You couldn’t blame Anton Forsberg for being bitter, for being angry, for wishing bad things on the guy who took his job just one game after he got it. You’d understand if he was muttering under his breath while perched on the little stool in the back corner of the Blackhawks bench area.
But that’s not how most goaltenders are wired. A win for anyone is a win for everyone.
Besides, who can be mad at Jeff Glass, whom Patrick Kane called the “nicest guy in the world”?
“Just his story and everything, it makes it so easy to be happy for him,” Forsberg said.
That’s not to say Forsberg has gotten complacent. Or that he’s not disappointed that his tenure as the Hawks’ No. 1 goalie in Corey Crawford’s indefinite absence lasted one measly game. But Forsberg knows he has nobody to blame but himself.
“I gave up five goals [in Vancouver],” he said. “Letting in five goals is never fun. Then to sit around for a couple games and just practice, it’s tough sometimes. [Glass] played really well, and you always play the hot goalie. But really, it’s all up to you. If he’s playing well, I’ve got to play better. It’s as simple as that.”
Well, Forsberg will get his chance to take the net back Sunday afternoon against the Edmonton Oilers. With Glass coming back down to earth a bit in Friday’s 5-4 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights, Forsberg will get the start.
He won’t be hurting for motivation. Besides trying to reclaim the interim No. 1 tag (and the backup job when Crawford eventually returns), Forsberg desperately wants to start piling up some wins. In 22 career appearances (18 starts), he has just two victories. This year alone, he’s 1-5-3 in nine starts, with a subpar .902 save percentage.
But Forsberg is being careful not to put too much pressure on himself. If he thinks his whole season depends on this one outing, it could have a deleterious effect.
“I don’t think it’s different from any other game,” he said. “I want to get wins and I want to play well. It doesn’t matter if Corey’s here or [Glass] is here —I want to play. And I’ve got to play good to be able to get to play. In that way, there’s no difference.”
The Hawks haven’t given Forsberg much help in his games — they’re averaging just 2.1 goals during games in which he starts, including two or fewer in each of his last five starts —but, really, they weren’t giving Glass much help, either. Glass faced 45 shots in Edmonton, 39 in Calgary, and 43 against Vegas. While coach Joel Quenneville was justifiably upset with his defensemen in the Vegas game, it falls on the whole team to make life easier on the goaltender.
And the way they see it, the best defense is a good offense
“Speaking on my line’s behalf, there’s a lot of chances around the net, but it’s just one shot maybe from the outside and not a whole lot of sustained puck time,” said Patrick Sharp, who has scored in two straight games. “When you don’t have it, you’re chasing it, and it always ends up in your zone, [where] we’re counting on our goalie to make big saves. [It’s about] hanging on to the puck, making better players, better puck recognition.”
After Sunday’s game, Forsberg and Glass are likely to split the next two games because they’re back-to-back (Tuesday on the road against the Senators, Wednesday at home against the Wild). But if Forsberg can string together a couple of good games in a row — maybe even some actual victories — he could be the guy moving forward.
After all, as Quenneville noted, that was the plan all along.
“[Glass] took the ball and ran with it,” Quenneville said. “Everyone wants to play more, particularly in net. When you get an opportunity, you have to take advantage of it.”
NOTE: Ryan Hartman (upper body) will play Sunday.
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