Defense-challenged Blackhawks put Crawford on IR

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It’s been an up-and-down season so far for the Chicago Blackhawks, but it’s fair to say that things would be far more down if Corey Crawford wasn’t cleaning up so many messes.

Well, Crawford won’t be available for such on-ice custodial duties, at least for a while, as the Blackhawks placed him on IR. They recalled J-F Berube in his absence, making for a short-term duo with Anton Forsberg.

Crawford will be sidelined for a week, and the hope is that this isn’t anything major.

Maybe there was a sign of some lower-body/mobility issues here?

This was already slated to be a tough weekend, at minimum, for Chicago. Take a look at the next couple of weeks for the Blackhawks, just in case:

Sat, Dec 2 @ Dallas
Sun, Dec 3 vs Los Angeles
Wed, Dec 6 @ Washington
Fri, Dec 8 vs Buffalo
Sun, Dec 10 vs Arizona
Tue, Dec 12 vs Florida
Thu, Dec 14 @ Winnipeg

Perhaps the Blackhawks could get Crawford back sometime during that three-game road trip beginning in a week?

The future-focused view is to give him rest, but you wonder if there might be a little bit of anxiety in Chicago right now.

When you first look at the standings, things aren’t too bad. They have the same number of standings points (28) as the Sharks, who hold the West’s final wild card spot. Looks can be deceiving, however, as the Blackhawks have played two more games than San Jose. Certain games-in-hand scenarios make it clear that they’re in a somewhat precarious position, making even a brief Crawford absence sound troubling.

Again, you don’t really need to dig too deep to note that the Blackhawks struggle in their own end. As of Friday, they’re allowing an average of 34 shots on goal against per game, the fourth-highest total in the NHL.

Crawford currently holds a magnificent .930 save percentage while appearing in 21 of the Blackhawks’ 25 contests this season, so … yeah, Chicago has to hope that this is a mere hiccup.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.