Chicago Blackhawks: Corey Crawford

Crawford to miss two more games

October, 22, 2014
Oct 22
1:03
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford will miss the next two games due to an upper-body injury, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said on Wednesday.

Quenneville said Crawford will not travel with the team to play the Nashville Predators on Thursday and the St. Louis Blues on Saturday. He hoped Crawford would resume skating while the team was away.

Crawford practiced on Monday and didn’t show any signs of an injury, but Quenneville said Crawford didn’t feel good on Monday night and felt worse on Tuesday morning. Crawford sat out Tuesday’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers. He started the team's first four games.

Antti Raanta replaced Crawford and stopped all 32 shots he faced in a 4-0 win over the Flyers on Tuesday. Raanta is expected to start the next two games.

The Blackhawks have back-to-back games on Saturday and Sunday. Quenneville said he would address his starting goaltender for Sunday’s game against the Ottawa Senators on the day of the game. He said Scott Darling, who was recalled from the Rockford IceHogs of the AHL on Tuesday, could start on Sunday.

W2W4: Flyers at Blackhawks

October, 21, 2014
Oct 21
12:53
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO -- Here’s what to watch for when the Philadelphia Flyers and Chicago Blackhawks play at the United Center on Tuesday:

• The Blackhawks will be without No. 1 goaltender Corey Crawford due to an upper-body injury. Antti Raanta will make his season debut. Raanta learned he would start on Tuesday morning. He was 13-5-4 with a 2.71 goals-against average and .897 save percentage as a rookie during the 2013-14 season.

• Blackhawks forward Kris Versteeg will also make his season debut Tuesday after missing four games with a lower-body injury.

• The Blackhawks are riding a four-game points streak with a 3-0-1 record to start the season. They have been pleased with their record and their shot quantity -- they’re averaging a league-best 40 shots on goal per game -- but haven’t been happy with their goal quantity. They have scored 11 goals, with six of those coming in one game. Their 11 goals have been divided between six at even strength, three on the power play and two shorthanded.

• The Flyers arrive in Chicago with a 1-2-2 record and are coming off a 6-5 overtime win over the Dallas Stars on Saturday. Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek and Wayne Simmonds each have seven points for the Flyers. Simmonds is tied for second in the league with five goals. Goaltender Steve Mason will start in net. He is 0-2-1 with a 3.78 goals-against average and .865 save percentage this season.

• Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville has switched up his lines in hope of getting more offense. His first three lines will be Patrick SharpJonathan ToewsMarian Hossa, Versteeg – Andrew ShawPatrick Kane and Bryan BickellBrad RichardsBrandon Saad. The fourth line will include Marcus Kruger and Ben Smith, but Quenneville wouldn’t say whether Daniel Carcillo or Jeremy Morin would also be on that line. The Blackhawks’ defenseman pairings are expected to be Duncan KeithBrent Seabrook, Johnny OduyaNiklas Hjalmarsson and Trevor van RiemsdykMichal Rozsival.

• The Blackhawks’ focus will be on improving their power play. They were 0-for-5 on the advantage Saturday and are 3-for-21 for the season.

“You could talk about every area the other night and say it has to be better,” Quenneville said. “Faceoffs, retrievals, shot selection, lack of shots, entries, every area. We have to be better across the board. We can’t be happy with the last game.”

W2W4: Predators at Blackhawks

October, 18, 2014
Oct 18
11:59
AM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO -- Here’s what to watch for when the Nashville Predators and Chicago Blackhawks play at the United Center on Saturday:

• The Blackhawks are 2-0-1 and have picked up at least a point in their first three games. They’re coming off a disappointing 2-1 overtime loss to the Calgary Flames. The Blackhawks outshot the Flames on goal 50-18.

• Blackhawks defenseman Michal Rozsival will make his season debut Saturday. He missed the first three games with an upper-body injury. Blackhawks forward Kris Versteeg will miss a fourth consecutive game with a lower-body injury. Versteeg participated in the team’s morning skate and is ahead of schedule after suffering an injury Oct. 7. He was originally expected to miss three weeks.

• The Blackhawks' defensive pairings will be different from the first three games. The pairings are expected to be Duncan KeithBrent Seabrook, Johnny OduyaNiklas Hjalmarsson and Trevor van Riemsdyk – Rozsival. The lines will be Patrick SharpJonathan ToewsMarian Hossa, Brandon SaadAndrew ShawPatrick Kane, Bryan BickellBrad RichardsBen Smith and Daniel CarcilloMarcus KrugerJeremy Morin.

• Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford has allowed two goals in each game this season. He has a 1.90 goals-against average and stopped 69-of-75 shots for a .920 save percentage.

• One of the Blackhawks’ focuses against the Predators will be being more direct with scoring opportunities. They felt they were too “cute” with the puck against the Flames and lacked quality chances.

“We counted the chances we could’ve had, probably 10 of the 15 were A-plus, another five would’ve been real chances that didn’t even qualify as scoring chances,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “Whether too cute, not bearing down or not aware, and some of the pressure from them, give them some credit as well. A lot of times in that area, you don’t need style points to score goals. We need to finish, and I think that’s a little disappointing at that end of the game because we did so many other good things. We should’ve been rewarded somewhere.”

• The Blackhawks have scored a power-play goal in each of the first three games. They are 3-of-16 on the power play and 10-of-11 on the penalty kill. The Predators are 1-of-12 on the power play and 10-of-12 on the penalty kill.

• The Predators improved to 3-0-1 with a 2-0 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Friday. Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne made 31 saves in the shutout. Filip Forsberg leads the Predators with five points. The Predators haven’t allowed more than two goals this season and are second in the league with a 1.30 goals-against average.

• Former Blackhawk Viktor Stalberg made his season debut Friday. He missed the first three games with a lower-body injury.

Crawford saves the day for the Hawks

October, 10, 2014
Oct 10
12:05
AM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
video
 
DALLAS -- Chicago Blackhawks hockey has looked a certain way in recent seasons.

It’s been about puck possession, getting the puck out of their defensive zone -- through the neutral zone and into the offensive zone in rapid fashion -- limiting opponents' scoring chances and rolling four lines.

The hockey the Blackhawks were playing through 40 minutes of their season opener Thursday against the Dallas Stars resembled something much different.

"Certainly, it was tough to watch for 40," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville admitted afterward.

The Stars had a lot to do with that. They were fast and aggressive and had the Blackhawks struggling to connect on the simplest of passes out of their defensive zone. Penalties also factored, with the Blackhawks compiling six through the first two periods and fighting off power plays for nearly 10 minutes. They were taken completely out of their usual game.

Add all those ingredients together and the Stars could have made a significant statement and trounced the Blackhawks to start the season. The Stars had the quantity -- 54 total shots, including 24 on net -- and quality to put the Blackhawks away.

Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford wouldn't allow that to happen.

While his teammates were searching for any sort of rhythm on Day 1, Crawford quickly found his groove. He denied chance after chance, including a couple at point-blank range, and kept the Blackhawks in the game. He ended up with 32 saves, including 14 in the second period, and stopped all three of the Stars' shootout chances to carry the Blackhawks to a 3-2 victory.

Quenneville thought someone should call 911 on his team.

"We have to call the cops; we stole two points tonight," Quenneville said. "Crow was great -- that first period, the second period even better. You know we got going in the third. Certainly, call that a goalie win. I thought they were quick and they came at us."

Crawford's teammates understood what he did for them.

"I think no question he was the first star of the game," said Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp, who had a goal and an assist. "If it wasn't for him, we would have been in a lot of trouble, especially early on. Even down the stretch, the last minute of third period, shootout, you want to take a clip from any part of that game, and he was the best player on the ice."

Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane used his own share of adjectives to describe Crawford's performance.

"I know Q [Quenneville] calls it a goaltender win, and I think that was more evident today than ever before," Kane said. "He was awesome. He made some unbelievable saves. Couple breakdowns by us that we can probably clean up a little bit, and even in the last minute he had a big save when we were on the power play. So we'll call that one, in Q's words, a goaltender win."

Crawford shrugged off the praise. It was all in a day's work from his perspective.

"I don't know about bailout," Crawford said. "Just in there trying to do my job. It definitely was a pretty slow start for us. We gained our timing as the game went on and gained our confidence and that speed and puck-possession game as we went further into the game. You could see that.

"I felt good. I was seeing the puck well, reading the plays, staying pretty patient for the most part. That was pretty solid overall, I think."

Rapid Reaction: Blackhawks 3, Stars 2 (SO)

October, 9, 2014
Oct 9
10:32
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
video
 
DALLAS -- Here’s a quick look at the Chicago Blackhawks' 3-2 shootout victory over the Dallas Stars at the American Airlines Center on Thursday:

How it happened: The Blackhawks pulled out the season-opening game by winning in a shootout. The Stars controlled possession for much of the game, but didn’t have the goals to show for it. Duncan Keith first put Chicago ahead with a late first-period goal. Dallas answered with two second-period tallies. Trevor Daley scored a power-play goal at 10 minutes, 13 seconds of the frame and Cody Eakin added a second goal at 15:04. The Blackhawks fought back and tied the game when Patrick Sharp netted a power-play goal from the top of the right circle at 11:10 of the third period. Things remained that way through the rest of the third and overtime. The Stars outshot the Blackhawks 34-26 on goal. Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen made 24 saves; Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford had 32. Chicago forward Patrick Kane scored the lone shootout goal.

What it means: The Blackhawks looked out of sorts for the first 2½ periods Thursday and must feel fortunate to pull out the two points. The Stars could have run away with that game if it hadn't been for Crawford’s play. It didn’t help the Blackhawks that coach Joel Quenneville already shied away from playing the fourth line, particularly Daniel Carcillo, and defenseman David Rundblad. The Blackhawks might have to look into placing Kris Versteeg on long-term injury reserve if Quenneville can’t trust Carcillo. It’s the only way the Blackhawks can afford to bring someone up from the AHL.

Player of the game: Crawford stole the game for the Blackhawks. He had 32 saves and denied all three of the Stars’ shootout opportunities.

Stat of the game: The Stars blocked nine of Keith’s shots and combined for 26 blocks in all.

What’s next: The Blackhawks host the Buffalo Sabres at the United Center in Saturday's home opener. Four of the Blackhawks’ first five games are at home.

Blackhawks season preview: 5 questions

October, 9, 2014
Oct 9
11:10
AM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
1. Are the Chicago Blackhawks better built to win the Stanley Cup this season?

The Blackhawks were a favorable bounce away from reaching the Stanley Cup finals again last season, so it’s difficult to say last year’s team was poorly constructed. But it did have flaws. Michal Handzus couldn’t duplicate his 2013 playoff performances and held the Blackhawks back as their second-line center. The acquisition of Kris Versteeg never gave the Blackhawks the boost they hoped for because his knee just wasn’t strong enough to get him around the ice quick enough. Brandon Bollig and the fourth line became a liability when Marcus Kruger and Ben Smith were taken off the line. Nick Leddy and Michal Rozsival also had their share of mistakes at the back end. Chicago also lacked the center depth to match up with the Los Angeles Kings.

[+] Enlarge
AP PhotoBrad Richards may not be the swiftest on the ice, but his vision and power-play experience are assets for the Blackhawks.
Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman addressed most of those issues in the offseason. Handzus is gone and Brad Richards is in. The Blackhawks feel more confident with Jonathan Toews, Andrew Shaw, Richards and Kruger down the middle. Teuvo Teravainen could also be in the mix at center at some point this season. Jeremy Morin was re-signed and actually will be provided a consistent opportunity to play. Bollig was traded. Signing Daniel Carcillo was unexpected, but Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville has said he likes a fourth line of Smith, Kruger and Morin. Versteeg looked faster in the preseason, but his recent injury, which will likely keep him out three weeks, is another bump in the road for him. If healthy, the Blackhawks have four lines capable of giving them more depth than they had a season ago. Defensively, they’re rolling the dice with some inexperience but still have four reliable defensemen. Corey Crawford still is good enough in net to win a Stanley Cup.

The Blackhawks are favored by many to win the Stanley Cup, but they certainly aren’t a sure thing. They are better on paper in some areas compared with last season, but the defense has to be a concern to start the season. Versteeg’s injury already has set the team back. With him healthy, the Blackhawks have four strong lines. Without him, the Blackhawks aren’t as deep. The Central Division is going to be a gauntlet. There certainly will be many challengers and a favorable bounce may be required somewhere down the line, but the Blackhawks do have the pieces to win another Stanley Cup.

2. What does Brad Richards’ addition mean to the Blackhawks?

Richards is undoubtedly an upgrade over Handzus. Richards isn’t a speed demon, but he can get up in the play, has vision and can create for himself and others. His power-play experience should also come in handy. The first question about him is where he fits in now. He was aligned to center Brandon Saad and Patrick Kane through five preseason games, but Quenneville caught another glimpse of Saad, Shaw and Kane together and everything changed. Richards was moved to center the third line. The second question is how Richards will hold up over the entire season. His play varied for the New York Rangers throughout last year's regular season and playoff run. Richards is out to prove he still has plenty left in the tank and is hungry for a Stanley Cup, so the motivation is in place.

3. How good does Corey Crawford need to be in net for the Blackhawks to win?

There have been two Corey Crawfords in recent seasons. There has been the one who is average during the regular season. He has some good games and some bad games, and he ends up somewhere in the middle of the pack among the league’s goaltenders. Then there’s the Crawford who is lights-out in the playoffs. The Blackhawks could have been eliminated by the St. Louis Blues in the first round last season if it wasn’t for Crawford. The Blackhawks are hopeful Crawford is more of the latter than the former this season. He doesn’t have to match Tuukka Rask’s numbers, but he has to give Chicago a consistent chance to win the game whenever he steps into the net.

4. Can Brandon Saad take the next step?

The Blackhawks saw glimpses of Saad’s potential during his first two seasons, but they hadn’t witnessed anything like his play against the Kings in the Western Conference finals. He was dominant. His skating, strength, work ethic, offensive skill set and patience were all at another level. And it was apparent that he and Kane were creating something special out there. Saad must now prove he can repeat that more often than not. While he has established himself as a top-six forward, he still has shown signs of being a young player, especially from a consistency standpoint. Aside from it being his third year in the NHL and him being a year older, Saad should benefit being alongside Kane again. The sample size is large enough now to see Saad and Kane produce when they’re together. On another note, the Blackhawks were at their best last season when Quenneville had Toews, Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa together.

5. How much does Nick Leddy’s departure affect the Blackhawks?

The Blackhawks had to trade someone to get under the salary cap. That was the reality of their situation. But by making Leddy the one to go, the Blackhawks are taking a risk with some unproven defensemen. You know what you have in Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Johnny Oduya and Niklas Hjalmarsson. You don’t exactly know what Kyle Cumiskey, David Rundblad and Trevor van Riemsdyk will provide. Even to an extent, it’s difficult to gauge what Rozsival still can give the Blackhawks. Chicago may be just fine without Leddy and may find the right combination of defensemen to make things work. But there will be a trial period before the Blackhawks can be confident in all six of their defensemen. If the Blackhawks can figure out their fifth and sixth defensemen, their chances of winning another Stanley Cup improve.

Hawks notes: Crawford takes another step

September, 26, 2014
Sep 26
11:15
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford saw a bit of everything Friday in his first full game of the preseason.

Crawford faced breakaways and odd-man rushes. He had to fight to see the puck through traffic. He had to react to his defensemen turning the puck over in their own defensive zone and giving up quick shots. He had to stay on top of his game when the Blackhawks struggled to get the puck out of their defensive zone and stay alert when the Blackhawks had lengthy offensive possessions.

Crawford didn't get the final result he was seeking as the Blackhawks fell to the New York Rangers 4-1 at the United Center, but he was able to take away some positives as he continued to get himself ready for the regular season.

[+] EnlargeCorey Crawford
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images"I felt better as the game went on," Corey Crawford said despite allowing four goals. "Another step forward to the start of the season."
"It wasn’t too bad," said Crawford, who stopped 25 of 29 shots. "They were playing pretty hard, so it was almost like a regular-season game. Just trying to get a feel for the timing. I felt better as the game went on there. Just another step forward to the start of the season."

Crawford particularly felt that seeing shots in traffic and countering tips and rebounds Friday further prepared him.

"Those plays in front of the net, those plays happen a lot," Crawford said. "That's how teams score goals in this league. I'm just trying to get a feel for that and looking through bodies and finding the puck.

"[It's about] just reps. Sometimes, it can be a bad bounce, too. Being in the right position, reading the shot as it comes. Sometimes, you lose it halfway, but you have a good read on it and you know where it's going."

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said Crawford will likely receive one more full game among the three preseason contests remaining. Quenneville said he'd also like to further evaluate the team's other goalies, including Antti Raanta, Scott Darling and Michael Leighton.

Crawford said he thought he and his teammates would take another step before the preseason comes to a close.

"There's still room for improvement to get where we need to be," Crawford said. "I don't think anyone on the team is at their best right now. I don't think anyone is worried in here, either. Just use the next couple games and really bear down to get that speed we're used to.

"[I need to] stop the puck, make sure I have my timing; I’m at the right place at the right time. I'm patient. Other than that, just go out there and react."

Unhappy coach: Quenneville was not pleased with the Blackhawks' play Friday, particularly in the first period. The Rangers scored in the game's opening minute and held Chicago without a shot on goal for 12-plus minutes to end the first period.

"Not at all, no, it wasn't a very good effort on our part," Quenneville said. "The first shift illustrated what happens when your mind and your preparation is not in the right place."

Despite some frustration, Quenneville wasn't too angry with his players. The team has been practicing or playing games every day since training camp opened Sept. 19.

"This is the first day where we had one of those days we're sitting there, 'Oh, we need a day off,'" Quenneville said. "No excuse. It was the first day that it was ugly from where we stood and watched."

Standouts: Forwards Phillip Danault, Jeremy Morin and Dennis Rasmussen all received praise from Quenneville after the game.

Danault set up Rasmussen for the team's lone goal, and Morin was active on both ends throughout the game. Quenneville combined the players on a line in the third period.

"I liked [Danault], had a couple forwards who really stood out," Quenneville said. "I think he was one of them. So, we're happen with him. I liked Rasmussen as well up front.

"There's a lot of good, a lot of positives [with Morin]. I thought he did some good things tonight, had some energy. He's played all three games. I think that'll be a good process for him to get a feel for the game."

Hawks training camp notes

September, 20, 2014
Sep 20
8:38
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Here are some notes and tidbits from the Chicago Blackhawks training camp Saturday:
  • Forward Ryan Hartman celebrated his 20th birthday with a goal during a scrimmage. “It’s a good birthday gift, I guess,” he said. Hartman, a Chicago-area native, had a number of family members in town to celebrate with him.
  • Teuvo Teravainen had the highlight goal of the day after he deked to his right and finished to his left past goaltender Scott Darling. Teravainen wasn’t sure what he did. “I didn’t know I had a move there,” he said. “I just got the puck from [Mark] McNeill. I was pretty close to goal, so I just tried to move the goalie a little bit and shoot.”
  • Patrick Kane leads all scorers with three goals after two days of scrimmages. He scored a goal in each of the scrimmages Friday and added another Saturday. Teravainen, Andrew Shaw and Marian Hossa each have two goals.
  • Stephen Johns, who played four years at Notre Dame, got a lot of love from the stands after setting up Jonathan Toews for a goal. The large crowd erupted in cheers when Johns’ name was announced with an assist on the play. Johns has also been giving daily interviews to local media members.
  • The Blackhawks are trying out Matt Carey at wing. He played center throughout college at St. Lawrence University. “Today is the first day we’ve put him on the wing,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “I liked him a lot. He seemed like he was more noticeable today. But he’s got some speed; he’s got some quickness to his game. We got a lot of centers organizationally. They’re almost all in that same area. I think maybe we’ll get an opportunity to see him on the wing and see how he handles it. I think that versatility will be something he can add to his game as well.”
  • Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford can be expected to play in at least two full preseason games. The rest of the work will likely be divided among Antti Raanta, Michael Leighton and Darling. Kent Simpson and Mac Carruth could also have a chance to play in net. “There will probably be four guys who get the games,” Quenneville said. “How much is still being determined. Corey, we probably want to get him a couple of full games. I imagine the first two games we’ll split those half-games between the goalies.”
  • Quote of the day came from Kris Versteeg, who got married during the summer. “Yeah, all married up and she’s got me on lockdown,” he said. “So there were a lot of veggie juices this summer. It’s a new look on life and hopefully start a family.”

Hawks storylines (No. 2): Crawford in net

September, 19, 2014
Sep 19
9:00
AM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
ESPNChicago.com's Scott Powers counts down to Friday's opening of the Chicago Blackhawks' training camp with a look at 20 storylines facing the team this season.

Corey Crawford was one of the primary reasons why the Chicago Blackhawks reached the Western Conference finals last season.

He was extraordinary in net through the first two rounds of the playoffs. Without his 34-save shutout against the St. Louis Blues in Game 3 of their first-round series, the Blackhawks likely don’t advance to the second round. All told, Crawford stopped 351 of 377 shots for a .931 save percentage in the first two rounds.

The seven games of the Western Conference finals weren’t as kind to Crawford. He allowed 26 goals and had a .878 save percentage against the Los Angeles Kings in the series.

Crawford wasn’t to blame for all of the goals, but he took responsibility for the end result. If the Blackhawks are going to make another Stanley Cup run, they need him to be better.

“It wasn't good enough,” the 29-year-old Crawford said after last season of his own play. "We lost. It was too many goals. Take away the Game 2, that was a blowout in the third period. That couldn't happen, but it did. They seemed to get a lot of traffic in front of the net. I felt pretty much all year I was pretty strong battling through traffic and finding pucks, and that was probably the worst part of my game in that series.”

After an up-and-down 2013-14, Crawford will be aiming for more consistency this season. He struggled early in the season and had .907 save percentage through his first 27 games. He went down with an injury in December and was a different player when he returned in January, posting a .926 save percent over the final regular-season 32 games. He finished with a .917 save percentage, which put him 15th in the league among goalies with at least 40 games.

Crawford is expected to shoulder a heavy starting load again this season. It would be beneficial both to him and the Blackhawks if Antti Raanta became more comfortable in the backup role. Raanta’s struggles as the No. 2 goalie late last season didn’t allow Crawford much rest -- a change from the previous season, in which the balance between Ray Emery and Crawford was key to Chicago's regular-season success.

Hawks need goalie depth in free agency

July, 1, 2014
Jul 1
11:43
AM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
Offseason trade and free-agent rumors surrounding second-line centers are certainly more interesting than second-tier goaltenders, but acquiring the latter could also be important to the Chicago Blackhawks come next season.

[+] EnlargeCorey Crawford
Bill Smith/NHLI/Getty ImagesThe Hawks are set with Corey Crawford as their No. 1 goalie and Antti Raanta as his backup, but beyond them there isn't much depth in their system.
The Blackhawks have their No. 1 goaltender in place in Corey Crawford and now their No. 2 after recently re-signing Antti Raanta. Beyond that, the organization is bare of NHL-ready goaltenders. Kent Simpson is the only other signed goaltender who has NHL experience, and he's played a total of 20 minutes.

The Blackhawks are hopeful they won't need anyone beside Crawford and Raanta next season, but that's unlikely. Only three teams -- the New Jersey Devils, Pittsburgh Penguins and San Jose Sharks -- got away with playing just two goaltenders all of last season. The Minnesota Wild and Florida Panthers each threw five different goaltenders in net during the regular season.

The Blackhawks have dealt with the reality of injuries at that position in the past two seasons. Nikolai Khabibulin played a total of four games last season before he was sidelined for the rest of the season. Crawford has missed games in each of the last two seasons due to injury. Henrik Karlsson was Crawford's backup in the first round of the playoffs in 2013 because Ray Emery was hurt.

Because the Blackhawks have their top-2 goaltenders set and likely will be tight with the cap, they're going to need to find someone who they can sign cheap on a two-way deal during free agency, which begins on Tuesday. That eliminates the likes of veterans Martin Brodeur and Tim Thomas. They're more likely to pursue goalies such as Mike McKenna, Drew MacIntyre, Joey MacDonald, Cedrick Desjardins and Yann Danis.

The Blackhawks were in an adequate spot with goaltenders in 2013. They had Karlsson and Carter Hutton on the depth chart after Crawford and Emery. But Hutton left the Blackhawks and started 35 games for the Nashville Predators this past season. Karlsson went overseas to play.

Khabibulin's season-ending injury this past season forced the Blackhawks to trade for Jason LaBarbera, who had some NHL experience and could be used in an emergency situation. LaBarbera is another option for the Blackhawks next season. He had a 2.94 goals-against average and .901 save percentage in 32 games for the Blackhawks' AHL affiliate, the Rockford IceHogs.

The Blackhawks would ideally have a prospect ready to make the NHL jump if needed, but their system doesn't have that player right now. The 22-year-old Simpson, a second-round pick in 2010, has been in the minors for the past two seasons and still needs time to develop. He had a 3.64 goals-against average and .891 save percentage in 31 games for the IceHogs last season. Mac Carruth, a seventh-round pick in 2010, spent most of last season in the ECHL.

"I thought Kent learned a lot of things this year," Blackhawks director of hockey administration and general manager of minor league affiliations Mark Bernard said recently. "We weren't always the best defensively in front of him. That's not easy on a goaltender. I think he really learned when Jason LaBarbera came in. That was kind of a protégé system. Kent's learning. He's getting better. I don't think he's at his ceiling.

"Kent played his first year in Toledo, and Mac did it this year. It's a grind the first year. We're not looking at [Carruth's] numbers, but if he's giving his team a chance to win a nightly basis."

The only other goaltenders in the Blackhawks' system are Matt Tomkins, a seventh-round pick in 2012, who will be a sophomore at Ohio State next season, and Ivan Nalimov, who they selected in the sixth round on Saturday. The Blackhawks opted this year not to sign Brandon Whitney, a seventh-round pick in 2012, who played in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League this past season.

The Blackhawks haven't had much luck drafting goaltenders in the past decade. Crawford and Simpson are the only Blackhawks' draft picks to appear in an NHL game since Crawford was drafted in 2003. The Blackhawks have drafted 11 goaltenders since 2003.

Blackhawks assistant general manager Norm Maciver talked earlier this year about the difficulty of drafting and developing goaltenders.

"We're certainly trying to develop goaltenders," Maciver said in March. "To draft a kid at 18, it's a very difficult position. Look at Crawford, he had five full years in the American League. It's not something that happens overnight. It's very difficult to draft goaltenders and hope for them to develop in 1-2 years. Most goaltenders in the NHL are past 25 years old. You have to be patient. Hopefully one of these guys becomes a good goaltender for us in the near future."

For now, the Blackhawks likely will have to find another one somewhere outside the organization.

Hawks player reviews: Corey Crawford

June, 11, 2014
Jun 11
8:00
AM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
Corey Crawford Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty ImagesCorey Crawford was dominant at times in the playoffs for the Blackhawks.

Corey Crawford, Goaltender


2013-14 cap hit: $2,666,667 | Age: 29 | Season stats: 32-16-10, 2.26 GAA, .917 save percentage

Season recap: Crawford's play was all over the map at times this season, ranging from mediocre to great. He struggled early in the season prior to being injured in December. He returned in January playing at a higher level. He took his game up another notch in the first two rounds of the playoffs, but wasn't the same player in the Western Conference finals.

Season highlight: Crawford had a number of memorable performances in the playoffs, but he was at his best against the St. Louis Blues in Game 3 of the first round. The Blackhawks were down 2-0 in the series, and the Blues outplayed the Blackhawks at times in Game 3. Crawford came through and stopped all 34 shots he faced in a 2-0 win.

Season lowlight: There weren't a lot of soft goals, but Crawford allowed 25 goals over the final six games of the Western Conference finals. He allowed four or more goals in five games in the series.

Final grade: B-

Inside the numbers: Crawford had a .925 even-strength save percentage during the regular season. He was ranked 19th in that category among goaltenders with at least 25 starts this season.

Notes: Crawford recorded his 100th career win on Nov. 29. He became the eighth Blackhawks goaltender to reach the 100-win mark.

Quotes: "It wasn't good enough," Crawford said of his play in the Western Conference finals. "We lost. It was too many goals. Take away the Game 2, that was a blowout in the third period. That couldn't happen, but it did. They seemed to get a lot of traffic in front of the net. I felt pretty much all year I felt I was pretty strong ... battling through traffic and finding pucks and that was probably the worst part of my game in that series."

What's next: Crawford will be the Blackhawks' No. 1 goalie for many years. His six-year, $36 million contract goes into effect next season. The Blackhawks will look for more consistency out of him.

Five reasons Hawks didn't defend Cup

June, 2, 2014
Jun 2
2:25
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
The Chicago Blackhawks' quest to repeat at Stanley Cup champions came to a halt on Sunday as they fell to the Los Angeles Kings in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals.

Here are five reasons the Blackhawks landed short of winning another Stanley Cup:

1. Blackhawks general manger Stan Bowman's decision to keep most of last season's Cup-winning team together didn't work: Nineteen players returned from the Stanley Cup roster, and the thought was the same group could win another Cup together. That didn't play out as they hoped.

[+] EnlargeMichal Handzus
Joel Auerbach/Getty ImagesMichal Handzus was a minus-8 and had just three points in the playoffs.
Bowman re-signed veterans Michal Rozsival and Michal Handzus after they contributed to the Cup run, and they weren't the same players this season, especially in the playoffs. Rozsival was solid throughout the playoffs last season. He was a plus-9 and had a 57.4 Corsi percentage (shot differential) in 23 playoff games. In the playoffs this season, Rozsival was a minus-1 and had a 52.9 Corsi percentage. Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville saw enough of Rozsival's struggles in the second round that Rozsival was a healthy scratch for two games.

Handzus' drop in play was more significant. He had 11 points, was a plus-7 and provided a stable second-line center in the playoffs last season. He couldn't replicate that performance this time around. He had three points, was a minus-8 and was the team's fourth-line center by the end of the playoffs. He had a 48.7 Corsi percentage in the playoffs last season and dropped to 36.3 this season.

Bowman traded away Dave Bolland and Michael Frolik and didn't resign Viktor Stalberg in the offseason. Bowman said he wanted to make room for some of the organization's prospects. Players such as Jimmy Hayes, Jeremy Morin, Brandon Pirri and Ben Smith were all expected to contribute. Smith was the only one who stuck in the lineup. Morin and Pirri showed their upside during stretches this season, but Quenneville wasn't convinced overall and went with his veterans. Hayes and Pirri were traded during the season, and Morin was a healthy scratch for a majority of the playoffs.

Losing Bolland and Frolik wasn't much of a factor in the regular season. A fourth line of Brandon Bollig, Marcus Kruger and Smith was fine throughout the season. The Blackhawks' penalty kill also figured out how to succeed without Frolik. But in the playoffs, the absences of Bolland and Frolik were noticeable. The Blackhawks weren't as deep of a team, and Quenneville became heavily reliant on three lines. Stalberg was in Quenneville's doghouse last season, but he still played at least seven minutes a game throughout the playoffs. In Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals last season, every forward except for Stalberg played 10-plus minutes of even-strength ice time.

By comparison, Handzus, Bollig and Kris Versteeg, the team's fourth line on Sunday, all played fewer than seven minutes of even-strength ice time. Handzus played 6:52, Versteeg 3:34 and Bollig 2:28. It wasn't like that for just one game, either. Bollig averaged 6:24 in 15 playoff games and played as little as 1:50 in one game. Versteeg played a total of three shifts after the second period in the last two overtime games. Handzus' even-strength ice time was diminished throughout the playoffs. Morin and Joakim Nordstrom played less than seven minutes in five of their combined nine playoff games.

2. The Blackhawks didn't add any pieces during the season that paid off in the playoffs: Handzus was that piece last season. This season Bowman considered re-acquiring Versteeg as the Blackhawks' major in-season move in November. Versteeg was part of the Blackhawks' 2010 Stanley Cup team, and they saw him as a versatile forward who could fill their third-line wing spot and provide consistent offense.

Versteeg didn't live up to those expectations. His play fluctuated during the regular season, and he had 10 goals and 19 assists in 63 games for the Blackhawks. He began the playoffs on the Blackhawks' top line, but he ended it barely playing, finishing with one goal, two assists and was a minus-5 in 15 playoff games. He was also among the team's worst possession plays and had a 41.7 Corsi percentage. He could remember being a healthy scratch just once prior to the playoffs this season, and it happened to him three times by Quenneville in the playoffs. Versteeg has said he came back too soon from a knee injury, which happened last season, so the Blackhawks have to hope a full offseason will do him and his knee good for next season.

Peter Regin, acquired from the New York Islanders in February, formed one of the team's better lines with Bryan Bickell and Morin, but Quenneville didn't stick with it entering the playoffs. Regin played in five playoff games.

3. The Blackhawks began and ended another season with questions about their second-line center: Handzus gave them enough in the playoffs last season, but his play didn't hold up over the course of this season. More importantly, he wasn't much help to Patrick Kane, who scored one goal in 5-on-5 situations with Handzus in the regular season, according to stats.hockeyanalysis.com. They were together for 310:16. Kane had 16 goals while with other teammates in 5-on-5 situations.

[+] EnlargeTeuvo Teravainen
Steve Babineau/NHLI/Getty ImagesIs Teuvo Teravainen the answer at second-line center for the Hawks next season?
Pirri was expected to start the season as the second-line center, but an injury during training camp derailed that. Quenneville used Pirri there later in the season, but it didn't last. Andrew Shaw, Regin, Kruger and Smith also saw time at second-line center. Brandon Saad was even given a crack at it in training camp. Quenneville remarked how much he liked Shaw alongside Saad and Kane during the Kings' series. Shaw could be valued too much as the team's consistent third-line center and his career 43.9 faceoff percentage may be reason to believe he won't stay there.

Teuvo Teravainen could be the solution. He's the organization's top prospect, and his offensive ability would be ideal for Kane. Inexperience is a concern with the 19-year-old Teravainen as is his size (5-foot-11, 169 pounds).

4. The Blackhawks weren't as consistent defensively and in the net during the playoffs: The Blackhawks allowed an average of 2.02 goals against in 23 playoff games last season. They gave up 2.90 goals against this season.

The Blackhawks' possession numbers were also down from last season. Their Corsi close percentages (shot differential with the game tied or within a goal in 5-on-5 situations) last season were 56.8 against the Minnesota Wild in the first round, 54.6 against the Detroit Red Wings in the second round, 51.2 against the Kings in the Western Conference finals and 57.0 against the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup finals, according to extraskater.com.

Their percentages in the playoffs this season were 50.1 against the St. Louis Blues in the first round, 49.7 against the Wild in the second round and 47.8 against the Kings in the Western Conference finals. The Blackhawks just weren't the same puck-possession team.

No one pointed the finger at Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford for his play against the Kings, but he wasn't the same goaltender who led them to six consecutive series victories. He had a few off games before, but they never stacked up, and he always bounced back. He allowed four or more goals in 5-of-37 playoff games prior to facing the Kings. He gave up four or more goals in five of seven games against the Kings and allowed 26 goals and saved 187 of 213 shots for an .878 save percentage. He had allowed 26 goals and had a .931 save percentage through two series this season. He had a 1.84 goals-against average and a .932 save percentage in the playoffs last season.

5. The Blackhawks may never admit it, but they may have been tired and beaten down in the end: The Blackhawks clinched the Stanley Cup on June 24, 2013, and then had a summer of Cup celebrations. They were back on the ice in early September for training camp, returned to an 82-game regular-season schedule, had 10 players participate in the Olympics and were again making another late playoff run. That's a lot of hockey, and they seemed unable to put together complete-game efforts as consistently as they did last season. They also went through grueling series with the St. Louis Blues and Minnesota Wild before taking on the Kings.

Rapid Reaction: Kings 5, Blackhawks 4 (OT)

June, 1, 2014
Jun 1
10:26
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive


CHICAGO -- Here’s a quick look at the Los Angeles Kings’ 5-4 overtime win over the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals at the United Center on Sunday:

How it happened: Game 7 didn’t disappoint. After six wildly entertaining games, the Blackhawks and Kings put together another memorable one in Game 7. The series was put to bed when Alec Martinez scored the game-winning goal at 5:47 of overtime. The beginning and middle of the game were nearly as dramatic. The Blackhawks got their home crowd roaring with goals by Brandon Saad and Jonathan Toews in the game’s first 8:36. It would take more than that to put the Kings away. They responded with goals by Jeff Carter and Justin Williams to tie it. Twelve seconds after Williams’ goal, Patrick Sharp put Chicago back ahead. The teams combined for five first-period goals. The Kings answered again with a Tyler Toffoli goal to tie it at 10:31 of the second period. The Blackhawks regained the lead when Sharp blasted in a power-play goal at 18:25 of the second period. The Kings fought back one more time. Marian Gaborik tied the game at 4-4 at 12:43 of the third period. The Blackhawks were 2-of-5 on the power play, the Kings were 0-for-2. Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford had 27 saves on 32 shots. Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick stopped 37 of 41.

What it means: The Kings clinched the series and advanced to the Stanley Cup finals for the second time in three seasons. L.A. became the first team in Stanley Cup playoffs history to take three consecutive series by winning a Game 7 on the road. The Blackhawks failed in their attempt to repeat as Stanley Cup champions. The Detroit Red Wings are the last team to accomplish the feat (1996 and 1997). The Kings improved to 7-0 in elimination games in the playoffs this season. The Blackhawks-Kings series was not short of goals. The teams combined for 51 goals over the seven games. Chicago forward Patrick Kane’s two assists in the loss gave him nine points over the past three games. Williams’ goal gave him seven goals in seven career Game 7s.

Player of the game: Gaborik continued to be a difference-maker for the Kings. He scored his third goal of the series and 12th of the playoffs.

Stat of the game: The Kings trailed three different times in the game.

What’s next: The Kings move on to play the New York Rangers in the Stanley Cup finals. Game 1 will be in Los Angeles on Wednesday. The Blackhawks’ season is over.

Hawks battle back again to even series

May, 31, 2014
May 31
1:09
AM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive

 
LOS ANGELES -- The Chicago Blackhawks just won’t go away.

The Los Angeles Kings have tried their best in two consecutive games to put an end to the Blackhawks once and for all. Twice the Kings held third-period leads on the Blackhawks, and twice the Blackhawks overcame them and fought back to win. And with that, the Kings’ 3-1 series lead is no more, and the series will be decided back in Chicago.

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews took a moment after his team’s 4-3 victory in Game 6 on Friday to admire what the Blackhawks have had to do to get back into the series.

“I think we know what kind of character we have in this room, what kind of group,” Toews said of the defending Stanley Cup champions. “I think we’re showing it to each other now. It’s pretty amazing to see. We know our job’s not done yet.”

The Blackhawks have gotten to where they are now by handling a large amount of adversity tossed their way in the past two games.

In Game 5, it was the Kings rallying from a two-goal deficit to take a 4-3 lead. The Blackhawks were down a goal to begin the third period, and Ben Smith scored within the first two minutes to tie the game. After a chaotic overtime, the Blackhawks pulled out a winner in the second extra period.

[+] EnlargeBen Smith, Marian Gaborik, Anze Kopitar
AP Photo/Chris CarlsonBen Smith's second goal in two games gave the Hawks a lead at the second intermission.
In Game 6, the drama continued. The Kings went up 1-0 in the first period. The Blackhawks responded and took a 2-1 lead after two. The Kings answered by scoring two goals in just over two minutes to go ahead 3-2 less than eight minutes into the third.

Panic from the Blackhawks’ fan base could be read all over Twitter, but the players themselves resisted that feeling.

“You've just got to find a way to kind of ride those highs and keep that momentum and when things go against you -- I’ve said this quite a few times -- you forget about those tough moments and just don’t let it affect you too much,” Toews said. “Go out that next shift and keep playing.”

That they did. Duncan Keith took a pass from Patrick Kane in the deep slot and tied the game 3-3. Kane played the role of hero again by scoring the winner with 3 minutes, 45 seconds remaining. Between and after those goals, Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford and his defense held strong to force Game 7 on Sunday night at the United Center.

“That’s the way the team has been all year,” Crawford said. “We don’t give up. We can definitely score goals. I don’t think anyone lost confidence or got down after those two goals they scored in the third. If anything, we kept pressing harder.”

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville never doubted his team’s resilience, but he was still impressed by it.

“Three lead changes in the third period, in a big game like that, it's pretty amazing,” Quenneville said. “But our guys, finding a way, it's a compliment to them. Well, top players. I mean, they want to win. They find ways. They challenge one another. You see certain guys competing like that every shift. I mean, you can't help but follow along and make your contribution.”

W2W4: Blackhawks vs. Kings (Game 6)

May, 30, 2014
May 30
11:43
AM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive


LOS ANGELES -- The Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings face off Friday in Game 6 of the Western Conference finals at Staples Center, with the Kings leading the series 3-2. Here's what to watch for:

• After pulling out a 5-4 double-overtime win in Game 5, the Blackhawks have to win again to keep their season alive. They haven't won in Los Angeles in the series.

*• The Kings haven’t lost in a Game 6 or 7 this season. They defeated the San Jose Sharks in Games 6 and 7 in the opening round and defeated the Anaheim Ducks in Games 6 and 7 in the second round.

• The Blackhawks have been unbeatable in Games 5-7 in playoff series over the last two seasons. They’re 12-0 in those situations, including 5-0 this season.

• The Blackhawks will be looking for goaltender Corey Crawford to pick up where he left off in Game 5. After allowing four goals on 20 shots, Crawford held the Kings goal-less on their last 24 shots.

• Special teams has been a factor in every game. The Blackhawks held the advantage in that area in Game 5. They scored a power-play goal and shut out the Kings on three power plays. For the series, the Blackhawks are 3-of-17 on the power play and the Kings are 5-of-15.

• The Blackhawks’ second line of Brandon Saad, Andrew Shaw and Patrick Kane was dominant in Game 5. Saad had one goal and two assists, Shaw had two assists, and Kane has four assists. The Kings’ line of Jeff Carter, Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson has given the Blackhawks fits throughout the series.

• Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville wouldn’t reveal any lineup changes, but forward Kris Versteeg could sit out again. Versteeg didn’t play the final 50-plus minutes of Game 5 after being on the ice for a goal in the second period.

• Kings forward Marian Gaborik has scored in the last two games after being shut out in the first three games. He leads the NHL with 11 playoff goals this postseason. Teammate Anze Kopitar leads the league with 23 playoff points and has four points in this series.

• Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick's numbers have varied dramatically in wins and losses in the playoffs. He has made 314 saves on 332 shots for a .946 save percentage in 11 playoff wins. He has made 197 saves on 229 shots for .860 save percentage in eight losses.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Patrick Sharp
PTS GOALS AST +/-
6 2 4 -1
OTHER LEADERS
GoalsP. Kane 3
AssistsB. Saad 5
+/-J. Oduya 3
GAAA. Raanta 1.52