Blackhawks' Crawford says he's ready, but his return is on hold

 
 
Updated 2/16/2019 8:27 AM
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  • Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford said Friday he's ready to play if called on Saturday, but coach Jeremy Colliton says that's not going to happen.

      Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford said Friday he's ready to play if called on Saturday, but coach Jeremy Colliton says that's not going to happen. John Starks | Staff Photographer

Corey Crawford is ready to return.

As in Saturday against the Blue Jackets if Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton were to call his name.

"I'm healthy to play right now," Crawford said after the Hawks practiced in front of 8,000 students at the United Center Friday. "Really it's whether they think I'm ready to get in the net."

Well, no shock here, but that will not be against Columbus.

Crawford said that while he could play, he's still working on getting his timing back and that it may take a few more practices before he feels 100 percent sharp.

This was Crawford's third full participation with the team (two practices and one morning skate) since suffering a concussion against San Jose Dec. 16. The Hawks, winners of eight of nine, have been getting stellar goaltending from Cam Ward and Collin Delia, throwing a bit of a wrinkle in when Crawford may be called upon.

"We've been playing great," Crawford said. "I think that's a tough situation, too. Obviously you don't want to come back in and (not) be at the top of my game. But we're in a pretty good run right now. …

"It's really thinking about what game do you throw me in? I'll leave that up to Jeremy."

After confirming Crawford will not start against Columbus, Colliton was asked if he worries about messing with the momentum the Hawks have built up.

"No. I don't worry about it," he said. "It's a great problem to have, if you can call it a problem. It's all positive."

Colliton provided no guidance as for how he'll decide when to reinsert Crawford.

"We'll discuss it (among) the staff and we'll let you know," Colliton said.

One thing Crawford knows is he wants to be a part of his team's resurgence -- one that has them on the brink of a wild-card berth. The Hawks (24-25-9) are just 3 points behind Minnesota, which holds the final spot in the West and lost to New Jersey in overtime Friday. They are also 2 points behind Vancouver and tied with Colorado.

"Sitting on the sides -- whether the team's winning or losing -- it's never fun to watch on TV, or to watch here in the locker room," Crawford said. "Either way it's tough. You just want to get out there and play again.

"Like I said, I'm going to try and be ready for whenever I get back in."

Scoring race:

Patrick Kane, who is riding a 16-game point streak, had a goal and 2 assists against New Jersey Thursday to increase his season point total to 85. He's behind only Tampa Bay's Nikita Kucherov (92), who has 11 in the Lightning's last three games.

"Yeah, I just saw that he had four tonight (against Dallas)," said a smiling Kane after the Hawks' win over the Devils. "You think you have three you're going to maybe cut down the lead a little bit, and he has four."

Kane is on pace for 120 points, which would blow away his career high of 106, set in 2015-16.

Math and hockey:

The Hawks allowed 8,000 students -- mostly from the Chicago Public Schools -- to attend practice at the United Center Friday. All of them participated in the Future Goals -- Hockey Scholar computer program, and used their math skills in three challenges:

• Speed: They measured distance and time to figure out who was the fastest skater.

• Energy: They saw how the flex of a hockey stick affected the speed of a shot.

• Angles: They saw how use of angles determine how players should pass a puck off the boards.

Drake Caggiula, Dylan Strome, Erik Gustafsson, Dominik Kahun, Connor Murphy and John Hayden demonstrated during the hourlong bonus portion of practice.

Slap shots:

Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Cam Ward did not participate in practice. … When Brandon Saad scored short-handed in the third period of the Hawks' 5-2 win over New Jersey, it was his 19th goal of the season, surpassing the 18 he had in 2017-18. … Duncan Keith has 3 goals in the last 15 games. He had just 2 in the previous 135.

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