Blackhawks

Five Things from Game 2: Big minutes from big defensemen

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Five Things from Game 2: Big minutes from big defensemen

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Overtime games: they are not for the faint of heart.

Sometimes they drag, each team so afraid to make a mistake that each plays very cautious. Other times they’re riveting, as Tuesday night’s Game 2 against the Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks was. But as the Blackhawks have done often in the past, they found a way to win a lengthy game. So before we call it a morning, let’s look at the Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ 3-2 triple-overtime victory.

[MORE: Blackhawks outlast Ducks in longest game in franchise history]

1. Don’t be pretty; just be there. It’s overtime: nobody is going to score a gorgeous goal. At least the odds aren’t in your favor. And despite the fact that he’s not known for a lot of scoring, there was something very appropriate about Marcus Kruger getting the game-winner. It was the type of goal that a blue-collar player would score, right near the net, with the puck hitting off his glove and then off his stick, and he did.

2. Well, at least he used his head. Following the game, Andrew Shaw could laugh about his disallowed head-directed goal from the second overtime. Still, it was humorous to see. Turns out, there are two NHL rules that say you can’t do that — hey, if you’re going to score a disallowed goal, get every nullification you can get. Said Shaw, “everyone’s always telling you to use your head when you’re out there. I just went and did that.”

3. Tremendous night for Corey Crawford. It was a goaltender’s night, regardless of team. But what an outing for Crawford, who stopped a career-best 60 of 62 shots he faced. The Ducks hit a few crossbars in the third period and overtimes, but Crawford got just about everything else. Said Crawford about some of those close calls, “there’s no real time to really think about [that]. Maybe when the play stops. It’s coming back again, so quick. I wasn’t really thinking. There were a few I thought might have trickled in but I don’t know. It’s a good win.”

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

4. Big minutes for big defensemen. OK, it was a triple-overtime game, so the time-on-ice for some was going to be staggering. The Blackhawks’ top four defensemen played 46 minutes (Johnny Oduya) to nearly 50 (Duncan Keith). That’s a lot and not surprising, given the lengthy game and how much we knew the Blackhawks would rely on those two with defensive changes. Coach Joel Quenneville, immediately after the game, wasn’t concerned. “One of those games the minutes look skewed, but it is what it is,” he said. “It’s a good test. But I think our team’s gone through that more than once and [will be] ready to get right back at it.”

5. Ducks bring the hit parade. The Ducks — again, a big number for a long game — were credited with 71 hits in Game 2. Their physical game was especially evident in the second period, when they were hitting everything in a Blackhawks uniform. Kimmo Timonen felt the brunt of several big hits. How will these hits affect the Blackhawks, especially those top four defensemen, as this series continues? That remains to be seen.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Corey Crawford is BACK, are the Bulls legitimate playoff contenders?

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SportsTalk Live Podcast: Corey Crawford is BACK, are the Bulls legitimate playoff contenders?

Mark Lazerus and Hub Arkush join David Kaplan on the panel.

The guys discuss Corey Crawford’s return and what it means for the team’s playoff chances.

Khalil Mack misses practice again. The guys debate if it would be better to leave him out vs. the Patriots.

The latest on the MLB playoffs with controversy in Houston and gamesmanship by the Brewers.

Will Perdue and Kendall Gill join the panel to discuss Kris Dunn’s absence from the opener and the team’s playoff chances this season.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below.

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Blackhawks make it official: Corey Crawford is back

Blackhawks make it official: Corey Crawford is back

He’s back.

Corey Crawford was officially activated from injured reserve on Thursday and will start in goal for the first time since Dec. 23, 2017 when the Blackhawks host the Arizona Coyotes.

"It’s exciting," coach Joel Quenneville said. "I’m sure he’s looking forward to it and we’re all excited about it as well. It’ll be a fun situation for the guys, seeing him back in the net as well. So we’re looking for everyone to be excited about tonight’s game."

The two-time Stanley Cup champion was medically cleared to practice from his concussion on Oct. 1, but the Blackhawks wanted to give Crawford as much time as he needed to get his conditioning and puck-tracking skills up to game speed before putting him into game action.

"It feels good to be back to myself," Crawford said on Wednesday. "I'm feeling good, I'm feeling clear. It was a pretty long process. ... 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."

To make room for Crawford on the 23-man roster, the Blackhawks have assigned forward Luke Johnson to the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League. Brandon Saad, who wore a white healthy scratch jersey all week at practice, will take his spot in the lineup.

For now, the Blackhawks will hang on to Anton Forsberg and carry three goaltenders as insurance as they get ready to start a seven-games-in-11-days stretch.

Crawford was 16-9-2 with a 2.27 goals against average, .929 save percentage and two shutouts in 28 games last season. The Blackhawks were 17-30-8 without him and finished last in the Central Division.