The Chicago Blackhawks welcomed the Florida Panthers with open arms on Sunday as it was just what the doctor ordered.
You’re suffering from severe Penalty Killing symptoms? Not a problem, the 28th worst PP is coming to town.
You’re looking to get back to your winning ways? I’ve got you covered with the 27th best offensive team in the league getting ready in the visiting dressing room.
The Blackhawks cruised to a 6-2 win to get them back into the W column. Just a short slump that was undeniably making the Hawks’ faithful anxious after such a dominant run over the years.
This win did not come without consequence unfortunately though. Corey Crawford goes down in the first period with a lower body injury. My guess? A sprained knee. My status? Not a doctor… so who knows.
The reality is that Antti Raanta is the man for the next few games, at least. If Nikolai Khabilbulin is not well enough to go, then Rockford’s opening roster goaltending becomes Chicago’s present tandem and Kent Simpson is packing his bags as I type/you read.
The Hawks have had some great luck with injuries aiding to their success over the past few years. The wounded have healed just in time for this potential long term injury to Crawford.
The Blackhawks have Handzus and Shaw back with Mike Kostka just being activated as well. This isn’t the end considering the Hawks record, but a big task for the 24 year old Raanta.
The message boards and twitter feeds will be blowing up saying it’s all on the new-to-America Finn and I can’t argue. I do however have the pressure pointed to someone else.
The most important person in for the Blackhawks right now might be Steve Weeks. By no means am I a goaltending expert but I have played the position and admired the unique role of the goalie for many years. If my knee didn’t give out I might have persued it even further!
Steve Weeks was brought in to replace the very popular Stephane Waite who had been righting the wrong the best he could for a decade in Chicago.
Weeks and Blackhawks Head Coach Joel Quenneville were teammates in Hartford for four seasons from 1984-88. In his first year in the Windy City was lucky enough to inherit Corey Crawford. A goaltender coming off his first Stanley Cup and a freshly signed 6 year contract. Easy gig huh? Well it just got harder.
Now, Crawford might rise from the night with a minor injury and all is very temporary between the pipes for the Hawks. Then again (… and knock on wood) #50 might be the recipient of some awful luck with a longer term injury.
If that is the case, Raanta needs extra attention by the vet Weeks. Andrew Allen is the current Rockford Icehogs Goaltending Coach and has held the position for 3 years. Andrew Allen was a key cog in pursuing Raanta and helped get the Finn accustomed to the North American ice and lifestyle in his stint in Rockford.
I’ve been impressed with #31’s composure more than anything but some of his game has left much to be desired.
His stick handling is above average but needs to earn the trust of his defencemen as the Panthers enjoyed a juicy turnover on Sunday which led to a goal. The good news is that he can move the puck, just more communication is needed. Enter Weeks.
Raanta is extremely agile and quick, but I’ve noticed that he finds himself in less than desirable positions facing the boards after a rapid attack. He also goes down prematurely at times and he needs to be more composed in those situations. Enter Weeks.
He needs to be prepared each and every game to step in and face the best in the world, regardless of the time and place. Enter Weeks.
Let’s see what fate brings for Mr. Corey Crawford in the coming days and the Hawks brass will determine the best course of action from there.
Fingers crossed the wounded subside throughout the remainder of the season. Then again, that’s why Bowman has equipped this team with substantial depth to fill the void.
Filed Under: Chicago Blackhawks
About the Author: I am a rare Chicago Blackhawks fan from Canada, one might describe me as a hockey connoisseur and a solid checking line centre to your local rec hockey team. I once lived in a town of 500 people and now work in the hockey mecca that is Toronto. I work in the wonderful world of Advertising and these opinions are one of my own and not of my company - don't get it twisted.