Blackhawks

Kyle Baun scores twice as Blackhawks beat Canadiens

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Kyle Baun scores twice as Blackhawks beat Canadiens

By Heather Engel

MONTREAL — With the Blackhawks' big names at home, Kyle Baun made an even bigger name for himself.

Baun scored twice and added an assist to help lead the Blackhawks to a 5-1 over the Montreal Canadiens on Friday night at the Bell Centre. Skating with Andrew Desjardins and Garret Ross, the line combined for seven points and nine of the Blackhawks' 31 shots on goal.

“I thought last year he played three games like he did tonight,” head coach Joel Quenneville said of Baun. “He really was noticeable, made an impact in the game, was in the puck areas around the net, tenacity, physical.

“We came in here watching him closely and the progress is good.”

Ross picked up a goal and an assist, while Desjardins contributed with two assists.

The power play got things started for the Blackhawks. Trevor Daley took a cross-ice feed from Teuvo Teravainen and fed David Rundblad at the point for the one-timer, deflected by Ryan Garbutt in front at 8:41 of the first period.

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Playing with Desjardins for the second time in as many preseason games, Baun acknowledged a chemistry between the two. It was clear on the Blackhawks’ second goal, which saw Desjardins deliver a soft drop pass to Baun before the later dished off to a driving Ross who, uncovered, finished off the tic-tac-toe play to the right of Carey Price.

Baun picked up his first of the night just over three minutes later. Daley’s point shot turned into a loose puck in front, Baun pounced on it to beat Price glove side.

“He’s big and strong, he skates well and good with the puck, too. I think he’s getting better and better all the time,” Desjardins said.

After the Canadiens got on the board 25 seconds into the middle period on an unassisted Zack Kassian tally, Baun found the net again at 3:02. Desjardins tossed the puck from the right corner, the disc deflecting of a Canadiens defenseman’s stick and Baun’s to find its way past Price.

“It was definitely exciting,” Baun said of putting up points on Price. “I was just trying to go to the net and they were a little greasy, but I’ll definitely take them. Those two guys made it easy to play with them, and it just worked out.”

Jan Hejda completed the scoring with an empty-netter.

How Blackhawks plan to handle Corey Crawford's workload

How Blackhawks plan to handle Corey Crawford's workload

Corey Crawford is back and it didn't look like he skipped much of a beat. The Blackhawks were handed their first regulation loss of the season to the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday, but the 33-year-old netminder stopped 27 of 30 shots (.900 save percentage) in his season debut and made several timely saves to keep his team in it.

In the larger picture, it was a win based on how well Crawford looked between the pipes.

"Yeah, I think it is," coach Joel Quenneville said after practice on Friday. "It's one of things we were wondering, how he would handle post-game and how he came in today. Very encouraging signs. He felt good in all aspects of what he went through and dealt with, and practiced well today too, so that was good."

The first one is in the books.

But what's the plan going forward? Will Crawford be on a "pitch count" or will they treat him like they have in past seasons when he was healthy?

In the past, Crawford has generally started somewhere in between 55-58 games per season. Part of that has been because of injuries. Another part is the Blackhawks have had reliable backups, which allowed them to give Crawford an extra night off here and there to keep him fresh.

It's not unreasonable, though, to think Crawford could flirt with 50 starts, considering he missed only five games to start the season. And they can still accomplish that by playing it safe.

The Blackhawks have 13 more back-to-backs this season, which gives them the opportunity to start Cam Ward at some point in each of them. That leaves room for another 15 or so starts to sprinkle in for Ward that could serve as rest days for Crawford and still being on track to start around 50.

Obviously, the Blackhawks want to be careful with how much they ask of Crawford because concussions are tricky to deal with and every player responds differently to it.

His return comes at a time where the Blackhawks are slated to play seven games in 11 days after playing just two in the previous 10. Thursday marked the start of that stretch.

"He’ll tell us how he feels and we’ll go from there and make those decisions," Quenneville said.

The Blackhawks have been on record saying they prefer not to carry three goaltenders. But in this case it makes sense. At least in the short term.

Quenneville said Friday that the Blackhawks will reevaluate the situation at the end of the weekend following the beginning of a busy stretch where they'll play three games in four days.

"Yeah, that’s the mindset," he said. "Let’s see how we handle these three in four and then we’ll address it."

Crawford is expected to start on Saturday in Columbus, making it his second start in three days. That's when they'll get a better sense of how he's handling things.

If it were up to him, Crawford said he feels he's prepared for it.

"Yeah, sure," Crawford said. "Why not? I've been working hard with [strength and conditioning coach Paul Goodman]. He's got me where I need to be, so I'm in shape right now. Why not?"

Hawks Talk Podcast: Thoughts on Corey Crawford's season debut

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USA TODAY

Hawks Talk Podcast: Thoughts on Corey Crawford's season debut

In the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle, Jamal Mayers and Charlie Roumeliotis recap Corey Crawford’s season debut after missing nearly 10 months with a concussion.

Mayers talks about the Kitty system that Niklas Hjalmarsson and Vinnie Hinostroza probably dealt with in their returns to Chicago.

The guys also discuss what’s next for Crawford, the upcoming matchup against Artemi Panarin and the Columbus Blue Jackets, and the Blackhawks’ biggest areas for improvement.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below, and be sure to subscribe, rate us and write a review!