Crawford back in net
Corey Crawford will return to the Blackhawks goal on Friday against the Detroit Red Wings for the first time in eight days, and he's anxious to finally get back out there. Not because he feels he's lost his spot as the Hawks' No. 1 goalie, 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 continued to downplay any notion of a goaltender controversy on Thursday and continued to play up the pleasant "problem" of having two guys playing at an elite level.
"These guys, they want to be THE guy," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "But at the same time, they know when they're not the guy, it's all about the team."
Crawford said 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.
"You never know," Crawford said. "We've done a great job of it this year. Who knows? But the whole year we've gone game y game, and we haven't gotten ahead of ourselves. So why do that now?"
Bolland close to returning
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 on Friday. Quenneville said he hoped Bolland could be back for Sunday's game at St. Louis.
Bolland took a slap shot from Nashville's Shea Weber off the lower leg last Monday. He returned the following 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 ass. You feel like your'e ready, and then it sort of aggravates it a little bit."
Bolland's not taking his time, despite the Hawks' lofty position in the standings.
"I want to rush back, I want to play," he said. "It's never fun sitting out and watching games or getting skated out there."
Nine-year-old James Ensign of Barrington, who has battled leukemia, skated with the Hawks as part of the Make-A-Wish charity. He scored on Crawford during the shootout portion of practice, then worked on faceoffs with Jonathan Toews and Jamal Mayers.