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Crawford takes blame for defeat

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM



The bad goals allowed — and overall bad outings — by goalie Corey Crawford have been sparse this season, and the rookie has seized the No. 1 job in the Blackhawks’ net.

But Crawford was ready to take the blame for the Hawks’ 13th loss at the United Center.

“We have a lot of road games coming up,” Crawford said after the Hawks lost to the Minnesota Wild 4-2 on Tuesday. “Getting these points at home was going to be big for us. I didn’t have my best game this year.”

Whether Crawford deserves much of that blame is debatable. What is clear is that playing at the United Center is no longer a big advantage for the Hawks.

The season has reached the All-Star break, and the Hawks have played 29 games at home, the most in the NHL. They’re only 16-13 — a record that got worse after back-to-back losses to the Philadelphia Flyers and Wild.

Last regular season, the Hawks lost only 12 times at home, including four overtime or shootout losses. Figuring out the reasons for the humbling turnaround has baffled the Hawks.

“You can look at it different ways and a variety of ways for the reason [for the 13 defeats],” coach Joel Quenneville said.

One positive is that the Hawks are 4-0 if a game extends to overtime or a shootout at the UC. But getting there is another issue, seeing that the Hawks have six one-goal losses in regulation at home.

Last season, the Hawks outscored opponents 134-98 and allowed just 14 power-play goals in 41 home games. In 29 games this season, the Hawks have only outscored opponents 88-78 and have yielded 20 power-play goals.

January was supposed to be a favorable month for the Hawks with seven of their 11 games at the UC. But they managed to go only 4-3 in those home games.

“It’s too bad we couldn’t come up with points in the two last games at home,” captain Jonathan Toews said. “It had to be the most favorable month of the year so far. We played some good hockey. But it’s not going to get any easier.”

Changes on defense

A surprise move Tuesday was Quenneville’s decision to put in defenseman Nick Boynton instead of Jordan Hendry and pair him with rookie Nick Leddy.

Boynton’s last game was Dec. 30.

“[Boynton] hadn’t played in a while, and we were looking forward to see what that pair would look like,’’ Quenneville said. ‘‘I thought Nick was all right. Nick Leddy, as well, got better as the game went on. He showed good speed and patience with the puck, particularly in the third.”

Leddy was assigned to Rockford on Wednesday. It was a cost-saving salary-cap move, and he should be recalled after the All-Star break.

Time to heal

Despite having all the All-Star festivities this weekend, Toews said he’ll have enough time to recover from the lower-body injury that kept him out of practice Monday and the morning skate Tuesday.

“I felt pretty good [against the Wild],’’ Toews said. “It’s a long week. I’ll take care of all those little things that have been nagging. I don’t know if there are any issues [at the All-Star Game].”

Saskatoon?

The Hawks announced Wednesday that they will play the Edmonton Oilers in a preseason game Sept. 20 in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

It is the second consecutive year the Hawks will have preseason game at a neutral site in Canada. They opened the 2010 preseason against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Winnipeg.



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