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Crawford on ice for Blackhawks' optional practice

by Brian Hedger

CHICAGO -- Despite looking wobbly leaving the ice after one period and not returning to a 3-0 victory against the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night, Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford was back on the ice Friday at United Center for an optional morning skate.

Ray Emery, who was named the National Hockey League’s third star for February on Friday, relieved Crawford for the final two periods and preserved the win and shutout, Chicago’s second in the past three games.

Prior to playing the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday night (8:30 p.m. ET, NHLN-US), Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said Crawford was feeling better and would be on the bench as Emery’s backup.

“Corey’s fine,” Quenneville said. “He skated this morning. I think they both could go today if they [had] to, but Ray did a nice job. The decision-making going into games, into these three games in 3-1/2 days here, this was kind of the plan. We’re going to have Corey and Ray [available] tonight and we’ll go from there.”

Quenneville was asked directly if Crawford had been ill in St. Louis and didn’t confirm or deny it.

“He got through it,” Quenneville said. “He didn’t seem too bad after the game and he was fine this morning, so he’s good to go.”

After the St. Louis game, Quenneville said Crawford’s ailment, described only as an "upper-body injury,” was unrelated to the upper-body problem that held him out for four straight home games recently.

At 9:04 of the first period of Thursday’s game, Blues forward T.J. Oshie made a hard rush to the net from the left wing and came very close to Crawford, who made the save on Oshie's shot. Replays showed Oshie’s left knee and then skate blade came off the ice and came close to clipping Crawford’s mask. No angles shown could confirm that any contact was made, however.

Crawford completed the period without apparent issues until he stumbled while leaving the crease after the horn sounded then glided toward the benches bent over. Crawford also appeared shaky upon leaving the ice, and Emery finished the game.

Crawford, however, went through a spirited workout with a limited number of Blackhawks players Friday. Also on the ice were center Dave Bolland and defenseman Steve Montador, each out with an upper-body injury.

Bolland has missed three straight games, and Montador hasn't played since March 27, 2012.

"[Bolland] skated very well today, did a nice job,” Quenneville said. “I like the progress, so he’s real close."

As for Montador, Quenneville said there is no change in his progress.

Here is the lineup the Blackhawks likely will use against the Blue Jackets:

Daniel Carcillo - Jonathan Toews - Marian Hossa

Patrick Sharp - Marcus Kruger - Patrick Kane

Bryan Bickell - Andrew Shaw - Viktor Stalberg

Brandon Saad - Jamal Mayers - Michael Frolik

Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook

Niklas Hjalmarsson - Johnny Oduya

Michal Rozsival - Nick Leddy

Ray Emery

Corey Crawford

Scratched: Brandon Bollig, Sheldon Brookbank

Injured: Steve Montador (upper body), Dave Bolland (upper body)

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