Blackhawks at flames
The facts: 8:30, CSN, 720-AM.
Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM
CALGARY, Alberta — These are desperate times for the Blackhawks. But rookie goalie Corey Crawford isn’t going to put any extra pressure on himself.
“The standings have been tight all year,” Crawford said.
“It’s definitely getting down to crunch time. But we can’t throw these [last] 30 games into one game. We’re not going to make the playoffs just by [tonight].”
It was Crawford’s steady play that re-energized the once-stagnant Hawks earlier this season. And coach Joel Quenneville would like to see both Crawford and Marty Turco playing well right now. But Quenneville likely will turn to one of them down the stretch as he did with Antti Niemi last season.
Crawford gets an opportunity tonight, when he will start against the Calgary Flames at the Scotiabank Saddledome — his first game in almost two weeks because of the All-Star break. Turco played well the last two games, but Quenne-ville said Crawford also deserves a chance to play.
“It does [feel like a long time since I’ve played], but you can’t use that as an excuse,” Crawford said. “Every game is important for us. I’ve got to try to prepare the best I can and hopefully bring my best game.”
Are there concerns that the two-week layoff will affect his play?
“There shouldn’t be,” Crawford said. “I’m getting ready as best I can. That’s the only thing I can do, to make sure I’m getting practice [time], I battle hard and have good habits for the game.”
The Flames are coming off a 4-3 shootout loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night — “I was disappointed it was a three-point game,” Quenneville said — but before that, the Flames had won six straight.
As a result, the Flames are right back in the playoff hunt with 59 points, one more than the Hawks — and the Kings have 60.
“[The Flames are] battling to move up and get a spot, too,” Crawford said. “It’s another tough game for us.
“But we’ve had tough games all year. I’m sure we’ll be ready.”
Offensively, center Dave Bolland has been one of the best Hawks lately with seven goals in his last nine games.
“Bounces are going my way,” Bolland said. “Things are popping and going.”
But he knows there still are things to work on — like faceoffs. He won only 22.7 percent of his draws in Friday’s 4-3 loss to the Canucks. Bolland has a 44 percent winning percentage this season.
“Sometimes things go your way and things don’t go your way,” Bolland said. “After every practice, you’re always working on [faceoffs].”
Quenneville is looking for some improvement.
“Over time you should be getting stronger and getting more educated, be it technique-wise or the guy you’re going against,” Quenneville said. “He’s coming off a couple tough games, but we still put him out there in faceoffs on the left side more than we should. Sometimes that’s the matchup. But . . . that’s got to be an area where he should want to get better.”
After the Hawks’ power play went 0-for-5 during the loss to the Canucks in Vancouver, Troy Brouwer moved up to the first unit Sunday at practice with defenseman Brent Seabrook and forwards Patrick Sharp, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews.
Marian Hossa joined defensemen Duncan Keith and Brian Campbell and forwards Bolland and Tomas Kopecky on the second unit.
“We just made a little adjustment and alteration,” Quenneville said. “We’ll see how it works.”