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Friday, December 27, 2013
Crawford close; Khabibulin's status unclear

By Scott Powers

CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford is getting close to returning to practice with the team after missing almost three weeks because of a lower-body injury, coach Joel Quenneville said Friday.

"Real good progress," Quenneville said of Crawford after Friday’s morning skate. "Felt good today and had a much [more] intense workout than he had last times on the ice. Over the next couple, three days, get him more with the guys as we go along here. We like the progress. He feels much better."

Crawford hasn’t played in a game since suffering a lower-body injury against the Florida Panthers on Dec. 8. He returned to the ice last week, but he has not practiced with the team yet. Quenneville said Crawford could travel with the team for Saturday’s game against the St. Louis Blues but he would not play.

Quenneville said he still did not have an update on goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin. Khabibulin suffered a lower-body injury Nov. 16.

"It’s tough to say right now because we haven’t heard much of a progress where you get an indication that we can get him on the ice," Quenneville said. "That's where it's at. I don't want to say it's anything longer than that. I can't give you a better answer than that."

Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said recently that he expected Khabibulin to play for the Blackhawks again this season.

Blackhawks rookie goaltender Antti Raanta will make his eighth consecutive start in Crawford’s place against the Colorado Avalanche on Friday. Quenneville was unsure whether Raanta also would start against the Blues Saturday.