Team health for the Chicago Blackhawks has been a bit of an issue over the past month. Marian Hossa has been out multiple times, and is again day-to-day after a collision Sunday against Boston left him with a lower-body injury. Andrew Shaw recently went down with an injury and is also day-to-day. Duncan Keith got himself suspended for swinging his stick at Charlie Coyle‘s head.
And, of course, goaltender Corey Crawford has been sidelined since mid-March with an upper-body injury that has been speculated as a concussion or vertigo. Thankfully, however, it sounds like Crow is very close to returning.
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Coach Joel Quenneville told media last weekend he’d like to see Crow get at least one regular-season game in before the playoffs. This came after Crow actually skated for the first time since March 14. On Monday, Q followed up on Crow’s status by saying the 31-year-old netminder feels good and that, if the team is able to stick to the plan of getting him one regular-season start, Crow could play against Columbus on Saturday.
That is the final game of the regular season for Chicago and easily the “nicest” of the three left on the schedule. The Blackhawks have had a bizarre amount of trouble containing the week’s first opponent in Arizona, allowing nine goals in the previous two matchups (but still winning both), while throwing Crow out against the Blues as his “welcome back” seems like a surefire way for guys like David Backes and Ryan Reaves to “accidentally” run over the goaltender.
The Blue Jackets have proven to be one of the league’s worst teams this season and would offer a relatively soft return for Crow. He could then get about four to five days off, depending on when the Blackhawks’ playoff run starts, before taking on (probably) St. Louis in the opening round. You’d still have to worry about what I mentioned above regarding guys like Backes and Reaves, but it’s the postseason — no time to worry about things like that.
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I think it’s a great idea for Crow to get some time before the postseason begins. There’s really no way to effectively compensate for missing actual playing time, and one regular-season game could help Crow get back into his flow before the playoffs. Not the perfect situation, but better than having him make his actual return in the playoffs.
Regarding Hossa and Shaw, it sounds as though both could play this week. Shaw is out Tuesday against the Coyotes, while Hossa is questionable. There’s a chance both could be ready for Thursday’s tilt against the Blues, which could be an important game depending on how things play out ahead of time. Hossa’s case seems more optimistic than Shaw’s, with Q saying Monday “we’ll see him this weekend” when asked about Shaw, meaning he may be more likely to come back Saturday against Columbus.