The Chicago Blackhawks have some good news with the return of goalie Corey Crawford, who is expected to make his first start in nearly 10 months Thursday against the Arizona Coyotes.
Crawford suffered a concussion last season and hasn’t played since December 23. He missed the last 47 games of last season, but he’s been practicing with the Blackhawks since September 29 and looks ready to rumble at last.
“We’ll see how he is in the morning, but we expect him to play tomorrow,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said Wednesday. “He looks good in the net.”
Chicago has leaned on Cam Ward to start and he’s played well enough to put them off to a 3-0-2 start, but they’ve allowed 21 goals in five games so far and would like to tighten that up. Ward has a 4.06 goals against average and a .879 save percentage.
The Blackhawks picked up Ward as a free agent on July 1. He left the Carolina Hurricanes after 13 seasons, winning a Stanley Cup in 2006 along with the Conn Smythe Trophy.
Crawford was off to a great start in the 2017-2017 season before the concussion, posting a 16-9-2 record with a 2.27 goals against average and a .929 save percentage. The injury was initially reported as “undisclosed” and eventually he was shut down for the season.
If Crawford does indeed make his return as expected, he’ll need to be activated off the injured reserve list. That means the Blackhawks will have to send a player down, which means third-stringer Anton Forsberg will probably head back down.
“[Crawford has] been off for a long, long time,” Quenneville said. “Do we expect rust? I think the way he’s competing and practicing and finding pucks, he looks like he hasn’t missed a beat. So, we’re looking forward to him getting in there and getting comfortable, and how he’s feeling going forward will dictate a lot of the decisions about him going back in.”