The Blackhawks played in 13 back-to-back stretches going into the weekend and divided the starts between their two goaltenders in each of them to that point. They had the luxury of doing so with a pair of No. 1 type guys in Corey Crawford and Robin Lehner.
But for the first time all season, they changed course.
After winning four straight, the Blackhawks went back to Crawford on Friday in Detroit for his eighth consecutive start instead of turning to Malcolm Subban, who was acquired from Vegas at the NHL trade deadline. Crawford had a 5-2-0 record with a 2.55 goals-against average and .929 save percentage in his previous seven, so it's not a surprise he kept the crease.
“He’s rolling,” head coach Jeremy Colliton told reporters. “So we wanted to ride that.”
The Blackhawks lost 2-1, but Crawford stopped 23 of 25 shots for a .920 save percentage and was their best player on a night his team looked sluggish. That’s part of the reason why it was the right call to put him back in for a second straight day.
The other part is the fact the Blackhawks are fighting for their playoff lives and Crawford gives them the best chance to win on a nightly basis. It’s why he will make his ninth straight start on Sunday against the St. Louis Blues.
And until they’re mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, the Blackhawks are likely going to continue riding or dying with Crawford.
"Not going to commit to anything," Colliton said. "But he's going to play a lot, I'm sure."
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