Blackhawks

Hawks' Smith looking to build off good day

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Hawks' Smith looking to build off good day

Ben Smith stood at his locker on Monday, a smile on his face.

"I felt pretty good," said Smith. "It's just as it's been all along. I'm just seeing day in and day out how it's going."

Welcome to dealing with a concussion. Smith will take days like Monday, when he's able to skate and at least take part in the non-contact drills. He has yet to be cleared for contact but he's hoping the recovery continues.

"It's nice to get him on the ice," coach Joel Quenneville said. "If he practices a couple more days in a row then maybe we'll get an indication. Things have been better the last few days."

Things were up and down last week for Smith, who suffered his concussion on Sept. 28. He skated with the team early last week, then was off the ice by the end of it. The term "part of the process" was used to describe Smith's status heading into last weekend, which sounded like the forward had a setback.

"It's just part of the way things are with concussions. You never know," Smith said. "The best-case scenario is to be cautious."

Smith is handling the situation well, probably because he realizes he has no choice. There's no such thing as rushing back from these anymore, no just telling the coach, 'Hey, I'm fine,' and you're back in the lineup. Talking to the doctors, telling them how he feels, clearing the tests: that's the protocol, and Smith will take all the time he needs to get there.

Still, like any other player devoted to the game, Smith has a lot of pride. Here's a player who didn't miss one game in his college career. He admits he took pride in that. So sitting right now isn't fun.

"It's tough watching games. But you can't mess with your head," he said. "Arms and legs are different. You want to be 100 percent when you come back and that's what I'm working toward. I'm just trying to get back."

Smith's also talking plenty with Dave Bolland, who missed a month last spring with his own concussion. Bolland, who has talked several times about how hard those recovery weeks were, spoke with Smith when both did not travel to Dallas last week.

"He said, 'Hey, take your time, make sure you're 100 percent,'" Smith recalled. "You've seen how he's come back from these type of things. Obviously he's been doing the right things to be back. That's definitely someone I listen to."

Smith will heed all advice, diagnoses and test results. He has no choice. He just hopes to build off days like Monday.

Briefly

Corey Crawford was given a day off on Monday. Crawford has a slight groin injury but Quenneville said the goaltender should be back practicing on Tuesday. Niles resident Scotty Czarnik, who played club hockey at Arizona State but is transferring to Illinois State, was the Blackhawks' No. 2 goaltender at Monday's practice.

Daniel Carcillo skated on a line with Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa on Monday. Whether he's with that group long or not, Carcillo will make his regular-season Blackhawks debut on Thursday when they host the Winnipeg Jets.

Viktor Stalberg (left knee) skated by himself on Monday and could rejoin the Blackhawks practices Tuesday or Wednesday.

Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information

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.

Sports Talk Live Podcast: Is Crawford ready to go?

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USA TODAY

Sports Talk Live Podcast: Is Crawford ready to go?

Jimmy Greenfield, Connor McKnight, and Matt Spiegel join Kap on the panel to discuss Corey Crawford back on the ice for the first time in 10 months. The Bears have good news when it comes to Khalil Mack, who injured his ankle against the Dolphins.

Plus, Fred Hoiberg announces that Jabari Parker is coming off the bench for the season opener.

Listen to the full episode here or via the embedded player below: