Five Things from Blackhawks-Senators: Andrew Desjardins stays hot


Five Things from Blackhawks-Senators: Andrew Desjardins stays hot

The Blackhawks have had some frenzied games lately, contests with a lot of goals and thrilling – perhaps too thrilling – moments.

Well, we wouldn’t categorize Sunday’s game against the Ottawa Senators as one of those games. It was quiet through a good deal of this one, with a Duncan Keith goal finally breaking the ice in the second period. Hey, high scoring, low scoring, busy, quiet, the Blackhawks don’t care as long as it translates into victories. So before we head to Pittsburgh for the first half of a back-to-back with the Penguins, let’s look at Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ 3-0 victory over the Senators.

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1. Another shutout for Corey Crawford. He may not have had the best game in Arizona but Crawford rebounded with a shutout, his sixth of the season and 18th of his career, on Sunday night. Of Crawford’s recent shutouts, this one didn’t keep him as busy. But on a night when neither team could get going early, his work was beneficial for the Blackhawks.

2. Andrew Desjardins scores again. This goal wasn’t a game winner, nor did it tie the game or anything like that. If nothing else it sealed what was already looking like a victory for the Blackhawks in the final minute. Doesn’t matter: it’s more supplemental scoring for a team that needs it, and another boost of confidence for Desjardins. Said coach Joel Quenneville, “he’s had a great stretch, three games here for him and his line mates, solid again, pucks following him around like a top player. So we’ve been very pleased for him.”

3. Artem Anisimov heating up. During December, the big center went nine games without a point: no goals, no assists, nothing. Well, he’s finding the touch again. Anisimov now has four goals in his last six games, including his 15th of the season tonight. As Quenneville said, the Blackhawks were looking at Anisimov mainly to give them a second-line center for the next couple of seasons. The offense he’s supplied this year has been a welcome addition.

[MORE: Blackhawks capitalize in 'low-chance affair' as Crawford blanks Sens]

4. Duncan Keith continues his great play. The post-surgery Keith has been strong for the Blackhawks, and he’s getting more points again lately, too. Keith’s goal on Sunday gives him points in his last three games (two goals, three assists). The Blackhawks always welcome their defensemen contributing on offense, and Keith’s been doing that steadily since returning from surgery in mid-November.

5. The Senators were credited with 60 hits. Yeah, that seems like a lot to us. Seemed like a lot to Quenneville, too. “I didn’t feel it. I didn’t feel one of them,” Quenneville said to laughs. “It was a high number. It didn’t feel like we got hit 60 times. Sometimes I feel them but tonight, I don’t know. It was one of those nights.”

How Blackhawks plan to handle Corey Crawford's workload

How Blackhawks plan to handle Corey Crawford's workload

Corey Crawford is back and it didn't look like he skipped much of a beat. The Blackhawks were handed their first regulation loss of the season to the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday, but the 33-year-old netminder stopped 27 of 30 shots (.900 save percentage) in his season debut and made several timely saves to keep his team in it.

In the larger picture, it was a win based on how well Crawford looked between the pipes.

"Yeah, I think it is," coach Joel Quenneville said after practice on Friday. "It's one of things we were wondering, how he would handle post-game and how he came in today. Very encouraging signs. He felt good in all aspects of what he went through and dealt with, and practiced well today too, so that was good."

The first one is in the books.

But what's the plan going forward? Will Crawford be on a "pitch count" or will they treat him like they have in past seasons when he was healthy?

In the past, Crawford has generally started somewhere in between 55-58 games per season. Part of that has been because of injuries. Another part is the Blackhawks have had reliable backups, which allowed them to give Crawford an extra night off here and there to keep him fresh.

It's not unreasonable, though, to think Crawford could flirt with 50 starts, considering he missed only five games to start the season. And they can still accomplish that by playing it safe.

The Blackhawks have 13 more back-to-backs this season, which gives them the opportunity to start Cam Ward at some point in each of them. That leaves room for another 15 or so starts to sprinkle in for Ward that could serve as rest days for Crawford and still being on track to start around 50.

Obviously, the Blackhawks want to be careful with how much they ask of Crawford because concussions are tricky to deal with and every player responds differently to it.

His return comes at a time where the Blackhawks are slated to play seven games in 11 days after playing just two in the previous 10. Thursday marked the start of that stretch.

"He’ll tell us how he feels and we’ll go from there and make those decisions," Quenneville said.

The Blackhawks have been on record saying they prefer not to carry three goaltenders. But in this case it makes sense. At least in the short term.

Quenneville said Friday that the Blackhawks will reevaluate the situation at the end of the weekend following the beginning of a busy stretch where they'll play three games in four days.

"Yeah, that’s the mindset," he said. "Let’s see how we handle these three in four and then we’ll address it."

Crawford is expected to start on Saturday in Columbus, making it his second start in three days. That's when they'll get a better sense of how he's handling things.

If it were up to him, Crawford said he feels he's prepared for it.

"Yeah, sure," Crawford said. "Why not? I've been working hard with [strength and conditioning coach Paul Goodman]. He's got me where I need to be, so I'm in shape right now. Why not?"

Hawks Talk Podcast: Thoughts on Corey Crawford's season debut


Hawks Talk Podcast: Thoughts on Corey Crawford's season debut

In the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle, Jamal Mayers and Charlie Roumeliotis recap Corey Crawford’s season debut after missing nearly 10 months with a concussion.

Mayers talks about the Kitty system that Niklas Hjalmarsson and Vinnie Hinostroza probably dealt with in their returns to Chicago.

The guys also discuss what’s next for Crawford, the upcoming matchup against Artemi Panarin and the Columbus Blue Jackets, and the Blackhawks’ biggest areas for improvement.

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