Blackhawks

No timeline for injured Blackhawks

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No timeline for injured Blackhawks

DETROIT Niklas Hjalmarsson skated again on Saturday but will be out tomorrow when the Chicago Blackhawks take on the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday afternoon.

Jonathan Toews (concussion) is still progressing but coach Joel Quenneville said the captain will not join the Blackhawks on this road trip. Quenneville said Toews is still not skating, but were seeing progress and optimistic that hes going to be back.

Hjalmarsson (concussion) said he felt good, albeit tired, Saturday after going through the teams practice assistant coach Mike Kitchen was working with him on conditioning.

It just feels good to be on the ice, he said. Obviously not playing is not the most fun part. But they have to get your conditioning back. Kitch is very good at getting you pretty tired out there, so Ive been through a couple of good skates here the last couple of days. I feel good and well take it from there.

The Blackhawks have been hit with one of the toughest injury bugs the ones on which its so hard to put a timeline. But Quenneville said injuries are part of every season.

I think when we played concussions werent even an injury or probably werent diagnosed the same way. With history, time and more awareness to it were more familiar with how to treat them. Its something thats progressed in our game but thats part of it, he said. Youre always hit with injuries. Some teams are decimated by them but its something you go through. Were getting tested down the stretch without two key guys like Johnny and Hammer. Its a great test and we loved the response last night. It makes you a better team.

Meanwhile, Dave Bolland sported some stitches near his right eye after a run-in with Ottawas Jason Spezza on Friday night. Bolland wore a visor at Saturdays practice.

Well try that for a while and see how it goes, said Bolland of the visor. Its a little different when you have a shield in front of you. But its always safer.

Ray Emery will start against the Red Wings tomorrow.

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!