oct. 7, with an Original Six matchup against the Toronto Maple Leafs at 6 p.m.

The Blackhawks have 14 back-to-back games, and the longest road trip of the season is three, which takes place five times over the course of the season; the longest homestand is four games, from Dec. 12-18.

The biggest highlight of the season will be the Original Six Winter Classic Showdown between the Blackhawks and Boston Bruins on Jan. 1 at Notre Dame Stadium. It will be the sixth outdoor appearance for Chicago, and fourth in the Winter Classic.

The Blackhawks will also square off with the defending champion Washington Capitals on Nov. 21 at 6 p.m., and welcome them to Chicago on Jan. 20, set for NBC's Game of the Week at 11:30 a.m.

Here's a look at the full schedule:

Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman: 'We expect Corey to be back'

Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman: 'We expect Corey to be back'

Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman said that the team expects goalie Corey Crawford to be back next season around training camp. Bowman also mentioned that Crawford might speak about his status himself during the Blackhawks Convention.

“What I said at the end of the year was still the case now, which is we expect Corey to be back,” Bowman said in a Thursday afternoon conference call. “We don’t have any reason to think that’s not going to happen.”

According to Bowman, Blackhawks players, including Crawford, already have their eyes set on next season.

“At this point in the summer, all the players are preparing for next season,” Bowman said. “Corey’s in that same preparation mode.”

Crawford is nursing what has been labeled an upper-body injury by the team. The two-time Stanley Cup winner was put on the shelf for the rest of the season back in late December, and he has not seen the ice since he skated in a February practice.

“Nothing has changed,” Bowman said. “We expect him to be back and ready to go in training camp.”

The Blackhawks have chosen to keep any groundbreaking news with Crawford under wraps, which the organization has done with other player injuries in the past. Bowman spoke about his vagueness in this situation.

“We’ve never gone into specifics about injuries,” Bowman said. “I realize this probably gets more attention because he’s our starting goalie and he won the Stanley Cup.”

Fans will have to take a wait-and-see approach, because it is unlikely that there will be a significant update regarding Crawford’s health before the season gets closer to its start.

Last season, Crawford only appeared in 28 games, posting a record of 16-9 with 782 saves before going down for the rest of the year.