Blackhawks

Hawks, Wings will get very familiar with one another

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Hawks, Wings will get very familiar with one another

The last time the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings met, the Blackhawks were fighting for their playoff lives.

Yeah, its been that long.

Nine months after the Blackhawks lost their regular-season finale against the Red Wings, theyll finally finally resume the rivalry when they host Detroit Friday night at the United Center. After all that time, the Blackhawks and Wings will now play each other three times over the next 16 days.

Let the fun begin.

We have them a lot coming up, coach Joel Quenneville said. It seems like division opponents come in bunches. Well see them a lot for sure. There are a lot of things makes them a top team in our conference.

Despite how long its taken for the two to meet this season, the timing is still great. The Blackhawks sit atop the Western Conference standings (and the Central Division) with 50 points. Detroit, just three points behind, is fourth in the conference and second in the division.

The two teams similarities usually lead to good matchups.

Theyre a team thats made up, basically, the same way we are: four lines that can play hockey and push the pace. That makes for some quick, high-paced games and those are fun to play, Viktor Stalberg said. There are going to be a lot of opportunities both ways. Hopefully Corey (Crawford) can come up big again and hopefully we can put some pucks behind (Detroit goalie) Jimmy Howard tomorrow.

Its debatable that the Vancouver Canucks have become the Blackhawks biggest rival. But the one with the Red Wings is still up there and still has its panache. Its just in this one, theres more admiration than animosity.

I dont want to say we look up to them but we definitely respect them and we always look forward to playing them, Patrick Sharp said. Fans will be into (tomorrows game). Its easy to get up for those. The Canucks ones, you dont know whether to hit someone, slash someone or keep your own head up. Those are scary sometimes.

The longtime rivalry is back tomorrow. No, theres not a lot of nasty venom between the two anymore. But proximity, history and the constant battle for the Central title still fuel this fire plenty.

Its kind of fitting that we play them at this time of year, Patrick Kane said. Were both at the top of the standings in the West and have something to play for. Its kind of cool.

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

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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!