The news is in on Corey Crawford, and it isn’t great.
Chicago’s No. 1 netminder will miss the next 2-3 weeks with a lower-body injury suffered on Sunday night against Florida, head coach Joel Quenneville announced.
While the injury isn’t serious and will only sideline Crawford for a couple of weeks, the Blackhawks are in a precarious spot with their goalies. With veteran Nikolai Khabibulin already on IR, the club will be forced to go with Antti Raanta as its No. 1 and Kent Simpson as the backup — a tandem that has spent almost the entire season with AHL Rockford.
For Raanta, this promises to be a big test.
He signed with Chicago in June after lighting up the Finnish league last season. He backstopped Assat to the ’13 SM-liiga championship (capturing the Jari Kurri Trophy, Finland’s equivalent to the Conn Smythe), and that came after he posted a 1.33 GAA and .955 save percentage during the regular season, winning the league’s top goaltender award and MVP.
Raanta didn’t play a ton in Rockford — just 14 games — but has looked good in Chicago, posting a 3-0-1 record with a 2.16 GAA and .922 save percentage.
The real test for the ‘Hawks will be how they adjust to life without Crawford. He’s been one of the league’s most steady presences this season — tied for first in games played (27) and wins (17) — and is coming off a ’13 campaign in which he backstopped Chicago to a Stanley Cup championship, then signed a six-year, $36 million extension with the club.
In some ways, it really felt like their first-round series.
For all the talent on both ends of the rink with the Detroit Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning, each squad can really smother opponents defensively when things go that way.
Through two periods, the two teams were very quiet. Things really picked up when Justin Abdelkader unleashed a big hit, a moment that injected enough life into the proceedings for the Red Wings to eventually build a 3-1 win.
Maybe they’re slipping under the radar a bit compared to previous iterations of the team, but it’s interesting that the Red Wings are now undefeated in three games.
They’ve been impressive at times, too, outscoring opponents by a combined score of 11-4.
Call it a refreshing time after Mike Babcock or merely carryover from a subtly solid run last season, but either way, the Red Wings may just be able to keep up their end of a brewing rivalry.
Taking three games to score your first NHL goal isn’t a big deal, unless you’re someone like Connor McDavid.
The mega-hyped wunderkind must feel relieved to finally find the net, as he tied tonight’s Edmonton Oilers – Dallas Stars skirmish with a 2-2 deflection goal, which you can watch above this post’s headline.
To no surprise, there were plenty of reactions, including Pierre LeBrun’s tweet (which inspired part of this headline).
Of course, there were the inevitable Wayne Gretzky comparisons:
Interesting thing you might not consider: Stars fans will have to stomach this one even more frequently than that time Patrik Stefan biffed that empty-netter (also against the Oilers):
McDavid may have also delivered his first questionable check, too: