Jim Young/Associated Press
Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford is expected to make his official return to the ice for Thursday night’s game against the Arizona Coyotes after being held out of game action for the past 10 months because of lingering concussion symptoms.
Crawford has not appeared in an NHL game since Dec. 23, 2017.
“We’ll see how he feels in the morning but we expect him to play tomorrow,” Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said on Wednesday, per the team’s official Twitter account.
The Blackhawks will wait until game day to make an official decision, but as of Wednesday, the veteran was ready for action.
“It feels good to be back to myself. I’m feeling good, feeling clear,” Crawford said, according to The Athletic’s Mark Lazerus. “I’m sure I’ll be a little anxious getting into it, some nerves. I’m definitely excited, I’ll tell you that.”
Jitters aren’t the only thing Crawford may have to overcome in his first game back. He may have to shake off some rust as well after missing such a long period of time. However, when he’s healthy and on top of his game, there have been few better than him over the years.
Crawford has 230 career wins, including 23 shutouts, and has helped Chicago hoist the Stanley Cup on a pair of occasions. Prior to last season, he had made at least 55 appearances in six of his seven full seasons with the team, providing stability in net.
Before the injury last season, he went 16-9-2 (including two shutouts) with a 92.9 save percentage and a 2.27 goals against average in 28 games. Without Crawford, the Blackhawks struggled to a 33-39-10 record and missed out on the postseason for the first time since 2007-08.
With Crawford sidelined to start the season, offseason acquisition Cam Ward has held down the fort in the crease for Chicago. The former All-Star has guided the Blackhawks to a 3-0-2 start, although he has allowed at least three goals in every game this season.