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Blackhawks lose Crawford, get Versteeg back

by Brian Hedger

FLYERS (1-2-2) at BLACKHAWKS (3-0-1)


CHICAGO -- Just as they're about to get forward Kris Versteeg back, the Chicago Blackhawks lost another important puzzle piece Tuesday in goalie Corey Crawford.

Crawford, who started Chicago's first four games, is day-to-day with an upper-body injury that will cause him to miss a game Tuesday at United Center against the Philadelphia Flyers (8:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

Backup Antti Raanta will make his season debut, while 25-year-old Scott Darling was recalled from the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League to be the backup.

"He didn't feel great [Monday after practice], it was bothering him, and this morning it got a little worse," Quenneville said of Crawford. "I don't think it was a defining blow [that caused it]."

Quenneville said he doesn't expect the injury to become a long-term situation. Raanta didn't find out until Tuesday, when he stepped onto the ice for the morning skate at United Center.

After posting a 13-5-4 record with a 2.71 goals-against average and .897 save percentage last season as a rookie, Raanta is eager to get his second season in the NHL officially started.

"You try to be ready every day because you never know what's going to be going on in here," Raanta said. "Of course it's a little bit different morning when you come up here and you hear that you're going to play. [But] I feel good and I'm ready to go."

Following practice Monday, Quenneville said the plan for Raanta was to get his first start this weekend in the Blackhawks' first back-to-back set. Now there's a possibility he could get a couple starts this week.

Raanta made his biggest impact early last season amid injuries to Crawford and veteran backup Nikolai Khabibulin. In his first 17 games he went 12-1-3 with a 2.17 GAA and .911 save percentage. But his success rate dropped considerably after winning the backup job and sitting for long stretches.

A small amount of games for the Blackhawks in this season's first two weeks allowed Quenneville to start Crawford exclusively, which led to questions about Raanta's debut and playing time. Those questions were answered Tuesday.

"We've got a chance to play [him]," Quenneville said of Raanta. "I know everybody's asking, 'When are you going to play him? When's Antti going to get to play?' And I said [Monday] that things change quickly. I didn't think it was going to be that quick, but here he is."

Versteeg also will make his season debut.

After incurring a lower-body injury during a practice shortly before the season started, the 28-year old is eager to put a strong offseason to good use. The Blackhawks acquired him in a November 2013 trade, but Versteeg struggled to regain his top form in his first season following major knee surgery.

His speed is back now and his motivation is high.

"I've done a lot in my career with proving people wrong," said Versteeg, who likely will start at left wing on the second line. "It's now to prove people right. I know the people that have put their trust in me and believe I can play. It's now about proving those people right that I can go out there and compete and be a good asset for them."

The Flyers also are hoping to get a player back from injury, as coach Craig Berube said the availability of defenseman Braydon Coburn will be a game-time decision. Coburn has been out because of a lower-body injury sustained Oct. 8 in the season-opening game at the Boston Bruins and hasn't played since.

"He looked good," Berube said of Coburn after the Flyers practiced. "He's probably close as he can get to ready to go, so I'll just make a game-time decision. [I'll] make sure he feels good [Tuesday] coming in here."

Here are the projected lineups:


Michael Raffl - Claude Giroux - Jakub Voracek

Brayden Schenn - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Wayne Simmonds

R.J. Umberger - Sean Couturier - Matt Read

Zac Rinaldo - Chris VandeVelde - Jason Akeson

Nicklas Grossmann - Andrew MacDonald

Nick Schultz - Mark Streit

Michael Del Zotto - Luke Schenn

Steve Mason

Ray Emery

Scratched: Blair Jones

Injured: Braydon Coburn (lower body), Ryan White (chest), Vincent Lecavalier (lower body) Kimmo Timonen (blood clots)


Patrick Sharp - Jonathan Toews - Marian Hossa

Kris Versteeg - Andrew Shaw - Patrick Kane

Bryan Bickell - Brad Richards - Brandon Saad

Daniel Carcillo - Marcus Kruger - Ben Smith

Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook

Johnny Oduya - Niklas Hjalmarsson

Michal Rozsival - Trevor van Riemsdyk

Antti Raanta

Scott Darling

Scratched: Jeremy Morin, David Rundblad

Injured: Corey Crawford (upper body)

Status report: Berube said he might go with seven defensemen and 11 forwards if Coburn plays. The odd-man out up front in that scenario likely would be Akeson. ... Chicago alternated forwards on the fourth line during line rushes at the morning skate, but Morin was the last of them to leave the ice. That usually indicates a player is going to be scratched. ... Versteeg starting on the second line in his return is a bit of a surprise that Quenneville revealed during practice Monday. That's the spot forward Brandon Saad occupied until Quenneville bumped him down to right wing on the third line, where Versteeg was going to play prior to his injury.

Who's hot: Giroux has two goals and five assists in a four-game point streak for the Flyers, including the game-winning goal and one assist in a 6-5 overtime win Saturday at the Dallas Stars. Giroux also had six shots on goal and won 17 of 29 faceoffs.

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