Corey Crawford participated in practice for about 20 minutes Saturday at MB Ice Arena for the first time since he suffered a concussion in December.
The Blackhawks star goaltender went through drills with goaltending coach Jimmy Waite prior to practices on two separate occasions — Jan. 19 and Feb. 4 — before Saturday.
Corey Crawford is practicing. Anisimov scores. Is that a bad sign? pic.twitter.com/Lt9HoN7tyR— John Dietz (@johndietzdh) February 9, 2019
More Corey Crawford in net. pic.twitter.com/hL4gv5FJ4y— John Dietz (@johndietzdh) February 9, 2019
#Blackhawks Colliton on Crawford practicing: “I wouldn’t read too much into it. Obviously, it’s a process here. He’s not going to get too high or too low and neither are we. But I’m happy for him that he felt good enough to be on the ice and we’ll see what happens.”— Chris Wescott (@TheChrisWescott) February 9, 2019
Colliton says Crawford skating is “definitely positive... closer now than he was before.” But there are still a bunch of hurdles and he cautions not to read much into his participation. #Blackhawks— Chris Wescott (@TheChrisWescott) February 9, 2019
Crawford left the team’s dressing room before media availability.
Crawford was diagnosed with a concussion Dec. 16 after his head hit the left goalpost during a collision in the first period against San Jose. The 34-year-old left the game after the collision and did not return. The next day he was placed on injured reserve and rookie Collin Delia was recalled from the AHL on an “emergency basis.”
Prior to his head injury, Crawford was 6-14-2 with a 3.28 goals-against average and .902 save percentage in 23 games. He missed the first five games of the season as he was working his way back from his first known concussion that caused him to miss 47 games last season.
On Jan. 6, general manager Stan Bowman said “if (Crawford is) medically cleared to play, then he’ll play again.”
[MORE: Crawford’s concussion timeline]
The last time Crawford returned to practice from a concussion, in early October, it was 12 days before he made his season debut Oct. 18 against Arizona. He made 27 saves on 30 shots in a 4-1 loss.
A similar timeline would have Crawford return Friday, Feb. 22 against Colorado at the United Center.
Cam Ward and Delia have shared the starting netminder duties in Crawford’s absence. Whenever the Blackhawks decide to activate Crawford from IR they can reassign Delia to the AHL since the rookie is waiver exempt. Ward, who turns 34 at the end of this month, has a full no-movement clause on his one-year deal and will have to agree to waive it to be traded if the Blackhawks want to keep Delia in the NHL.
Prior to Saturday’s games across the NHL, the Blackhawks sat two points back of the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference with 53 points, but had Vancouver (55) and Colorado and Edmonton (53) above them in the standings.
The Blackhawks, who have won six straight games, host Detroit at 2 p.m. Sunday at the United Center.