Ever since being swept by the Nashville Predators in the first round of the 2016-17 Stanley Cup Playoffs, things have been an absolute nightmare for the Chicago Blackhawks.
We’ll start there. In that series, the Blackhawks were manhandled at every position. They could put the puck past Predators’ netminder Rinne, they lost tons of puck battles, and they actually looked disinterested in winning a hockey game.
Fast forward a season later. Not only did they lose their best player at the time, netminder Corey Crawford, to an injury, but the team never recovered and failed to make the postseason for the first time since the 2007-08 seasons.
This leads us to today. Not only are the Blackhawks the second worst team in the NHL, but Crawford is hurt once again and was placed on injured reserve by the hockey club.
The injury occured on Sunday night’s in his team’s 7-3 loss to the San Jose Sharks. Crawford was injured when teammate Dylan Strome came crashing into him with under two minutes to play in the first period.
For starters, this is not good for this hockey club. After missing the playoffs last season, the team and their fans were hoping for a bounce back year and one that would find them back in the playoffs.
Instead, it has been anything but that. Again, they are the second worst team in the league, they fired their head coach Joel Quenneville, their clearly not playing well under their new head coach Jeremy Colliton, and now Crawford is hurt again.
Secondly, the team was not getting good goaltending to begin with. Prior to getting injured, Crawford was 6-14-2 with a 3.28 goals-against average and a .902 save percentage. Certainly not great numbers for a goaltender who has been really good for this franchise his entire career.
Speaking of goaltending, backup netminder Cam Ward has been terrible this season. As of this writing, Ward is 4-5-4 with a 4.17 goals-against average and a .883 save percentage.
Ward, after spending his first thirteen seasons with the Carolina Hurricanes, has yet to find his footing with his new club. He’s looked uncomfortable between the pipes, is clearly having trouble stopping pucks, and looks like a goaltender that has lost his confidence.
Lastly, and more importantly, this is really unfortunate for Crawford. Crawford missed his team’s first five games this season because he was recovering from a concussion and to now have suffered another one not that long after is terrible.
What’s alarming is that his previous concussion kept him from being on the ice for a long period of time. He clearly had trouble recovering from it and then when he did get back on the ice, he was not able to be on the ice for too long a time due to the way he was feeling.
Last season also wasn’t good for Crawford in terms of injuries. He missed his team’s final 47 games last year due to vertigo-like symptoms, something he had also dealt with during the 2015-16 season.
It’s time for Crawford to focus on his healthy and family. Concussions can have a long lasting impact and for him, family should come first.
For the Blackhawks, their goaltending situation is just like last year, up in the air. The team recalled Collin Delia from Rockford, where he’s been playing well (2.34 goals-against average with a .933 save percentage), but who knows if that will translate to the NHL this season.
The Blackhawks and Crawford are in bad shape folks. Unfortunately for both parties, it does not appear it will get better anytime soon.
*Photo: Chicago Tribune