The Corey Crawford watch appears to have taken a not-so-good turn. Crawford, who has sat out the past few games, is "dealing with a head injury, and possibly something similar to the vertigo symptoms that Bryan Bickell was dealing with last spring," reports Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times.
Crawford officially remains day-to-day with an unspecified upper-body injury, but this is a sign that his situation might not be so simple.
Head injuries can often be tricky for teams and players to handle, making this a potentially worrisome situation for the Hawks leading up to the playoffs. Crawford has been sitting out giving up five goals to Los Angeles on March 14. With the playoffs set to begin in mid-April, time is running out for Crawford to get right and return to the lineup. Without him, Chicago's chances of winning another Stanley Cup would take a major blow.
Crawford has been one of the best goaltenders in the league this season. Only New York's Henrik Lundqvist has played as many minutes and posted a higher save percentage. Nobody has recorded more than Crawford's league-leading seven shutouts. The Blackhawks lead the league in overall save percentage and are fifth in 5-on-5 save percentage largely because of Crawford's brilliance.
Scott Darling has been serviceable in Crawford's absence, posting a .917 save percentage this season, but Crawford is unusually important to Chicago this year. The team's possession numbers are down and a less dominant team on the ice puts more pressure on the goaltender to shoulder the load. Crawford's stellar play has allowed the Hawks to maintain their regular-season success despite waning dominance in some key areas. A Hawks team without him will have a much, much harder time winning four straight playoff series this spring.
So let's hope Crawford can shake off these head-related issues, but as we saw with Bickell last spring, there's no guarantee here. Bickell dealt with his vertigo-related issues through the summer before discovering that it was actually an ocular problem. Unless Crawford can recover much quicker than that, Darling better be ready to play the best few weeks of his life if the Hawks want to make a run.