Corey Crawford takes 'definitely positive' step with Saturday practice

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford looks on Dec. 16 during a game against the San Jose Sharks in Chicago. He would later leave that game with a concussion, but coach Jeremy Colliton hailed Crawford's practicing Saturday as a sign that he's closer to returning to the ice.

    Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford looks on Dec. 16 during a game against the San Jose Sharks in Chicago. He would later leave that game with a concussion, but coach Jeremy Colliton hailed Crawford's practicing Saturday as a sign that he's closer to returning to the ice. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 2/9/2019 5:38 PM

It wasn't one giant leap.

But the step Corey Crawford took by practicing on Saturday at MB Ice Arena was nonetheless significant as the Blackhawks goalie attempts to return from a concussion he suffered against San Jose on Dec. 16.

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"It's definitely positive," said coach Jeremy Colliton. "He doesn't tell us anything about timeline … but he's closer now than he was before."

Crawford spent about the first 20 minutes of practice on the ice with his teammates. He faced numerous shots during a 2-on-2 drill, then moved to the other side of the ice to work with goaltending coach Jimmy Waite.

Asked what hurdles Crawford must still clear before he returns to game action, Colliton said: "There's a bunch of hurdles. Just how he feels after today is probably a hurdle. But that's the nature of this injury. It's up and down sometimes and you can't explain things. Hopefully he keeps feeling better."

During training camp -- as Crawford was trying to come back from the concussion that kept him out of last season's 47 games -- he worked out almost every day before practice with Waite. He finally joined his teammates for practice Oct. 1, then appeared in his first game Oct. 18.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Colliton, who was forced to retire because of two concussions, has had conversations with Crawford, but remains adamant that he's not pressuring his goaltender to find out every little detail about how he's feeling.

"I try to leave him alone and encourage the others to leave him alone too," Colliton said. "We ask him how he's doing as a human. But I think the last thing he needs is to answer the question how he's feeling 35 times a day. It's not helpful."

Still no call up:

For the time being, the Blackhawks will continue to carry just 12 forwards on the roster. David Kampf is out three to four weeks with a foot injury, and the Hawks have chosen not to call anyone up from Rockford yet.

"We're home right now and Rockford's home," Colliton said. "The guys we would potentially call up -- unless they're going to go right in -- I don't really see the need. We want them playing. We want them to continue to develop so when we are ready to use them they step right in and are fresh off games. ... For now I don't think there's an urgency."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The IceHogs took a six-game winning streak into their game against Tucson on Saturday. Dylan Sikura (13G, 16A overall) has 7 goals and 7 assists in the last 16 games. Luke Johnson has 4 goals and 2 assists in the last six contests.

Jokiharju update:

Henrik Jokiharju, who was assigned to Rockford on Jan. 31, has a goal and an assist in four games with the IceHogs. Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton recently watched a game and is pleased with how the rookie defenseman is doing.

"Reports I got, he's been really good," Colliton said. "I watched one game and he (had) that confidence, that swagger. That's important for an offensive guy like him. Also, he's going to continue to defend better and defend harder … so when he gets back here he can take even more of a role for us."

Jokiharju had no goals and 12 assists in 37 games with the Hawks.

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