Author: James O'Brien

Goalie nods: Corey Crawford returns

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All the latest from the blue paint …

Corey comes back for Chicago

The Chicago Blackhawks have been playing quite well in Corey Crawford’s absence, as Scott Darling and Antti Raanta have put up almost identically nice numbers. Still, there’s something to be said for stability, and Chicago will get that back tonight as Crawford faces off against the always-limping Columbus Blue Jackets.

Crawford, 29, was on quite the hot run before he went down with a lower-body injury, too. He won his last three games, allowing four goals combined. Crawford also won six of seven and eight of 10.

His overall numbers have been impressive, even if the strong team in front of him certainly helps matters; Crawford is 12-5-1 with a .929 save percentage and one shutout.

The Blackhawks will probably face Sergei Bobrovsky tonight as they hope to continue their domination of Columbus.

Elsewhere …

Coyotes at Kings: Devan Dubnyk vs. (probably) Jonathan Quick

Capitals at Devils: Braden Holtby vs. Cory Schneider

Lightning at Islanders: Andrei Vasilevskiy vs. Jaroslav Halak

Flyers at Maple Leafs: Ray Emery’s expected, Jonathan Bernier’s confirmed

Senators at Canadiens: Robin Lehner vs. Carey Price

Rangers at Hurricanes: Henrik Lundqvist vs. Cam Ward

Panthers at Penguins: Roberto Luongo vs. Marc-Andre Fleury

Avalanche at Sabres: Calvin Pickard vs. Jhonas Enroth

Predators at Wild: Pekka Rinne vs. Darcy Kuemper

Flames at Canucks: Jonas Hiller vs. Ryan Miller

Blues at Sharks: Jake Allen vs. Antti Niemi

Bishop nears return, Johnson is a toss-up for Lightning tonight


Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Ben Bishop seems like he’s nearing a return from a lower-body injury, with a Tuesday comeback being the best-case scenario, as the Tampa Times reports.

The 28-year-old is expected to use Monday’s practice as a barometer for whether or not he can return on Tuesday, although the goalie and team seem aware that a holiday break could really give him a chance to approach full strength.

Bishop faced live shots this morning, the first time he’s done so since getting injured.

While Bishop has been ruled out of Saturday’s game against the New York Islanders, Tyler Johnson looks like a game-time decision after missing Friday’s contest with a stomach flu (or “The Gudas,” as head coach Jon Cooper apparently calls it).

Evgeni Nabokov’s shaky play has only added incentive to get Bishop back sooner, yet the big goalie’s absence allows Tampa Bay to get a better look at potential goalie of the future Andrei Vasilevskiy. He’ll get a nice test in the form of the Islanders’ dangerous attack on Saturday.

Sickness and uncertainty prompt Pens to recall Pouliot, Chorney (Update)


It’s unclear which Pittsburgh Penguins players will be healthy enough to play against the Florida Panthers on Saturday, but it seems safe to say that it was necessary for the team to call up Derrick Pouliot and Taylor Chorney.

While skipping out on a morning skate doesn’t guarantee an absence from that evening’s game, it’s still stunning to observe the players who weren’t present: Christian Ehrhoff, Paul Martin, Beau Bennett, Robert Bortuzzo, Olli Maatta, Zach Sill and Scott Wilson.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Josh Yohe hits the nail on the head: good luck predicting the Penguins’ lineup for tonight.

Update: The latest word is that Ehrhoff will miss at least three games while Martin is out for sure tonight, among other omissions. Craig Adams’ iron man streak also appears to be at an end.

The upside is that the Penguins get an early look at Pouliot (pictured).

The 20-year-old generated an impressive 20 points in 23 games so far in the AHL, and with the pedigree that comes with being the eighth overall pick of the 2012 NHL Draft, there’s reason to be intrigued by what he can do (even at such an early point in his career).

At this point, the Penguins might have to hope that “hearty immune system” is on his scouting report, though.

At least it’s providing a venue for some humor, though, eh?