Wednesday Night Hockey: Crawford’s return will give Blackhawks ’emotional boost’

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NBCSN’s coverage of the 2018-19 NHL season continues with the Wednesday Night Hockey matchup between the Chicago Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks. Coverage begins at 10:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

The last few years have been particularly difficult on Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford. The 34-year-old played in just 28 games because of post-concussion symptoms last year and he’s had the same concussion issues for a good chunk of this year.

Crawford has missed the last 28 games, but on Monday he was activated off injured reserve.

“It’s been another long wait,” Crawford said. “It’s always tough watching from the sidelines. Try to get back in there, hopefully I feel really good right away and it’s just going to be fun to play hockey again.”

His return couldn’t have come at a better time for a ‘Hawks team that’s just six points out of the final Wild Card spot in the Western Conference. Sure, they’d have to leap over four teams to get there but there’s still a slim chance that they could make things interesting.

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“He’s going to stop more pucks than the other guy across the rink, that’s the biggest thing/He does play the puck really well, that is a factor,” Blackhawks head coach Jeremy Colliton said. “Very composed back there. The other thing he brings is a calmness. Nothing’s going to bother him, and that filters down to the rest of the team. We’ve been talking about, don’t get too high or low, never give up. He’s got that.

“I’m sure the guys will get a little emotional boost. Most importantly, he’s a pretty good goaltender. He’s proven, tested, experienced, and that’s going to help. There is a belief in our room that we have what it takes, but he’ll help.”

When healthy, Crawford has shown that he has what it takes to be a steadying presence between the pipes for his team. He got off to a bad start this year, as he has 6-14-2 record with a 3.28 goals-against-average and a .902 save percentage. But in his defense, the team was a complete disaster out of the gate. That’s not to say that he couldn’t have been better.

If they’re going to make a serious push for a playoff spot, they’ll have to win games like this against an Anaheim Ducks team that is struggling badly. The Blackhawks have dropped back-to-back games against Colorado and Dallas. They can’t afford to drop these two points against a team that has lost three games in a row and five of their last six.

Can Crawford’s return help Chicago go on a run? We’ll find out shortly.

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.