Jimmy Waite proud of Blackhawks’ 'steady' goaltending

Jimmy Waite proud of Blackhawks’ 'steady' goaltending

ST. LOUIS – Jimmy Waite figured Corey Crawford and Scott Darling will critique his third-period performance in the Blackhawks-St. Louis Blues alumni game, one in which he gave up goals to Keith Tkachuk and Pierre Turgeon.

“I’ll hear from the boys tomorrow. ‘What are you doing?’” Waite said on Saturday afternoon. “Maybe watch the video and see what I did wrong.”

As far as the reverse critique, the Blackhawks’ goaltending coach is happy with what Crawford and Darling have done this season. So are the rest of the Blackhawks, who know they may not be where they are in the standings if not for those two.

“I just like how steady they are,” Waite said. “They may have had a couple of bad nights all year, so that’s pretty good.”

Crawford has become very steady, especially over the last two seasons. Whether it’s helping a defensively depleted Blackhawks team last season or buoying a hit-and-miss scoring Blackhawks team this season, Crawford has been dependable. Waite said Crawford and Darling have sharpened some aspects of their game lately.

“I think [Crawford’s] post play around the net has improved a lot in the last three years. Same with Scotty. We’ve been working a lot on that,” Waite said. “Their games are very solid. They know how to manage the game very well, know when to challenge and when to stay back and we talk a lot about that and how deep you are in net. That’s important for us.”

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Darling showed he could handle a bigger workload while Crawford recovered from his appendectomy. Could Darling be a No. 1 at some point? Waite could see it.

“He proves it when he has to step in for a period of time he shows he can be a No. 1 and it’s a different thing to be No. 1, to be the guy night in and night out,” said Waite of Darling, who’s also an unrestricted free agent with a Blackhawks team that will, again, have money issues.

“For sure, I’d like to keep him, right?” Waite said of Darling. “But we’ll see with the cap what’s going to happen. A lot of things could change from here to the end of the year so we’ll see. But obviously I’d like to keep my goaltenders. I like them.”

Speaking of that Crawford appendectomy, Waite couldn’t have been the emergency because, as a former professional, he would have counted against the Blackhawks’ salary cap – “yeah, right? I’m too expensive,” Waite said. When Crawford returned from that appendectomy he looked great, taking a tough one-goal loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Dec. 23. Waite said he told Crawford to keep it simple coming off the surgery.

Waite enjoyed his second alumni-game turn in as many seasons – he had a memorable stop against Mike Modano in last year’s game against Minnesota’s alums. Now he’ll go back to keeping Crawford and Darling sharp. So far this season, it’s working.

“When goaltending gives you a chance to win every night, that’s what you’re looking for. So make the key saves at the right time, which makes a big difference in the game,” Waite said. “That’s what they’ve been able to do all year.”

Ahead of schedule from knee surgery, Brandon Davidson not worried about where he fits back in


Ahead of schedule from knee surgery, Brandon Davidson not worried about where he fits back in

The Blackhawks got a pleasant surprise on Friday when Brandon Davidson joined the team for morning skate after having knee surgery on Nov. 27 to clean up his meniscus.

He was expected to be sidelined 6-8 weeks. But just two weeks into his recovery, the 27-year-old defenseman returned to the ice and has skated in three of the past four days. He's way ahead of schedule and even Davidson is a little surprised by it.

"Sooner than expected, for sure," he said. "When I was told 6-8 weeks, that seemed like forever. But here I am two and a half weeks and I'm on the ice. I'm almost at full workouts. Still having trouble with range of motion, but very happy with how things are going."

The injury happened on Nov. 12 when the Blackhawks were in Carolina. Davidson took a hit that caused his knee to "blow up," which was initially believed to take only a few days to heal. But after the swelling didn't get any better, the Blackhawks felt a minor operation was necessary.

"Fairly easy quick fix," Davidson said. "No real damage, but something that we had to get under control."

Davidson is still at least a couple away weeks from returning to game action, but once he is cleared, there's no guarantee he'll have a spot waiting for him. The Blackhawks had nine defensemen on the ice during Friday's morning skate, showing just how crowded the blue line is.

"It’s great," coach Jeremy Colliton said of having Davidson back on the ice. "More guys healthy, more competition we have for ice and spots. It’s not like he’s ready to come back, but good to see him on the ice. " 

At some point in the near future, the Blackhawks will have to make some roster decisions — perhaps even before the league-wide holiday freeze starting on Dec. 19. But Davidson isn't worried about where he fits in. He can only control what he can control, and getting back to 100 percent is his No. 1 priority right now.

"You know what, I haven't thought a lot about it," Davidson said. "I can definitely see that the numbers are up on the back end, but I feel that when it's time for me to do my job, I can do that to the best of my abilities and I can play for my job."

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Check out Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford's sweet 2019 Winter Classic helmet


Check out Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford's sweet 2019 Winter Classic helmet

Corey Crawford's helmet for the 2019 NHL Winter Classic was revealed on Friday, and it's very easy on the eyes. Take a look:

So fresh, so clean. The Blackhawks unveiled their jerseys for the 2019 Winter Classic last month, paying homage to the team's 1934 uniform. Crawford's helmet obviously follows this trend, using the same color theme and logo.

Played on New Year's Day, the Winter Classic provides NHL teams with the opportunity to wear special occasion uniforms for the annual game. The Blackhawks, appearing in their fourth Winter Classic, are no stranger to this. 2019 will be their fourth appearance in the outdoor event, taking on the Bruins on at Notre Dame Stadium.

Previously, the Blackhawks faced the Red Wings at Wrigley Field (2009); the Capitals at Nationals Park (2015); and the Blues at Busch Stadium (2017). They are looking for their first win in the event, though, as they lost all three of their previous appearances in regulation. 

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