Blackhawks

Sharp hurt while Hawks remain winless in 2012

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Sharp hurt while Hawks remain winless in 2012

Updated: Sunday, Jan. 8 at 10:25 p.m.

The Blackhawks had several opportunities to get some breathing room over the Detroit Red Wings. They couldnt convert on enough of them, and the Wings took advantage late.

Patrick Sharp scored his 20th goal of the season for an early 2-0 lead, but the Blackhawks lost that and Sharp as they dropped a 3-2 overtime decision to the Wings on Sunday night. The Blackhawks dropped to 0-3-1 in January and to fifth overall in the Western Conference.

The big concern at the moment is Sharp, who suffered an upper-body injury in the first period. He did not come out for the second and third periods. Coach Joel Quenneville said theyll run some tests with Sharp and know more about his status on Monday.

It was a crazy ending with Henrik Zetterberg scoring with less than five minutes in regulation to tie it and Pavel Datsyuk getting the game-winner in overtime. Corey Crawford wasnt happy with the Wings second goal.

A guy came in and lifted my stick before the puck was even near there. Thats how it went under, he said. I guess they just dont pick up on that stuff. We shouldve won that game. The guy came in and interfered. Its embarrassing.

When asked if there shouldve been some Detroit penalties late, Quenneville talked of the opportunities the Blackhawks did have and didnt capitalize on.

We had a couple of power-plays that would have been nice; would have been nice to score on the penalty shot, he said. Thats what it is: tight game, a couple of rolling pucks, one went in and one didnt go in.

Defenseman Duncan Keith concurred.

We get another (goal) there and it definitely helps us out and puts us in a better spot, he said. We had chances to score. It was close the whole way and they ended up finding a way at the end.

The Blackhawks scored two goals in 44 seconds in the first period, the first a power-play goal by Dave Bolland and the second Sharps. The Blackhawks had four power plays on the night, scoring on just that first one. They thought they scored an even-strength goal midway through the third period but video review proved inconclusive on it crossing the goal line. Jimmy Hayes was awarded a penalty shot on that play, however, but Ty Conklin stopped it.

It was a good effort by (Hayes). Its a tough situation, a lot of pressure in that circumstance, but it doesnt have to come down to that, Jonathan Toews said. Weve got to find a way to close out 60 minutes and play hard the way we did in the first two and protect that one-goal lead.

It was a bitter pill to swallow, considering the Blackhawks played the type of game they wanted. Theyve left points out there to start this month and theyve lost some ground in the West. They know there are improvements to be made, but theyre not panicking.

That race weve had, we might have been ahead of those teams but it wasnt like we were light years ahead of them, Quenneville said. Its a one-, two-point swing here, everybodys in the mix. I see this battle going on all year and the conference is tightening up as well. We did give away a lot of ground here this week and its up to us to regain where were at.

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!