Blackhawks’ Corey Crawford continues to show progress, takes shots from Forsling

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Chicago Blackhawks’ Corey Crawford guards the net during an NHL hockey game against the Philadelphia Flyers, in Philadelphia .For all the talk about Corey Crawford and the aging core of the Chicago Blackhawks, coach Joel Quenneville delivered a simple message as the team got back together for the start of a season that could have a dramatic impact on the direction of the franchise. Bring it, all the time. | Matt Slocum/Associated Press

Goalie Cam Ward needed one word to describe his United Center debut as a Blackhawk: “Embarrassing.”

After letting the Red Wings score two goals on their first two shots on goal, Ward gave up six goals total and posted a .647 save percentage before being replaced by Anton Forsberg for the third period.

And Forsberg didn’t do much better. He gave up a short-handed goal on the first shot he faced.

After the Hawks’ 8-6 preseason loss to the Red Wings, Ward didn’t want to dwell on what happened.

“You don’t want to overanalyze or overthink it,” Ward said. “Unfortunately, games like this sometimes happen, but it doesn’t count, and I don’t want it to ruin my training camp.”

But if the loss showed anything, it’s that the Hawks desperately need goalieCorey Crawford to get healthy.

Although the timetable for Crawford’s return is still unknown, he took another step in his recovery.

For the first time since February, Crawford faced shots from a teammate. Granted, it was defenseman Gustav Forsling, who is expected to be out until November after undergoing wrist surgery this summer, taking the shots, but it’s still progress.

Coach Joel Quenneville said Crawford’s practice was “another good day.”

Crawford, who still has lingering symptoms from a concussion he suffered last season, has been working out on the ice with goaltending coach Jimmy Waite before team practices for the last week and a half. He has been deflecting low-velocity shots from Waite and working on movement in the crease. Crawford hasn’t experienced contact or many shots above his waist.

Quenneville said Crawford has continued to show improvement, and earlier this week, he hinted that he might join the team for a practice this weekend. If that’s the case, it would be the first time Crawford has practiced with the Hawks since a morning skate in Arizona on Feb. 13.

Quenneville said it “might be stretching it” to expect Crawford to be ready for the Hawks’ season opener Oct. 4 against the Senators, which means the Hawks likely will have to rely on Ward, whom they signed to a one-year, $3 million deal this offseason.

At the start of training camp, Crawford was uncertain about when he’d be ready to return, but he said he was “really close” to being cleared.

Before he was put on injured reserve in December last season, Crawford had a .929 save percentage, second-best in the NHL at the time.

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Kahun shines

Forward Dominik Kahun has risen to every challenge this preseason for the Hawks, and captain Jonathan Toews has taken notice.

As of late, Kahun has been skating on the top line with Toews and right wing Alex DeBrincat. The three have seemingly built up chemistry, and in the first period, Kahun swatted a flying puck off Toews’ stick for his second goal (and fourth point) of the preseason.

“I still don’t even know how it went into the net,” Toews said after the game.

Kahun, who was one of Germany’s heroes in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, has made it clear to the Hawks that he plans to exercise his European assignment clause if he doesn’t make the opening-night roster.

But that might not be necessary after his strong performances in the preseason.

“[Christian Ehrhoff] said that he’s a great player and deserves to play in the NHL,” Toews said. “I think we saw proof of that tonight.”

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