Is Crawford Set to Get Back Between the Pipes for the Blackhawks?

The Chicago Blackhawks are on a serious roll right now. After beating the Detroit Red Wings in overtime on Wednesday, February 20, the team has won 10 of their last 12 games and is now tied with the Colorado Avalanche for the second Wild Card spot in the Western Conference. Both teams have 61 points, which is amazing considering the great start the Avalanche got off to and the horrendous start that the Blackhawks got off to. To put things in perspective, the Blackhawks were in last place in the entire National Hockey League on January 31. Fast forward to now and making the playoffs has become a very real possibility for this hockey club. Believe it or not, things could even get better for the Blackhawks in the very near future. It was reported by several Chicago sports outlets that netminder Corey Crawford feels ready and healthy to get back between the pipes. With that said, however, the team has not committed to a date as for when he will get to start a game. In fact, it’s turned into a quite confusing situation for all involved. In a piece by Blackhawks’ scribe Mark Lazerus of The Athletic (subscription required), Lazerus reported that Crawford traveled with the team to Detroit for their game against the Red Wings on February 20. While the team’s head coach, Jeremy Colliton said it was definitely a nice thing to have Crawford travel with the club, he mentioned that he still needs to be medically cleared to play.

“Just the fact that he was able to practice with us was another chance to get him out there and get him a little extra work, too,” Colliton said. “Good to see him. … When he’s cleared, then we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. Until I get the go-ahead, I’m just worrying about the guys that are healthy.”

I am not quite sure why Colliton is beating around the bush here. If I were him, I would want Crawford back between the pipes sooner rather than later. While 24-year-old- masked man Collin Delia has played decent enough (as of February 21, he is 6-3-3 with a 3.43 goals-against average and a .912 save percentage) for this team, no one is quite sure how he will play when the pressure gets turned up. Right now, there really is not much pressure on this club because of how badly their season began. Crawford means a lot to this team and can provide so much to this club when he is healthy and gets the support he needs on the ice. For starters, he’s able to make timely saves and not only that, just does a great job of stopping the puck in general. Secondly, when he’s right physically, he’s consistent. You know that out of Crawford, you are going to get someone who battles every night, posts good numbers each season (when fully healthy), and be a factor in many games. Lastly, it is clear that with Crawford between the pipes, the Blackhawks are a much different team. They play with more confidence, they know they have a goalie behind them who will keep them in the game, and they also know that with their main man between the pipes, they have an opportunity to win every night. If Colliton can get Crawford back in net sooner rather than later, there is no reason to believe that he would not play well and that he would not be a huge factor should this team get into the playoffs.

*Photo: NBC Sports Chicago

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