Blackhawks: Why Corey Crawford shouldn’t start exhibition game vs Blues

The Chicago Blackhawks will need Corey Crawford at his best if he is going to play at all during the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Crawford might not be ready at all to face the Blues this week in their exhibition game.

Corey Crawford is going into Edmonton sporting a pretty solid season. But after missing most of the summer training camp should he really be starting the exhibition game against the Blues?

Corey Crawford has had a good year. Crawford has put up a .917 SV% along with a 2.77 GAA. Those stats are right there with his career averages, even at the age of 35. Even with those numbers, here is why he shouldn’t start the exhibition game.

Corey Crawford hasn’t been in net for game action since March 11th (6-2 Blackhawks win vs. San Jose). So, it will have been 20 weeks in between starts for Crawford. I know, an easy comeback to that is “no goalie has seen game action in that long.” True, but all of those other goalies were in their teams entire summer training camp. Crawford didn’t start his summer training camp with the Blackhawks until July 25th, the final day before the team headed to the bubble in Edmonton.

Crawford also had COVID-19, which is why he didn’t participate until July 25th. According to other people who have had the virus, even if you didn’t show symptoms, getting back into physical activity was tough. Your conditioning is hard enough to get back after four months off. With four months off and then getting the virus, that makes it even tougher.

Crawford was able to participate in the teams intrasquad scrimmage on Saturday, a scrimmage he didn’t fare well in. In one period of action he allowed three goals. He obviously isn’t all the way back, and you can’t expect him to be.

After all of this, would you want him to start an exhibition game against the first-place St. Louis Blue’s? To me, it would seem like a good way to overwhelm him. This isn’t to say he shouldn’t play in the game at all. He probably should. If he is going to be in net game one against the Oiler’s, he needs to get some time in net against the Blue’s, but he shouldn’t get the start.

I love Corey Crawford, as any good Blackhawks fan should. But, after few months off, and a battle with COVID-19, I think it may be best if the Blackhawks continue to put him in intrasquad scrimmages and practices until he gets his feet back under him. Let’s not push him too hard now, and the Blackhawks can turn him loose in the playoffs!