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Corey Crawford expected to return Thursday or Friday

Updated: December 30, 2013 10:18PM



Patrick Sharp raced down the left side of the ice, took a pass from Jonathan Toews and rifled a low wrist shot. Corey Crawford fell to his knees and swung his right pad out wide, kicking it aside with ease.

‘‘He’s looking good,’’ Sharp said after Crawford participated in the morning skate Monday, his first
action with the Hawks since suffering a groin injury Dec. 8. ‘‘He stopped me a few times in practice. He’s jumping around in there like he always is.’’

Crawford didn’t dress for the game against the Kings — the 10th consecutive game he missed — but is expected to return Thursday against the Islanders or Friday against the Devils. Not a moment too soon for Crawford, either, because he was getting antsy skating by himself.

‘‘It felt pretty long when I was out,’’ said Crawford, who added he never had an injury this severe. ‘‘I was getting pretty bored there for a bit. It’s nice to be back on the ice with the guys.’’

Another reason Crawford is
eager to play again is that Team Canada must make its Olympic roster decisions by the deadline next Tuesday. The Canucks’ Roberto Luongo and the Canadiens’ Carey Price are viewed as locks, with Crawford, the Coyotes’ Mike Smith and the Wild’s Josh Harding likely competing for the third goalie spot.

Crawford didn’t think his injury cost him a spot just yet.

‘‘I thought I played pretty good [before the injury],’’ he said. ‘‘Is the roster decided yet? There’s still time. They know what I can do.’’

Crawford said the biggest challenge when he returns will be getting his timing back, but the brisk pace and high intensity of the Hawks’ brief practices will help.

He was playing nearly every game before he got hurt, but he likely will have a lighter workload now that Antti Raanta has established himself as an NHL-caliber goalie in his absence. Crawford benefitted greatly from Ray Emery’s stellar play last season, which eased the burden on him before the Hawks’ grueling playoff run.

Not that Crawford necessarily wants the extra rest.

‘‘I like playing,’’ he said with a smirk. ‘‘But it’s a packed schedule and a lot of games in a short amount of time. It definitely helps.’’

Email: mlazerus@suntimes.com

Twitter: @marklazerus



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