The Chicago Blackhawks spent a lot of money in 2013 to make sure goaltender Corey Crawford would be in front of Chicago net for quite some time. And just because the year is now 2014 doesn’t mean the Hawks should stop protecting their massive investment.
Crawford is set to return to the ice Thursday night in what will be the first time in nearly a month. No. 50 had an apparent groin injury early in December and has been rehabbing ever since. Thankfully, Finnish stalwart Antti Raanta stepped in beautifully for Joel Quenneville‘s club as Chicago was 7-1-2 in Crawford’s absence. Due to Raanta’s excellence and the fact that the Blackhawks are currently keeping three goalies on the roster, there is no need for Chicago to be stubborn when it comes to rushing Crawford back.
Now, I highly doubt the lowly New York Islanders are going to get the best of Crawford, but there’s always a chance No. 50 comes out rather rusty. If that’s the case then the Blackhawks are put in a rather tough spot: do you let Crawford battle it out hoping he will regain his rhythm, or do you turn to Raanta at the risk of angering your franchise goaltender?
The answer is simple: pull Crawford. In case you weren’t aware: the NHL regular season is an absolute breeze for the Blackhawks. And the last time I checked, Crawford is getting paid to stop pucks in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, not in January against the 13-21-7 Islanders. So while everyone should be excited over Crawford’s return, let’s not kid ourselves into thinking that the Hawks need him back ASAP.