The Chicago Blackhawks have been without goalie Corey Crawford since the commencement of training camp on July 13, but that hasn’t dampened spirits.
The team is hopeful that Crawford will make the trip to Edmonton when the Blackhawks gear up to face the Oilers in the first round of the qualifying tournament.
Chicago is the 12th seed in the Western Conference. Edmonton is the fifth seed. The first game of their series will go August 1 at Rogers Place. The winner goes on to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, while the losing team has a shot at the number one pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft.
As for Crawford, he’s been ruled “unfit to play” and hasn’t worked out with the team yet. Voluntary workouts for the Blackhawks began June 8.
As we all know by now, that “unfit to play” appellation is the law of the land. It means teams cannot disclose illness information or details about injuries to players, which in turn has led to a lot of obvious ambiguity and major speculation.
Crawford missed a combined 80 games the previous two seasons due to concussions, but this season he’s been healthy. In 40 games, the netminder went 16-20-3 for a 2.77 goals against average and a .917 save percentage. That put him fifth among goalies to play at least 40 games.
Chicago’s been struggling as of late and hope to use this qualifying round as a way to make a statement, so having Crawford is instrumental in making that happen. The Blackhawks have been rolling with Malcolm Subban, Collin Delia, Kevin Lankinen, and Matt Tomkins as netminders in training camp.
“My understanding is, players who go to Edmonton with when you leave this Sunday, that’s your group,” general manager Stan Bowman said. “The big issue is bringing players in who are not in the bubble. You try to make as many strides as we can to keep the environment closed, so you don’t want players coming in from outside. If you have 10 guys get hurt in the first round, six weeks into the playoffs, they’ll probably have to revisit that. But that’s not the plan right now.”
Prior to facing the Oilers, Chicago will go toe-to-toe with the St. Louis Blues in an exhibition game on July 29.