Blackhawks' Crawford back on ice, but fans shouldn't get hopes up
First, the good news: Corey Crawford was on the ice at MB Ice Arena before practice Saturday.
Now for the bad -- and obvious news -- the 16-24-9 Hawks have the fewest points in the NHL and even if Crawford eventually returned from his latest concussion, it's not about to turn their fortunes around.
"Positive that he was out there," said coach Jeremy Colliton, "but I'm not sure it means a ton. Hopefully he continues to feel better."
Crawford was injured late in the first period during a 7-3 loss to San Jose on Dec. 16 after a violent collision with Dylan Strome. The impact drove Crawford's head into one of the goal posts.
The 34-year-old netminder spent about 30 minutes on the ice Saturday, doing drills with goalie coach Jimmy Waite. Cam Ward and Collin Delia joined Crawford, and the three did a rotation facing short-range shots from John Hayden, Dominik Kahun and David Kampf.
Colliton hadn't talked to Crawford and had no timetable for when his goalie would be able to return to the ice. Crawford did not speak to the media.
Just like last year -- when Crawford missed the season's final 47 games with a concussion -- his teammates were happy to see him but also concerned for his long-term well-being.
"It's good," said Jonathan Toews. "You always want to see at least some progress, especially (after) what he went through last year. … Nice to see him taking steps forward and hopefully he can be back in the room with the boys soon enough."
Said Ward: "I'm sure that it's taxing on him as a guy that has been through it all before. Everybody in here is concerned for him as a teammate and as a friend.
"Your health is your most important thing in life and obviously we want him to feel better personally before he gets back and playing the game that he loves."
Crawford has appeared in 23 games this season. He is 6-14-2 with a .902 save percentage and 3.28 goals-against average. Those would be the worst numbers of his career.
Some of that can be attributed to the poor defensive play in front of Crawford, but he also didn't look nearly as sharp as previous seasons.
Ward, who has had one concussion during his career, knows a bit of what Crawford's going through.
"Mine I went through some dizziness and whatnot," Ward said. "It's definitely not a good injury in the fact that you just never know when you're going to turn that corner.
"I'm sure that's what he's fighting with every day."
After the Hawks host Washington on Sunday morning, they should practice Monday before hosting the Islanders on Tuesday. After that comes a nine-day break before they play at Buffalo on Feb. 1.
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Scouting reportBlackhawks vs. Washington Capitals, 11:30 a.m. at United Center
Radio: WGN 720-AM
The skinny: The defending champs have scored just 4 goals during their current four-game losing streak, but are still 27-15-5 overall. ... Washington has allowed 1 power-play goal in six of the last 10 games. The Hawks, meanwhile, have at least 1 PP goal in seven straight. ... The Capitals' power play is 7-for-58 (12 percent) over the last 21 games. ... Alex Ovechkin leads the league with 33 goals and is connecting on a career-best 17.7 percent of his shots. He is in a bit of a rut lately, though, scoring just four times in the last 15 contests. ... D-man John Carlson has 90 assists since the beginning of last season, with 46 coming on the PP. ... Washington jumped out to a 3-0 lead and beat the Hawks 4-2 on Nov. 21. Former Hawks D-man Michal Kempny (5G, 10A, plus-23) scored his first goal of the season that night.
Next: New York Islanders, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at United Center
-- John Dietz