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updated: 12/22/2013 7:58 PM

Blackhawks' Crawford closer to returning

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  • Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford, seen here in a June file photo, skated before Sunday's practice and coach Joel Quenneville expects the veteran to be back with his teammates following a three-day holiday break this week.

      Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford, seen here in a June file photo, skated before Sunday's practice and coach Joel Quenneville expects the veteran to be back with his teammates following a three-day holiday break this week.
    Associated Press

 
 

The return of Corey Crawford to a net near you is drawing closer and closer.

Crawford skated before Sunday's practice -- his fourth straight day on the ice -- and Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville expects the veteran to be back with his teammates following a three-day holiday break this week.

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"We'll see how he comes in after the break," Quenneville said. "We'll expect him in practice during that next week. We'll get a better assessment.

"He's not that far away, but you need some practice; you need some real pace and shots."

Crawford (17-6-3, 2.47 GAA) was injured against Florida on Dec. 8.

His replacement, Antti Raanta, will be in goal again Monday night, looking to improve on his 7-1-2 mark since being recalled from Rockford.

Feeling good:

In just his second game back after missing a month with a knee injury, Bryan Bickell showed very little rust in the physical department by tying for the team lead with 5 hits in Friday's overtime loss to Vancouver.

"I feel strong with the hitting," he said. "There was more hitting against Vancouver, and I felt comfortable.

"I feel like I was never out for a month."

Rest for the weary:

After a brutal stretch of games, the Hawks are looking forward to a nice three-day break from the rink.

But first things first: New Jersey awaits Monday night.

"We want to leave it all out there," Patrick Sharp said of Monday's matchup with the Devils. "With those days off you want to make sure you have a thought about how you play the last game."

His coach agrees.

"Let's make sure we prioritize the importance of the game, max out and make sure the focus is on the right place," Joel Quenneville said.

And once they return

"We need to step it up," Andrew Shaw said. "There's more in the tank for everybody."

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