Blackhawks

President Obama recognizes Scott Darling, Kimmo Timonen

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President Obama recognizes Scott Darling, Kimmo Timonen

WASHINGTON - Scott Darling sheepishly waved to the East Room audience on Thursday morning, moments after President Barack Obama asked him to do so.

The Blackhawks backup goaltender performed a random act of kindness earlier this month in Arizona. Plenty read the story, which went viral online; on Thursday, Obama recognized Darling for it.

The president singled out Darling and former Blackhawks defenseman Kimmo Timonen during the team’s visit to the White House. Timonen, who hoisted his first Stanley Cup last June when the Blackhawks won their third in six seasons, was honored for overcoming the blood clots that almost cost him his final year. Obama then spoke of Darling helping a man in Arizona earlier this month; Darling set the man up in a hotel for a month, giving him time to get back on his feet.

“I couldn’t have more respect for Scott’s modesty, but now that it’s out there, I think it’s a good deed that bears repeating. A champion reached out to help somebody who needed a hand, even though he didn’t have to, even though nobody was looking, even though he wasn’t asking anybody for credit,” Obama said. “I’d like to think that reflects something about our city, about Chicago; it’s a very American thing to do. So Scott, I want to say thank you.”

[RELATED: Obama asks for another Chicago championship, even the Cubs]

Neither Darling nor Timonen were made available to the media following the Cup ceremony, but fellow Blackhawks talked of the moment.

“It’s awesome. That’s what it means to be a hockey player and, at the end of the day what makes winning a championship so special is that you’re surrounded by guys like that,” Jonathan Toews said. “The fact that the president highlighted that, I think, shows what type of leader he is; a lot of respect for that. It’s a cool thing for the two of those guys to get a little shout-out in that moment there.”

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!