Blackhawks

No Quick solution: Hawks suffer rare home loss

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No Quick solution: Hawks suffer rare home loss

Updated: 10:58 p.m.

The opportunities were there for the Chicago Blackhawks to get one past Los Angeles goaltender Jonathan Quick, and some of them were fantastic. But Quick had an answer for every one of them.

Quick stopped 38 shots for his NHL-leading fifth shutout of the season, and Trent Hunter and Jarret Stoll scored in the Kings 2-0 victory over the Blackhawks. It was a rare loss for the Blackhawks this month (9-2-1), and only the second time theyve fallen to the Kings in their last 12 meetings.

Coach Joel Quenneville praised both goaltenders Corey Crawford stopped 36 of 38. But he wasnt too happy with the officiating on the Kings two goals.

I thought both their goals shouldve been whistled down. There shouldve been infractions on both, said Quenneville, who thought there was goaltending interference on the first goal and a slew foot on the second. Clearly the refereeing tonight was tough to watch, but we still had a lot of chances at the other end, and unfortunately youre not going to win the game when you dont score a goal.

Replays showed that Kings right wing Justin Williams did slew-foot Blackhawks defenseman Nick Leddy right before Stoll scored.

But as Quenneville said, you still have to score a goal on the other end to have a chance. And the Blackhawks couldnt. They had some good opportunities, from early power plays to late Patrick Sharp shots. But nothing got through Quick or, in some cases, his teammates.

There were a lot of rebounds sitting right there but those guys were diving and saving them with sticks and shin pads, I dont know how (the pucks) stayed out, said Viktor Stalberg, whose four-game point streak was snapped. Sometimes you end up on the losing side. Our shot selection couldve been better but sometimes you run into a hot goaltender.

Crawford was once again strong for the Blackhawks. He came up big throughout the game, especially when the Blackhawks were killing off six minutes worth of penalties in the first 10 minutes of the game. He also stalled a Mike Richards penalty shot late in the second period.

But the Blackhawks couldnt get anything on the other end.

Give (Quick) credit: hes a good goaltender and he made some pretty good stops out there. But youd have to say he had a horseshoe you-know-where on a few of those plays, Jonathan Toews said. He was making some big stops out there that, I dont know if it just got to us, that we felt that the puck just wouldnt go in tonight, and that trend kept going in the third period.

The Blackhawks had their chances. Theyve converted on them more times than not recently. Sometimes, you just get bested by a hot goaltender.

I think its one of those nights when we played as good as the opponent. Their goalie played unbelievable, Marian Hossa said. We had some quality chances and he made big saves. He basically won the game for them.

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!