Unlike last season, Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford
comes into training camp as the undisputed starter after an impressive rookie season.
He played in 57 games and finished the regular season with a 33-18-6 record and 2.30 goals-against average before starting all seven games of a first-round playoff loss to the Vancouver Canucks
. Still, the fact Crawford started the final 27 games of the regular season is something Hawks coach Joel Quenneville
would rather not repeat.
"If you want to put a number on (Crawford), the mid-50s (in starts) is probably a number we're looking at," Quenneville said. "I think that will be a healthy dose for him. I don't expect or envision him doing what we did last year, playing the number of games he did in a row – but you've got to compliment him on how well he handled the intensity and the significance of those games, none better than Game 7."
Behind Crawford on the depth chart is a battle that will be decided in training camp between veteran Ray Emery
– who played with the Anaheim Ducks
last season – and 24-year old Alexander Salak
, whom the Hawks acquired last season from the Florida Panthers
along with forward Michael Frolik
Salak had a great season with Farjestads BK in the Swedish Elite League and was thought to be Crawford's backup before Emery entered the picture on a tryout offer. Quenneville said the plan for the pre-season will likely be to get Crawford three whole games while splitting the remaining exhibition games between the other six goalies in camp.
"We'll sort out the goaltending situation as we go along," Quenneville said. "Nothing's set in stone exactly how many games they're going to play, but I'd say they'll probably play a balanced (amount)."