Ryan Garbutt impressing with speed during Blackhawks preseason


Ryan Garbutt impressing with speed during Blackhawks preseason

Ryan Garbutt hadn’t been at Blackhawks camp long when coach Joel Quenneville noticed what was most evident about his game.

“The thing that jumps out is his quickness, his speed,” Quenneville said of the forward.

It’s a good trait to have, especially joining this group.

Garbutt, who was acquired, along with defenseman Trevor Daley, when the Blackhawks traded Patrick Sharp to the Dallas Stars, has fit in well this preseason. He’s played with a variety of new teammates, as can be the habit in the preseason, and his speed has been evident. Garbutt scored two goals in his first two preseason games; he didn’t score against St. Louis, but he had some good opportunities and finished with a team-high six shots on goal.

“I think he’s had a real good camp and is very noticeable. He’s had a breakaway a game, at least, and that’s due to the explosiveness with his speed,” Quenneville said. “I think he’s a nice addition to our team, gives us a real intangible of having explosive speed. As he gets a lot more comfortable in how we move around the ice, I think that’ll enhance his game.”

[MORE BLACKHAWKS: Patient Marcus Kruger finally arrives in Chicago]

Garbutt said the transition has gone pretty smooth thus far.

“I think I’m more comfortable every game,” he said. “It was nice getting on the road, playing in Montreal (on Friday), just being in the season, playing the back to back like this. So I think it was good for me.”

For Garbutt, it’s about fitting in on this team and into this lineup. As well as speed, Garbutt can also play with an edge; that’s something else the Blackhawks aren’t deprived of, with Andrew Shaw, Andrew Desjardins and (possibly) Kyle Baun.

“It’s always nice to have players who play like you around you, guys who like to play hard, play with grit,” he said. “I haven’t talked to the coaches about stuff like that (my role). I’m just trying to earn my spot on the team.”

So far, it looks like he’s doing that. Chicago isn’t completely new to Garbutt — he played for the Chicago Wolves during the 2010-11 season. Now he’s just getting more used to downtown as opposed to the suburbs. It’s been a pretty easy adjustment; the one on the ice has been, too.

“I’m just trying to learn from the guys who are building a winning tradition here,” Garbutt said. “Everything’s been just as I’ve expected so far.”

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


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!