The Chicago Blackhawks will have an important name on the lineup card tonight, as Corey Crawford will make his first start since mid-December. Crawford was activated from injured reserve yesterday while Collin Delia was returned to the minor leagues on Monday in time to retain AHL playoff eligibility.
Crawford, 34, started 23 games for the Blackhawks after returning from a long concussion-related absence and posted a .902 save percentage. That number was trending upwards when he suffered another concussion on December 16th when a player collided with him. Crawford’s head impacted the post of his net and given his history with head injuries he was immediately removed for testing.
The fact that Crawford is returning at all this season is almost miraculous, but given the current state of the Blackhawks it couldn’t come at a better time. Despite sitting in last place in the Central Division the Blackhawks are still just six points behind the Dallas Stars for the final Western Conference wild card spot. If the team is to have any hope of snatching that final playoff position, Crawford will have to be at his best.
The team has been carried by an outstanding season by Patrick Kane and the immediate chemistry between Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Strome, but need better goaltending to really compete in the playoff picture. While Delia made an admirable debut and showed he may have a future in Chicago, the team has a combined .894 save percentage on the season, tied for 29th in the league.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images