The goaltending position will get a little stronger today, as three top options return to their respective teams. Matt Murray and Frederik Andersen will both be back in the net as the Pittsburgh Penguins and Toronto Maple Leafs face off, while Jonathan Quick has been activated in Los Angeles. Still, the biggest news of the day lies in Chicago. Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford will make his first start since December 23, 2017 when he takes on the Arizona Coyotes at home. Luke Johnson has been sent to the minor leagues by the Blackhawks in order to activate Crawford to the roster.
Getting Crawford back is a huge step for the Blackhawks, who have looked unlike their championship selves since their starting goaltender went down. The veteran netminder was dealing with a concussion and related symptoms for months, but appeared in training camp hopeful he could return to action quickly this season. That’s about to happen, and it will be an exciting moment for teammates and fans alike. Crawford holds a career .919 save percentage and actually was in the midst of one of the best seasons of his career when he suffered the injury. The team has not received quality goaltending from Cam Ward after signing him this offseason to a one-year, $3MM deal, and may end up waiving Anton Forsberg if Crawford can re-take ownership of the net.
For Toronto getting Andersen back is extremely important, given the lack of goaltending depth they suddenly find themselves with. Kasimir Kaskisuo, the default third stringer since Curtis McElhinney and Calvin Pickard were claimed off waivers, suffered a serious injury recently with the Toronto Marlies and will be out for a fair amount of time, while minor league backup Jeff Glass is on an AHL deal. That meant young Eamon McAdam was the backup recently and just one more injury from being the stater for the Maple Leafs.
Quick and Murray both represent returns to normalcy for their respective teams, but both of their replacements did well in their absence. Jack Campbell in Los Angeles posted a .922 save percentage in his five games, while Casey DeSmith did the same in his three starts for Pittsburgh. There’s no reason to think Quick or Murray will suffer another injury quickly, but if they do the team at least knows there are capable backups behind them.