COLUMBUS, Ohio – Corey Crawford will play but Jonathan Toews and Niklas Hjalmarsson won’t when the Blackhawks play their regular-season finale against the Columbus Blue Jackets Saturday night.
Coach Joel Quenneville said Toews and Hjalmarsson are “likely” to not play, which pretty much means they’re not playing. Also not playing are Duncan Keith (suspension), Marian Hossa (lower body), Andrew Shaw and Artem Anisimov (both upper body).
Crawford will be making his first start since March 14; he’s been out with an upper-body injury since.
“It’s great for the goalie, getting action in front of you, getting that pace, getting comfortable again seeing pucks and the speed of the game,” Quenneville said. “It’s very important getting a game in here before the playoffs start.”
Bryan Bickell, who struggled with vertigo at the end of last season and again earlier this season, said he texted Crawford regularly when he was out.
“I know it’s frustrating at times where it’s something that seems little but it doesn’t seem right. I told him that I was in a similar situation and it’s frustrating but to stick with it,” Bickell said. “I know he’ll bounce back today and feel good to play. Hopefully we’ll keep him healthy going on this run.”
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The Blackhawks are facing a Columbus team that was eliminated from the playoffs some time ago. They’ll also face former teammate Brandon Saad, who reached 30 goals for the first time in his career in the Blue Jackets’ 4-1 victory over Buffalo on Friday. While the Blackhawks will be missing a few regulars from the lineup, Quenneville said the goal doesn’t change.
“It’s a game where everything’s settled except we could put those [points] in the bank, which would be nice,” he said. “I think we’ll do the right things, try to play accordingly and give ourselves a chance.”