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At the Rink: Blues at Blackhawks

by Brian Hedger

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks have another injury hurdle to clear with the announcement Wednesday that starting goaltender Corey Crawford will be sidelined for up to three weeks with an undisclosed lower-body injury.

Crawford, who didn't practice Tuesday, met with reporters after the Blackhawks' morning skate at United Center while wearing a walking boot on his left leg. He said the injury occurred as he was leaving a concert, but declined to reveal much more.

"I was at a concert the other day and was on the way out, and I missed a step," he said. "I didn't think it was that bad. I got up the next day and it was worse than I thought, so I'm pretty embarrassed about it and frustrated."

Chicago has played the past month without veteran forward Patrick Sharp (lower-body injury), and rookie defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk is out 3-4 months following surgery to repair a fractured patella. Sharp has skated with the team the past two days and is close to returning.

Crawford, who missed six games earlier this season with an upper-body injury, is 12-5-1 with a 1.87 goals-against average and .929 save percentage. He's eighth in voting in the 2015 NHL All-Star Fan Vote presented by SiriusXM for the 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Game.

"Things were going really well," Crawford said. "Right now I'm just thinking about trying to get back as quickly as possible and make sure I'm right back where I was when I left off.

Starting in Crawford's place Wednesday against the St. Louis Blues (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN) will be Antti Raanta, who hasn't played an NHL game since Oct. 25, when he faced the Blues in a 3-2 loss at Scottrade Center. That outing was in relief of Crawford during his previous injury stint. Raanta's only game since then was with the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League, a tune-up to help with his timing after a long time between games.

Raanta was scheduled to start Nov. 22 at the Edmonton Oilers, during the Blackhawks' six-game "Circus Trip," but missed it with an illness. Crawford started the remaining four games.

"I haven't been thinking [about] that too much," Raanta said. "I got one game in Rockford. I felt good there, so I don't know why I shouldn't feel good when I go out there tonight. I'm having a good feeling. Practice went well, so I'm looking forward."

The Blackhawks recalled Scott Darling from Rockford on Tuesday as a second goaltender. Darling, who is from nearby Lemont, Ill., made his NHL debut at the end of October, and went 2-1-0 with a 1.98 GAA and .933 save percentage in three straight starts.

"It's still really exciting for me to be here," Darling said. "It's a little less nerve-wracking than the first time I was here, but still I'm excited and happy to be here."

The Blues kept injured defenseman Jay Bouwmeester (lower body) off the ice for their optional skate and said afterward he will miss a fifth straight game. St. Louis will start rookie goalie Jake Allen, but veteran Martin Brodeur drew the biggest media huddle after the skate. Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said Brodeur, who signed a one-year contract Tuesday, could start Thursday at the Nashville Predators or Saturday at the New York Islanders.

As for Crawford, the fact his injury could have been worse is no consolation.

"It's a tough bounce for me," he said. "I feel pretty bad about it and I just want to be out there playing hockey. We've got some tough games coming up against some division rivals, some games that I want to be on the ice for. It's pretty tough to swallow right now and I'm just going to work hard to get better."

Here are the projected lineups:


Alexander Steen - Jori Lehtera - Vladimir Tarasenko

Jaden Schwartz - Paul Stastny - T.J. Oshie

Steve Ott - Patrik Berglund - David Backes

Chris Porter - Maxim Lapierre - Ryan Reaves

Barret Jackman - Alex Pietrangelo

Carl Gunnarsson - Kevin Shattenkirk

Chris Butler - Ian Cole

Jake Allen

Martin Brodeur

Scratched: Magnus Paajarvi, Joakim Lindstrom

Injured: Jay Bouwmeester (lower body), Brian Elliott (knee)


Brandon Saad - Jonathan Toews - Marian Hossa

Kris Versteeg - Brad Richards - Patrick Kane

Bryan Bickell - Andrew Shaw - Daniel Carcillo

Joakim Nordstrom - Marcus Kruger - Ben Smith

Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook

Johnny Oduya - Niklas Hjalmarsson

Michal Rozsival - David Rundblad

Antti Raanta

Scott Darling

Scratched: Adam Clendening, Jeremy Morin

Injured: Patrick Sharp (lower body), Corey Crawford (lower body), Trevor van Riemsdyk (knee)

Status report: Clendening hasn't played since Nov. 26, after posting minus-1 ratings in back-to-back games during the road trip. … Seabrook participated in the skate after missing practice Tuesday because of an illness. … Bouwmeester, who left St. Louis' practice early Tuesday, rode a stationary bike during the morning skate.

Who's hot: Kane has five goals, seven assists and a plus-10 rating in the past seven games, since being paired with left wing Kris Versteeg and center Brad Richards. … Pietrangelo has one goal and five assists in the Blues' past five games.

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