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Corey Crawford out with off-ice injury; Raanta steps in

Goalie Corey Crawford will miss the Blackhawks’ return to home ice because of a lower-body injury. And while winger Patrick Sharp skated with his teammates Tuesday, he isn’t ready to return from an apparent right-knee injury that has sidelined him for 11 games.

And yet, when the Hawks play host to St. Louis in their first game at the United Center since Nov. 16, they won’t be singing the Blues.

Coming off a 5-1 circus road trip, coach Joel Quenneville will plug backup Antti Raanta into the net — and expect the Hawks’ skaters to keep rolling along, especially the line of Patrick Kane, Brad Richards and Kris Versteeg.

“We played the way we wanted to,’’ Versteeg said of the trip. “We hadn’t really played a full 60 minutes until this road trip.’’

Quenneville liked the consistency he saw as the Hawks continued to climb in the Western Conference standings.

“Everyone had something different to bring to the table,’’ Quenneville said. “That consistency was something we were looking for going into the trip. We came out of it excited about what we have. When we play the right way, good things happen.’’

Quenneville wasn’t able to disclose Crawford’s status until the team’s medical staff completed its evaluation. Crawford’s injury took place off the ice, said Quenneville, who did not provide details.
Raanta, who hasn’t played since Oct. 25, has stayed sharp, Quenneville said.

“That’s all part of it with goalies,’’ Quenneville said. “You’re sitting on the bench, and all of a sudden you’re in there. It’s an unpredictable job. I’m sure he’s excited to get back in, to get a chance to play.’’

Sharp, who has been working out alone in Chicago, was excited to be back with his teammates. Even his family left town for Thanksgiving, expecting that he would’ve been on the road with the Hawks.

“Yeah, it’s just nice to see everybody,’’ Sharp said. “I’ve been here the last two weeks by myself, talking to myself, talking to the trainer. It was pretty lonely. My family left the day the team left to go back to Connecticut for Thanksgiving because they were unsure where I was going to be. I was supposed to be on that road trip. It was a long couple of weeks.’’

Sharp — who only participated in light drills, not the full practice — said he doesn’t have an exact return date in mind.

“Just taking it day-to-day,’’ he said. “It’s going pretty good. Everything feels solid. Feels nice to be out there, catching and receiving passes, skating on a line with the players. It’s all about timing at this point.’’

Considering how well the Hawks have been doing without Sharp, the upside with him is a very encouraging prospect.

“We all know what he does out there,’’ Kane said. “He’s got a great shot. He’s a great skater. He scores goals. When you add anyone like that to a lineup, it’s only going to improve. When he’s ready, we’ll welcome him back with open arms. He’ll fit right in with whoever he’s playing with at the time. We’ll be happy to have him.’’