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Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Corey Crawford out 3 weeks

By Todd Wills
Special to ESPNChicago.com

DALLAS -- Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford is out for three weeks, coach Joel Quenneville said after Tuesday's morning skate as the team prepared for its game against the Dallas Stars.

Antti Raanta is expected to start Tuesday night for Crawford, who is out with a groin injury suffered in a 6-2 victory against Florida on Sunday.

Quenneville downplayed the seriousness of the injury to Crawford, who didn't make the trip to Dallas.

"After three weeks, it's serious," Quenneville said.

Still, it's a big blow to the Blackhawks, who have 21 wins and are again playing the best hockey in the league. Raanta, who made 29 saves in relief of Crawford on Sunday, is 3-0-1 with a 2.16 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage.

The Blackhawks are also without backup goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin, who has been sidelined since Nov. 17 with a leg injury.

That puts Chicago down to their No. 3 and 4 goaltenders as the Blackhawks start a tough stretch of five games in in eight days, including two back-to-back situations that could call upon Quenneville to go to Kent Simpson, who has been recalled from Rockford.

The defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks, who lead the NHL with 47 points, won't change the way they play with their new goaltending tandem, Quenneville said.

"No, we don't want to change how we're playing," Quenneville said. "We want to make sure we're consistent in how we play in front of them. Certainly we would love to play in the other team's end as much as possible but going into the game we want to make sure it's how we play that's important regardless of what they're doing. We don't want to change."

Raanta is trying to get used to his teammates, including his defensemen and now he has to carry the load as the man for the Blackhawks.

"Now it's up to me with what is happening," Raanta said. "I'm just going to try to do my best. It's pretty weird to think one month ago I was in Rockford and I'm here everybody is putting in the net and that's pretty nice to think."

Simpson put in extra work during the Blackhawks' morning skate on Tuesday morning. He is 6-7 with a 3.38 goals-against average and a .900 save percentage with Rockford this season.

Simpson had a strong training camp, and he said it's something he will rely on.

"This is what you work all summer and your whole life to get this opportunity," Simpson said. "I get to show I can play at this level and show this is where you want to be and where you belong."