Blackhawks

The So-Cal Blackhawks Connection

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The So-Cal Blackhawks Connection

With Calgary in town to face the Blackhawks Sunday night, the Flames former Head Coach and General Manager is reportedly dotting Is and crossing Ts to take over behind the Los Angeles Kings bench for the fired Terry Murray and Interim Head Coach John Stevens. Darryl Sutters wrapping up the business of getting back to the NHL after being fired as Flames GM about a year ago. That means the crosstown southern California rivals will be coached by former Blackhawks teammates, thanks to an earlier coaching call by a third member of the 1985-86 Hawks.

A few weeks back, Anaheim GM Bob Murray pulled the plug on coach Randy Carlyle about as reluctantly as Kings GM Dean Lombardi was forced to with Terry Murray last week. Bob Murray a co-captain on that Hawks squad with Sutter 26 years ago brought in Bruce Boudreau just two days after he was fired by Washington. Boudreaus seven-game Blackhawks career took place that same season. Those two are reunited in the difficult task of trying to resuscitate the Ducks to the level they played in the second half of last season.

Sutter, meanwhile, is a curious move. If theres anyone whos not L.A., its Darryl. Or any of the Sutter brothers, for that matter. Yes, he has long and strong relationship with Lombardi, but his reputation as a task-master, the fact he hasnt coached in five years, and his defense first philosophy make me wonder if this will be a good fit. Defense hasnt been the Kings problem (with the NHLs 5th-best goals-against average entering Saturday night), its their league-worst offense.

Meanwhile, another former Blackhawk was involved in the leagues sixth head coaching change this season on Saturday. Randy Cunneyworth who played briefly for the Hawks 18 years ago takes over for the rest of the season in Montreal after the firing of Jacques Martin. Cunneyworth was an assistant under Martin, but only speaks English. The last Canadiens head coach who didnt speak French as well was Al McNeil back in 1970, before Scotty Bowman took over and won the Stanley Cup the next season. Good luck with the media and fans there, Randy. The Habs visit the United Center to face the Blackhawks Wednesday.

One other note: During a casual get-together with reporters Friday morning before his teams game with the Hawks, Boudreau was asked about his memories of that brief stint here as a player. He said the organization treated him well, but he wished it lasted longer than seven games. Pully (Coach Bob Pulford) never put me in, he laughed.

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!