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NBCSN’s coverage of the 2018-19 NHL season continues with Tuesday’s matchup between the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks. Coverage begins at 6 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.
As the Blackhawks continue flirting with a Western Conference wild card spot, they received good news on Monday that goaltender Corey Crawford was feeling “back to normal” after being placed in concussion protocol for the second time in the last year.
During a Dec. 16 game against the San Jose Sharks, Crawford collided with Dylan Strome and hit his head on the goal post. He would leave the game and has not returned to the Blackhawks’ lineup since. Last season, the 34-year-old netminder suffered a concussion and missed 10 months, so obviously there was a lot of concern about his future.
“I had a few similar symptoms, but it was obviously a little bit quicker,” Crawford said on Monday after practicing with the full team for the first time since the injury. “It was nice to not wait that long. But I don’t know what to say, it’s just try to stay patient, try and be confident that it won’t last long. It’s nice that it’s back to normal.”
Since that night in December, the Blackhawks have compiled the seventh-most points in the NHL (29) in 22 games and can thank the duo of Cam Ward and Collin Delia for their parts in a run that sees them entering Tuesday’s game on a seven-game winning streak. The duo have been under siege since Crawford exited the lineup having faced a combined 817 shots, fourth-most in the NHL in that span as they’ve split the workd load. Delia, who inked a three-year extension on Monday, has posted a .924 even strength save percentage with Ward coming in at .919.
With only 51 appearance in the last two seasons, some were questioning whether Crawford would ever be back in net for the Blackhawks. But he said the thought of retirement never went through his mind.
“No, not at all,” he said. “I was gonna come back as soon as I felt 100 percent. I’m not worried about that. It is what it is. Some guys have to do deal with other injuries, it’s just what I had to deal with. I feel good, I feel ready, just going to work our way back into the lineup.”
It hasn’t been discussed yet when Crawford will start again, but with Delia and Ward playing as they are there’s no need to rush the franchise No. 1, especially given his recent injury history.
“I don’t know, it’s pretty tough to jump in right now,” said Crawford. “Deals and Wardo have been playing so well, we’re on a pretty good streak right now. Obviously I would jump in the net right away, but honestly we haven’t really discussed that at this point. We’re just trying to figure out days when I could practice with the team and kind of get timing back. That’ll come hopefully sooner than later.”
John Walton (play-by-play) and A.J. Mleczko (‘Inside-the-Glass’) will have the call from TD Garden in Boston, Mass. Pre-game coverage starts at 6 p.m. ET with NHL Live, hosted by Kathryn Tappen alongside Jeremy Roenick and Mike Johnson.