There was never any doubt in coach Joel Quenneville's mind that Corey Crawford would be the starting goalie Monday in the first game out of the Christmas break.
Crawford still is the Blackhawks' No. 1 goalie despite Ray Emery's strong play before Christmas. Crawford also was coming off Wednesday's win over Montreal in his first game in more than two weeks.
"He's coming off a great game and it was only a matter of time we get him back in the net," Quenneville said. "We have a lot of confidence in his ability, and he earned the back-to-back starts based on his last game. We want him playing."
With a busy week ahead it's almost certain Emery will start one of the games on this homestand, but the Hawks need Crawford back in top form as well.
"Both goalies have played well all year," Quenneville said. "Ray had a chance to keep the net for a while and did a good job, but we still want Corey playing. The fact Ray can play at any moment and give us strong goaltending, it's a good situation.
"We had a lot of confidence in Corey to start the season, and that hasn't changed at all. Ray, all of a sudden, gave us something to think about, but we want Corey playing."
Crawford's only focus is in continuing to play well.
"I'm just taking it shot by shot and going from there," he said.
Easy does it:
Daniel Carcillo returned to practice Monday but still missed his fifth straight game with an upper- body injury.
"He's been off the ice for 10 days," Joel Quenneville said.
Carcillo should be back in the lineup at some point this week.
"I don't feel too good right now, but once my lungs stop burning I'll feel a little better," joked Carcillo.
Carcillo didn't want to discuss how he got hurt during the Dec. 14 game at Minnesota when it appeared he took a forearm to the head from Kyle Brodziak, who was not penalized.
"You're injured, you're injured and out of the lineup, it doesn't really matter what it is," Carcillo said. "I'm not going to comment on the injury."
Marcus Kruger got the medical OK to play after missing last Wednesday's game with a concussion.
Brandon Pirri was recalled from Rockford to take Kruger's spot on the second line while Kruger skated on the fourth line.
Kruger suffered a concussion last Tuesday when he was clocked high by Pittsburgh's Deryk Engelland, who received a three-game suspension from the NHL.
Kruger was OK with the three games Engelland got.
"I think we respect the league's suspension, but we'll both move on now," Kruger said. "I felt better pretty quickly."
Patrick Sharp turns 30 years old Tuesday.
"It's funny. Kruges, Toews and Kane, they think turning 30 is like I'm going to be (Sean) O'Donnell around here," Sharp said.