Going with the hot hand, Blackhawks Head Coach Joel Quenneville said that netminder Corey Crawford will get the nod in goal Wednesday night when the Blackhawks take on the Minnesota Wild in St. Paul.
“I like his approach to the season,” Quenneville said. “He seems prepared and he’s shown that he wants to play and he’s determined to be the best he can be. He’s taken charge of games at critical times and made big saves.”
Crawford has been between the pipes for five games during the Blackhawks’ record six-game winning streak to kick off the year, with a .933 save percentage and a sterling 1.78 goals-against average. The 28-year-old Montreal native, who earned the NHL’s Second Star of the Week for his performance, has allowed just nine goals on 134 shots to date, and Quenneville says he’s looking for his goaltender to continue improving.
“Everybody should be looking to get better,” the coach said. “Usually [goaltenders’] growth curves are a little bit longer because they’re learning the league, its shooters and their own game, as well. But we like the progress, and hopefully he continues to get better.”
Wild night ahead: They may be 2-2-1 so far, but no one in the Blackhawks’ dressing room is overlooking a very dangerous Minnesota Wild team, who acquired two perennial All-Stars this summer in the form of winger Zach Parise, formerly of the New Jersey Devils, and Ryan Suter, well-known to Blackhawks fans from his days in Nashville.
Though Chicago comes into St. Paul with the better track record to date, the team knows that the upcoming game in front of a national television audience will be a very good test, and an important first stop on their six-game road swing.
“We’re pleased with how we started but this is going to be a great challenge starting in Minnesota, which is going to be a huge game," said Marian Hossa. “They’re a strong team with new additions. When we come back after these six games, we’ll really know where our team is.”
“They’re in every game,” Quenneville said. “They have a couple of new pieces of their team who are exciting. We’re going to watch them tonight [vs. Columbus]. They played us hard last year, so we need to make sure to get off to a positive start.”
News and Notes: Defenseman Michal Rozsival did not skate at Tuesday’s practice, out day-to-day with a lower-body injury, but Quenneville says he expects the 34-year-old to participate in Wednesday’s morning skate.