Blackhawks

Five Things: Andrew Shaw aggravating again as Blackhawks top Preds

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Five Things: Andrew Shaw aggravating again as Blackhawks top Preds

The Blackhawks have been looking for chemistry and balance for more than 20 games. Now, it looks like they might be onto something.

For the second consecutive game the Blackhawks looked pretty complete. The minutes weren’t horrifically lopsided for some players compared to others. Could the Blackhawks finally be getting that balance for which they’ve been searching? It’s possible. So before we head to Nashville, let’s look at Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ 4-1 victory over the Predators on home ice.

1. Call it a goalie victory. Coach Joel Quenneville didn’t, but he might as well have. Corey Crawford was, as Quenneville put it (twice), “spectacular” against the Predators. He had to be. The Predators got some damn fine scoring opportunities against Crawford — it’s somewhat amusing that one of their lesser chances, a puck going off a skate, is the one that got by him. But that’s all Crawford allowed in a game that was arguably his best of the season.

2. Patrick Kane does it again. Yep, the point streak goes on, extended to 23 with Kane’s empty-net goal with less than two minutes remaining in regulation. But he reached a bigger milestone than the streak: the goal marked Kane’s 600th point of his NHL career. It was no secret the Blackhawks threw Kane out there late to try and keep the streak alive. “Do the right things, and you might get an opportunity,” Quenneville said. “Nice to see him extend it. He had some nice looks to get it earlier than that, so nice to see him continue on. It’s something special.”

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3. He who hesitates is no longer Teuvo Teravainen. The Finnish forward is starting to show more aggressiveness this last game or two, and it’s resulting in goals. He said he likes taking advantage of the fresh ice at the start of periods — his last two goals have happened 21 and 14 seconds, respectively, into the last two third periods. But the bottom line is, Teravainen is gaining confidence with every goal he scores, no matter when he scores it.

4. Andrew Shaw is aggravating again. Shaw had one of his best games of the season, garnering a goal and an assist. He was a noticeable presence on the third line and gave the Blackhawks their one power-play goal of the night. Said Quenneville, “I thought Shawzy had a real impact on the game tonight in a lot of ways.”

5. Nice debut for Dennis Rasmussen. The Swede, recalled on Monday, scored his first NHL goal on his first NHL shot on his first NHL game. The only thing that would’ve made it better would be if Rasmussen did it on his first shift — it was his third. Still, Rasmussen gave that third line a net-front presence. Even better, his parents and brother were here from Sweden to see him do it. “It’s a big day for me and my whole family,” he said.

Corey Crawford expects to make season debut for Blackhawks on Thursday vs. Arizona

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USA TODAY

Corey Crawford expects to make season debut for Blackhawks on Thursday vs. Arizona

The wait is almost over.

After missing nearly 10 months with a concussion, Corey Crawford said he expects to start on Thursday when the Blackhawks take on the Arizona Coyotes at the United Center. An official decision will come following the team's morning skate.

"It feels good to be back to myself," Crawford said. "I'm feeling good, I'm feeling clear. ... It was a pretty long process. But I think the most important thing was not to rush anything. When I finally was out, it got to a point where I wasn’t in shape to play and it was time to rest and it’s unfortunate it took a lot longer than I would’ve liked. 

"It’s been long, but finally, just to get back and be practicing with the team has meant a lot. It’s good to get to this point now when you’re really close to playing. Practices have been great, been getting timing a little bit more and getting up to speed and reading shots and all that, so it'll be nice to finally get in one."

Crawford's last appearance in an NHL game was Dec. 23, 2017 against the New Jersey Devils when he allowed three goals on seven shots in 13:22 of action before getting pulled. So of course, emotions will naturally be running high, especially in front of the hometown crowd.

"I'm sure I'll be a little anxious getting into it," Crawford said. "Some nerves. But we'll see. We'll wait until the morning, but I'm definitely excited I can tell you that."

It's obviously terrific news for the Blackhawks, who have picked up eight out of a possible 10 points to start the season and are getting their two-time Stanley Cup winning goalie back between the pipes. It's been a long time coming, and Crawford is coming back into a healthy situation where the Blackhawks are in a good spot in the standings.

"It's great news, I'm sure it'll be exciting for him exciting for our team, exciting for our fans and the organization as well," Patrick Kane said. "It’s probably a good situation all around. Cam [Ward] has done a great job of playing in the net so far. Crow is really good in practice right now, so I’m sure he’s itching to get back, too. We’ve had a good start here. It’s something we want to keep going, and I’m sure him coming back on home ice, in front of our crowd, will be a fun one for him and for our team."

There's no doubting how important Crawford is the team and organization. While there may be a little bit of rust early on, the Blackhawks are expecting him to look like his old self.

"He means a lot to the team," Quenneville said. "We felt last year was a good example of how important he was and how well he was playing for us, as well. We’ve gotten off to a decent start and he was a big factor in it. We know that goaltending is such a big part of the team and your success a lot of nights depends on him and his consistency’s always been in place.

"But he looks good in the net. He’s been off for a long, long time. Is there rust? Do we expect rust? I think the way he’s competing and practicing and finding pucks, he looks like he hasn’t missed a beat. So we’re looking forward to him getting in there and getting comfortable and how he’s feeling going forward will dictate a lot of the decisions about him going back in."

Hawks Talk Podcast: Crawford's return, Saad's demotion and power play concerns

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USA TODAY

Hawks Talk Podcast: Crawford's return, Saad's demotion and power play concerns

In the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle, Charlie Roumeliotis and Slavko Bekovic provide their thoughts on the Blackhawks’ 3-0-2 start.

They also discuss Brandon Saad’s demotion and whether it could serve as a wake-up call, Corey Crawford’s potential return on Thursday vs. Arizona and what could happen with Anton Forsberg because of it, and address the power play concerns.

The guys wrap up the podcast by making a few bold predictions going forward.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below, and be sure to subscribe, rate us and write a review!