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By: Kyle Smyth

Corey “Crow” Crawford looks to return to the ice for the first time since last December

Since 1961, no Chicago Blackhawks starting goalie has won more than one Stanley Cup.

He may not be the flashiest netminder in the National Hockey League, but Corey Crawford’s leadership and past clutch performances mean so much to this Blackhawks franchise. So why not have him come back to a home crowd when the Blackhawks host the Coyotes on Thursday night at the United Center?

It’s not a given yet as Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville said the team and himself will decide on Wednesday if the 33-year-old Montreal native should return to the depth chart.

“He felt good again today,” Quenneville stated after Monday’s practice. “Between now and then [Wednesday], if everything goes right, he can go on Thursday.”

Crawford returned to practice as a full participant two weeks ago, and it’s suffice to say this fan/sports writer can’t wait to see No. 50 back in full pads when the Blackhawks hit the ice at the Madhouse on Madison.

Post-concussion syndrome (PCS) is not to be taken lightly though, and with Cam Ward manning the fort by recording two quality starts in his five games of work, it’s not as if the ‘Hawks need to rush “Crow” back into the starting lineup.

Ward has started all five of the Blackhawks’ games this season, with all five of them going into overtime. The ‘Hawks remain undefeated in regulation time with a 3-0-2 record, and the only other team to be undefeated in regulation time this season is the Devils with a perfect 3-0-0 record.

Crawford’s last two outings between the pipes during the 2017-18 campaign were anything but standard “Crawford-esque.” He allowed seven goals to get past him on 29 shot attempts, with his last start resulting in Quenneville pulling him late in the first period against New Jersey.

He then went on injured reserve on Dec. 27, but the doctors have cleared him for impact during the later part of the summer. He worked with goalie coach Jimmy Waite during training camp, where Crawford admitted to still having symptoms of PCS.

A return to the depth chart would likely mean Anton Forsberg being placed on waivers. If he clears waivers, he’ll receive a one-day bus ticket to Rockford to play for the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs.

Regardless of if Crawford returns on Thursday, Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews says the goaltender is “being himself again” and “practicing well.”

“I’m just happy to see him being himself again,” said Toews, who’s tied for second on the team, alongside Patrick Kane, with five goals. “He’s s such a great teammate and a fun guy to be around. He brings that energy every day. So that’s No. 1”

WIth either Ward or Crawford in net, it should be a Blackhawks win. The Coyotes, just four games into the season, are already listed in last place in the Pacific Division with a 1-3 record and goal differential of -6.

 


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