DENVER — For as long as the Blackhawks have a shred of a chance in the wild-card race, Corey Crawford will be their man in net.
Crawford has been excellent since getting through some turbulence early in his comeback from a concussion, and coach Jeremy Colliton indicated he will play him as much as he can handle.
‘‘We’ll make sure we’re on top of it, communicating with him,’’ Colliton said. ‘‘We’re in a pretty important time, so if he’s feeling good and fresh, he’ll likely play.’’
That means even in back-to-backs, and Crawford said he will be ready to go Sunday against the Avalanche. The only time he has done that this season was in early December.
‘‘We’ve got to win,’’ he said.
Crawford gave up six goals to the Kings last month in his second game back, but he has been lights-out since. He stopped 21 of 24 shots against the Avalanche — two of the goals came on deflections — and has a .938 save percentage and a 1.88 goals against average in his last eight games.
Backup Cam Ward is back to full strength after suffering a knee injury three weeks ago but hasn’t played.
‘‘I think he’d do a pretty good job for us,’’ Colliton said of Ward. ‘‘We just — Crow is Crow, and he’s been great for us.’’
With eight games in 14 days to close the regular season, the Hawks will have few or no practices. So Colliton hopes everything he has been hammering the last few months will stick.
‘‘It’s like when you’re studying for a test,’’ he said before the game Saturday. ‘‘You study, you study, you study, then at some point you take the test. So here we are.’’
This final exam will be harder than most. If the Hawks somehow come out of their West Coast excursion still in the wild-card hunt, they’ll have to power through a brutal final week against the Jets, Blues, Stars and Predators.
Teams typically don’t practice after a back-to-back, and Colliton tends to give players the day off after traveling. That leaves morning skates on game days as likely his only on-ice time with the team.
‘‘Some days it’s hard for them to get out there and get your body revved up when you’re playing so many games, as they are,’’ he said. ‘‘This time of year, we don’t practice much because we’ve got to save it for the games.’’