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.”
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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.”