Chicago Blackhawks: Corey Crawford Activated, Delia to AHL Good for Everyone

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford during the second period against the St. Louis Blues at the United Center in Chicago on Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018. The Blackhawks won, 1-0. (Nuccio DiNuzzo/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)
Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford during the second period against the St. Louis Blues at the United Center in Chicago on Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018. The Blackhawks won, 1-0. (Nuccio DiNuzzo/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images) /

Today the Chicago Blackhawks activated Corey Crawford from IR and sent Colin Delia down to their AHL affiliate.

The Chicago Blackhawks were quiet on the day of the NHL trade deadline — for more on that check my article, here — but they did make an organizational swap. The Chicago Blackhawks officially activated Corey Crawford from injury reserve and sent rookie goaltender Collin Delia back down to the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs.

Delia deserves a nod of respect from Blackhawks fans for his work in Crawford’s absence. Upon stepping into the NHL he faced shots of 48, 50 and 42 throughout his first 5 games. That’s a tough work for a seasoned veteran, let alone a rookie.

Delia’s numbers have dipped a bit after his hot start as he is heading back to Rockford with a .909 SV% and a 3.48 GAA. On the season with the ‘Hawks, Delia went 6-4-3.

Delia put together two different 3-game win streaks during his time in the NHL and he’s been a big reason the team has been able to stay in games this season.

Fortunately, Corey Crawford is returning at the same time Collin Delia seems to be cooling off a bit. In Delia’s last three starts he’s given up 13 goals including a disastrous 6 goals against performance against the Boston Bruins. Then, trying to perform well in a come-back game, he gave up 3 goals on only 10 shots to the Ottawa Senators.

Delia will still be playing meaningful hockey in the AHL as the Rockford IceHogs fight for a spot in the playoffs. In the AHL this season, Delia has a 2.33 GAA and a .933 SV%. Obviously, these numbers are significantly better than his NHL stats of late.

Delia’s time in the AHL will ensure he can go back to being the no. 1 guy, an experience vital to his development into a no. 1 goaltender. Ideally, Delia will earn some valuable experience down there to better prepare himself for next season. The Blackhawks signed him to a 3-year contract a few weeks ago, meaning they plan on him being around for a while.

Now enter Corey Crawford.

Crawford is often viewed as being the Chicago Blackhawks savior. It’s an unfair role to assign, but its’ origin makes sense. The ‘Hawks have been a defensively flawed team for a couple years now, yet Crawford’s play in net has allowed that to appear as less of a problem than it is.

Without him in net the last two seasons, the Chicago Blackhawks “weak spots” on the defensive end have proven to be burning holes in their roster.

The hope in the Blackhawks community is that Corey will be able to come back and compensate for these problems like he has before.

That’d be nice — and deep down I’m hoping he’s able to play at that level once again too — but don’t hold your breath.

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After returning from his last concussion, Crawford’s numbers were expectedly underwhelming. Partially because of the time he missed, and partially because of how horrible the ‘Hawks are defensively. He went 6-14-2 while posting a .902 SV% and a 3.28 GAA.

Only 35% of Crawford’s 23 starts were deemed “quality starts.”

So yeah, he wasn’t great. Then again, the Chicago Blackhawks were much, much worse during the November-December period that Crawford was playing than they are now.

This team is still flawed defensively, but they’re playing better hockey in all aspects of the game. With Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews doing everything they can to lead their team back into the NHL playoffs, Crawford is a great guy to have come back right now.

Like Toews and Kane, Crawford’s been in those Stanley Cup situations too. He wants to be playing meaningful hockey just as badly as these two. He could be a difference maker in the Blackhawks clawing their way back into the playoff conversation after taking themselves out of it when they left four big points on the table this past weekend.

The timing isn’t just good for the ‘Hawks, either. Cam Ward has been playing well as he’s won 7 of his last 9 starts. Ward’s play allows Crawford to ease his way back into that starters role as opposed to being forced into it.

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So, it seems to be a rare win-win situation for everyone. The Blackhawks get Crawford back, Delia gets experience being the no. 1 guy while playing meaningful hockey and Crawford comes back to a better Blackhawks team with a hot goalie to ease him into the transition.