I know the headline on this post reads a little strange considering Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford has been out for a couple weeks with a reported upper-body injury. My hope (and I know I wasn’t alone in this) was Crow was being rested under the disguise of a mysterious “injury.” However, today’s news makes it less likely that’s the case.
The Chicago Sun-Times’ Mark Lazerus reported today a source has told him Crawford is dealing with a head injury and may be experiencing vertigo-like symptoms similar to those that sidelined Bryan Bickell during last season’s playoffs. This, to put it bluntly, is bad news.
Even if the source is off base or incorrect (Lazerus’ sources are typically solid), Crow now hasn’t skated since March 14 and hasn’t even been traveling with the team on road trips. It’s looking less likely with each passing day the Blackhawks are simply holding out Crow to give him some rest ahead of the playoffs, and it’s looking more likely he’s legitimately hurt, and not in a minor way.
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Crow last suited up March 14 against Los Angeles, permitting five goals on 25 shots as the Blackhawks did nothing to support him. Crow had been coming off a four-goal shelling at the hands of Dallas in the previous game, but, again, the team offered him little support in that outing. While Crow had come down a bit from his torrid and career-best pace earlier in the season, he was still performing very well ahead of those two clunkers.
Then, he was out with an “upper-body injury,” and mum has been the word from coach Joel Quenneville. He may be forced to address Lazerus’ source ahead of or after tonight’s game against the Minnesota Wild, so it’s possible we’ll learn more about Crow’s health before the night is up.
Scott Darling will continue to be rolled out for the Blackhawks, with Michael Leighton serving as the backup. Darling has been probably better than we could’ve expected since taking over for Crow, but he too has suffered from lack of defensive (and offensive, at times) support in many of his outings. Still, Darling is looking a lot more trustworthy of late, which is nice to see from a backup.
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Where this leaves Crow for the playoffs is entirely uncertain. We saw Bickell struggle immensely with the effects of vertigo, and I have to imagine, if Crow also has vertigo, the effects are especially troublesome for a goaltender. Some prime signs of vertigo are dizzy spells and the feeling of the world spinning around you. In an athletic position in which you have pucks and people flying at you with amazing speed, this would obviously pose a problem.
Even if Crow doesn’t have vertigo, he’s suffered a couple concussions in the past. If he has another one, that would be terribly troubling. Concussions are causing NFL players to quit football at a rapid rate recently, and for a 31-year-old goaltender who has pucks and bodies coming at his head on a regular basis, you’d have to think that option would come up if Crow was being seriously hampered by yet another concussion.
Of course, it might not be a concussion or vertigo. It could be something minor that the Blackhawks are taking very seriously while also allowing Crow some rest, as he’s already matched his career high in regular-season starts. But is any head injury really minor? Probably not. This latest news is very concerning to me, and I hope Quenneville emits more information tonight, before or after the game.