Corey Crawford made his first appearance at the United Center in weeks on Monday night — a welcome sight for the struggling Blackhawks.
“It’s great to see him,” Patrick Kane said. “He’s been injured for a little bit and it was nice to see him around and talk to him a little bit and see his face again. … We feel he’s the best in the league, and we’ll welcome him back when he’s ready.”
That time could be coming. Crawford, who sources said has been dealing with vertigo-like symptoms from a possible head injury, worked out on Tuesday at the United Center, his second straight day in the gym. The next step will be for him to get back on the ice, and Joel Quenneville sounded optimistic that it could happen soon.
“Yeah, I think he is getting closer,” Quenneville said after Tuesday’s practice. “He was in again today, had a good workout, feeling much better. When we get him on the ice soon here, hopefully, then we’ll get a better assessment.”
He hasn’t played since being pulled against the Devils on Dec. 23, but Crawford is tied with Tampa Bay’s Andrei Vasilevskiy (who blanked the Hawks with a 40-save shutout on Monday) for the best save percentage among No. 1 goaltenders in the league, a sparkling .929. He went 16-9-2. Jeff Glass (who will start Wednesday against Toronto) and Anton Forsberg are a combined 6-9-4 with a .907 save percentage.
The question the Hawks will face is do they risk rushing Crawford back too soon to salvage a playoff push, or do they think the season is already lost and that it’s better to let Glass and Forsberg play out the string? Much of that will depend on where the Hawks are in the standings if and when Crawford is actually ready to play. He hasn’t even skated yet, so his return is not exactly imminent.
If they’re still in the mix, though, the Hawks certainly have a much better chance of making a miracle run with Crawford than they do without him.
“It was great to see him,” Ryan Hartman said. “It’s been a little while. He looked good, he looked still in shape. So it was good to see him. I know a lot of guys missed him. He’s a key part of our locker room, so it was good to see him [Monday].”
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