Chicago Blackhawks Vs Toronto Maple Leafs 3rd-Period Action. Chicago Blackhawks goaltender No.50 Corey Crawford congratulates his teammate goaltender No.30 Ray Emery after the Blackhawks come from behind victory 5-4 over the Toronto Maple Leafs. February 29, 2012 I Scott Stewart~Sun-Times
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Updated: May 13, 2013 6:51AM
Corey Crawford will return to the Blackhawks’ goal Friday against the Detroit Red Wings for the first time in eight days, and he’s eager to finally get back out there. Not because he feels he has lost his spot as the Hawks’ No. 1 goalie, and not because he feels he needs to keep pace with Ray Emery, who has three shutouts in his last five starts.
“I just want to play because it’s fun to play,” Crawford said. “I enjoy playing.”
The Hawks downplayed any notion of a goaltender controversy Thursday and played up the pleasant “problem” of having two guys playing at an elite level.
“These guys, they want to be the guy,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “But at the same time, they know when they’re not the guy, it’s all about the team.”
While Quenneville faces a potentially difficult decision for the playoffs, Crawford was a pretty easy choice for Friday. Besides the fact that his last start was eight long days ago, April 4 against the St. Louis Blues — a 4-3 shootout loss — Crawford has owned the Red Wings. He’s 10-2-2 lifetime against them, with a 1.82 goals-against average and .944 save percentage. The Hawks have won six in a row against their hated rivals, with Crawford starting five of them. This season, he has allowed only one goal in each of his three starts against Detroit, stopping 94 of 97 shots.
The question is, is Crawford still auditioning for the top spot in May and June? Crawford shrugged it off, saying the competition has benefitted both players and that neither is concerned or hurting for confidence with less than three weeks to go before the playoffs begin.
“We feed off each other,” he said. “We have a great relationship off the ice. We’re definitely pushing each other to be at our best, and so far, it’s been great for both of us, and the team’s winning. . . . Ray’s been playing great. It’s a team game, and we want to win. There’s definitely nothing wrong when the team’s winning. I’ve just got to work hard and be prepared when I get the call.”
Quenneville has said that he’d like to have one goalie establish himself as the No. 1 in time for the playoffs. But the idea of a postseason platoon hasn’t been taken off the table just yet.
“In the past, a lot of times those decisions were made for you — it’s clear who’s going to be the guy,” Quenneville said. “This year, I can honestly say both guys definitely get strong consideration based on performance. We’ll see how it goes. Without showing our hand, if both guys continue to do what they’re doing, we’ll be in a real nice situation.”
Quenneville will have to decide on a course of action sooner rather than later, not that he’ll make that decision public any time soon — “You got that right,” he said with a smile. In the meantime, Crawford and Emery keep saying all the right things off the ice and keep playing well on the ice.
“We’ve done a great job of it this year,” Crawford said of continuing the platoon in the playoffs. “Who knows? But the whole year we’ve gone game by game, and we haven’t gotten ahead of ourselves. So why do that now?”
NOTE: Hawks center Dave Bolland was back on the ice for Thursday’s practice at Johnny’s IceHouse West, but he won’t be in the lineup Friday. Quenneville said he hoped Bolland could be back for Sunday’s game at St. Louis.
Bolland took a slap shot from Nashville Predators defenseman Shea Weber off the lower leg April 1. He returned the next game and reaggravated the injury.
“It was about a 102-mph shot, goes by pretty quick,” Bolland said. “Just aggravated it again. Things like that are always a pain in the butt. You feel like you’re ready, and then it sort of aggravates it a little bit.”