Blackhawks

Five Things to Watch: Crawford, Blackhawks visit Price, Canadiens tonight on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Crawford, Blackhawks visit Price, Canadiens tonight on CSN

Watch as the Blackhawks take on the Montreal Canadiens tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 6 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Blackhawks Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.

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Five Things to Watch:

1. Hello again, Andrew Shaw.

Remember him, Chicago? Shaw had his welcoming back party at the United Center on Nov. 13 but the Blackhawks spoiled his return by beating his new club 3-2. Now they're going to his new house. Shaw has had a roller coaster season for the Canadiens, racking up by far a career-high 101 penalty minutes in only 55 games, but he's been much more disciplined and effective ever since Claude Julien took over behind the bench. He has 10 goals and 14 assists, and is logging an ice-time average of 15:09 per game.

2. Corey Crawford returns to hometown.

There's no place like home. The Blackhawks play in Montreal only once per year, and Crawford has always brought his A-game against the team he grew up rooting for. In eight career NHL starts against the Canadiens, Crawford owns a 6-0-2 record with a 1.49 goals against average, .951 save percentage and one shutout. That's the highest save percentage against any other team he's faced throughout his career. Crawford is also coming off his best performance of the season in which he stopped a season-high 42 saves in a 4-2 win over Minnesota.

3. Carey Price heating up, too.

On the other end of the ice there's Price, who's a former Vezina Trophy and Hart Trophy winner. After a terrific start to the season, Price cooled off big time in December and January but has really returned to form here as of late. He's won his last six starts, and has allowed only six goals on 165 shots during that span, good for a .964 save percentage.

4. American-born players chasing history.

Patrick Kane made history last year by becoming the first U.S.-born player to win the Art Ross Trophy for most points and Hart Trophy for league MVP, and is right in the thick of both races again this year. He enters tonight with 73 points, trailing Connor McDavid by only two for the league lead, and could become the first player to win the scoring title in back-to-back seasons since Jaromir Jagr in 1999-2000 and 2000-2001.

Max Pacioretty is also aiming to put his name in the history books by becoming the first U.S.-born player to win the Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy for most goals in a season. The award was first handed out in 1998-99. Pacioretty is tied for second in the NHL with 33 goals, trailing only Sidney Crosby and Brad Marchand (35).

5. A fun finish?

If there's one thing the Blackhawks and Canadiens have in common, it's that both teams turn it up in the third. They each have scored their fewest amount of goals in the first period, and most in the third period. The Canadiens have won seven of their last eight, while the Blackhawks have won 13 of their last 16. They didn't go on those runs without channeling some late-game magic.

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Oilers, Blackhawks' play-in round opponent, release training camp roster

Oilers, Blackhawks' play-in round opponent, release training camp roster

Sunday afternoon, the Edmonton Oilers released their Phase 3 training camp roster. Training camps begin on Monday for teams competing in the NHL's 24-team playoffs under the league's Return To Play program. 

The Blackhawks, who were at No. 12 in the Western Conference at the time of the NHL pause on March 12 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will face the No. 5 Oilers starting Aug. 1 at Edmonton in a best-of-five qualifying round. 

Related: Oiler's Mike Green opts out of NHL's Return To Play program

Edmonton invited 33 players to attend their Return To Play camp.

Forwards Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl headline the team's roster. Mikko Koskinen and Mike Smith are among the five goalies listed.

Western Conference teams will head to Edmonton's ICE District hub to prepare for the postseason tournament on July 26.

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How Blackhawks' Corey Crawford's career prepared him for Oilers series

How Blackhawks' Corey Crawford's career prepared him for Oilers series

When the Blackhawks signed Vezina trophy finalist Robin Lehner to a one-year deal last offseason, many thought that would be it for Corey Crawford. They thought Lehner would run away as the No. 1 goalie in Chicago and Crawford would disappear.

Those who still doubt Crawford, a two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Hawks, haven't watched his career very closely. 

Just as he battled to lead the Blackhawks to a Stanley Cup championship in 2015 after suffering an off-ice lower-body injury and just as he battled back to be a reliable last line of defense after multiple concussions the last couple seasons, he battled for the Hawks' net this season. 

Related: How will long layoff affect goalies in NHL's 24-team postseason?

NHL Network analyst Kevin Weekes thinks it's that experience of battling and repeatedly finding his game after long layoffs from injuries that could make him a dangerous opponent for the Edmonton Oilers in the best-of-five qualifying round in the NHL's 24-team postseason kicking off Aug. 1 at Edmonton, assuming Crawford is the Hawks' starting goalie. The Blackhawks begin their training camp for the postseason on Monday.

"For somebody that hasn't gone through (injuries) before, there's so many unknowns and then maybe there's question marks and the mental elevator starts creeping up at times in ways that aren't helpful," Weekes, a former NHL goalie, told NBC Sports Chicago over the phone. "But the fact that he's had that experience in battling back from injury and coming back a long way and having extended layoffs, this isn't foreign to him. 

"So in that respect, it should be beneficial in a weird way and also give him the chance to heal up and rest up even more by way of this extended pause. I think that those things play in his favor. Those things should be playing in his favor for sure."

Related: How Blackhawks can beat Oilers with 'wealth of success' in qualifying round

This year, Crawford competed hard for the No. 1 goalie role. Leading up to the NHL pause on March 12, he had made 39 starts (16-20-3) and had a goals-against average of 2.77 with a .917 save percentage before the Hawks traded Lehner to the Vegas Golden Knights ahead of the trade deadline. With the Blackhawks, Lehner made 31 starts (16-10-5) and had a goals-against average of 3.01 and a .918 save percentage. Both tenders' numbers were hurt by an often struggling Hawks defense this year.

"I've always been a huge advocate of Crow. Crow's had an excellent run in Chicago," Weekes said. "I think the biggest challenge for him, which we all know, which isn't a state secret, (there's) just been some health challenges and he always battles back. Crow's a guy that'll battle and he's been able to come a long way back and rediscover his game, which is hard to do after layoffs, let alone multiple ones. 

"And I think this year, once he got back, talking to their goalie coach in Jimmy Waite and you got to credit Jimmy because he's put in so much work to be able to regroup Crow, numerous times. So this season specifically, when he first started, it was a little bit of a slow start as expected because he had such an extended layoff. 

Related: What's Blackhawks' key to victory over Oilers in NHL play-in series?

"But, I really think with them having Robin Lehner, it really helped because they didn't have to throw Crow right into the fire. And then Crow hit his stride and he's playing really well. ... He's played really well, coming down the stretch he looked excellent as well and that's great news for the Hawks because they're going to need him, especially in a shorter series in this play-in round against Edmonton and the fact that Crow has the experience that he does, he's played in huge games. 

"He's played in, obviously, Stanley Cup (finals). He's a winner, he's not afraid of the big stage. He's not afraid to play in a place like Chicago, he thrives on that and not to mention, internationally for Team Canada. I think where they're concerned, as far as his ability and his talent, he just looks like himself right now, which is great news for the Hawks and I know that his teammates have a lot of confidence in him so as long as he's able to... I know he's been on the ice, as long as he's healthy and feeling good they've got a good shot because he's been there before and he's done it before. 

"It's a unique opportunity for him and for his team, but he can lean on that experience of having played in big spots like the Stanley Cup Final and playoffs for years. That could be an advantage for the Hawks actually in that respect."

It's not clear who will start in net yet for the Oilers. Mikko Koskinen was 18-13-3 this year with a 2.75 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage and Mike Smith was 19-12-6 with a 2.95 goals-against average and a .902 save percentage. 

Although some of their numbers may measure up to Crawford's, neither goalie's journey can compare to his.

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