The Chicago Blackhawks have not fared well this season and their struggle continued on this week. The team was shutout a week ago against the Detroit Red Wings and returned from the bye week yesterday, only to be knocked down by the New York Islanders in a seven to three loss. The team has now dropped four of their last eight games and, as a result, has fallen to last place in the Central Division. Among those games have been key points against division rivals that the Hawks needed to pick up. In order to make it into playoffs, they’ll need something along the lines of a miracle to happen. Unfortunately for them, that miracle’s name likely won’t be Corey Crawford.
The Hawks have been missing their main goaltender for several games now and he is not expected to return back anytime soon. Reports surfaced this week that Crawford was suffering from post-concussion issues and vertigo. He has been working out very minimally and not spent time on the ice since his last game. The team’s doctors have been keeping an eye on his progress, but everything is being taken very slowly. Earlier reports hinted that Crawford’s career could be over given his symptoms, but luckily for the Hawks, that is not true. Though it will take some time and patience before the Hawks get their star back, he will eventually return this season after being given the green light to get back on the ice.
Not knowing when Crawford will return puts a big problem into the coaching staff’s hands. They’ll have to continue juggling between Anton Forsberg and Jeff Glass, hoping that the two can help pull the team to some wins. When Crawford was in net earlier in the season, the team relied heavily on him to help them get to victories. Though he was not able to help them win every time, he was a big part of why the Hawks earned some of the points that they maybe did not deserve to win. Since Crawford’s absence, that mentality has still not changed. The Hawks continue to rely heavily on their goaltending to do a phenomenal job, despite having spotty defense in front of them, so Forsberg and Glass have their work cut out for them.
There is no huge definition between Forsberg and Glass, so it is likely that the team will switch them up and then ride one goaltender when he has the hot hand. While Glass tends to appear more confident and has posted better numbers than Forsberg, he is still new to the NHL and lacks experience. Forsberg, meanwhile, has the experience, but has faltered in games, such as the most recent one against the Islanders. Both have posted some very noticeable save sequences and tried to keep the team steady in Crawford’s absence, but they still have yet to do anything phenomenal that really sets them apart. If one goalie happens to do something that really catches the eye of the coaching staff, then they may get more starts, but until then, it is likely that each will just get to start depending on how they previously played and what the coaches think is the best matchup for that night.
What remains now is for the Hawks to play their best and to try to get into a better position for Crawford’s return. At this time, they plan to leave him off of injured reserve, since they do not know when he will be able to return to the ice. However, they will need to be sure to not rush things as previously happened earlier in the season. Crawford’s symptoms could worsen should he get back on the ice too early and result in something career ending. With the rebuilding stage that the Hawks are already in, the last thing they need is a top-notch goalie leaving the organization and putting them in a scramble to replace him.