|Crawford may be in goal for Blackhawks against Coyotes|
CHICAGO -- Corey Crawford last took the ice in game action with the Chicago Blackhawks 10 months ago before what was revealed to be a concussion has kept him sidelined ever since.
That is expected to change on Thursday when Crawford will likely make his first start since December against the Arizona Coyotes at the United Center. Crawford has been working out with the Blackhawks for the past few weeks but has not be ready to return to the net in a starting role since December.
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville told reporters on Wednesday that as long as Crawford continues to feel good at Thursday's morning skate, he will start. The decision will be up to Crawford.
"He looks good in the net," Quenneville told reporters on Wednesday, according to The Athletic. "He's been off for a long, long time -- is there rust? Do we expect rust? I think the way he's competing and practicing and finding pucks, he looks like he hasn't missed a beat."
While Crawford is set to return, veteran forward Brandon Saad could be a healthy scratch for Thursday's game. Saad was recently demoted to the fourth line and has been wearing a practice jersey designated for healthy scratches all week in practice. Quenneville has said repeatedly that he needs to see more from Saad. Asked Wednesday if Saad will Arizona, Quenneville replied, "We'll see."
The Blackhawks (3-0-2) have had all five of their games this season decided in overtime. Chicago has not played since Saturday, when they beat the St. Louis Blues, 4-3, in overtime when Alex DeBrincat scored with nine seconds remaining in overtime to lift the Blackhawks. Cam Ward made 35 saves in the win, which was expected to be Chicago's final game without Crawford in the lineup.
"Practices have been great," Crawford told reporters Wednesday. "I've been getting the timing a little bit more, getting up to speed and reading shots and all of that. We're still going to wait until (Thursday) morning (to decide) but right now, I'm feeling good."
Meanwhile, the Coyotes (1-4) enter Thursday's game in a season-long scoring slump. Arizona dropped a 2-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night and has not scored more than one goal in each of their four losses. The Coyotes have been shut out in three of their four losses and have tallied just four goals in five games.
In Tuesday's loss, Arizona netted its only goal on a first-period power-play goal by Brendan Perlini, who gave the Coyotes an early lead. The Coyotes have now been outscored 11-3 this season, which has caused continual frustration for a team looking to get its offense rolling.
"Once again, we scored one goal. We've got to score some goals," Arizona coach Rick Tocchet told reporters after Tuesday's loss, according to the Coyotes' official website. "We had some opportunities there (Tuesday), a couple point-blankers and we didn't put them in. ... There's some empty nets there. I don't know what else to say. I mean, the play is there, put (the puck) in, you put it in. There's no secret."
Despite the lack of scoring, Perlini believes Arizona will find a way to turn things around.
"We're doing good things," Perlini told reporters Tuesday. "A lot of good chances out there, sometimes, it's just the odd bounce here and there. I know it sounds funny, but as long as you keep at it, we're going to start scoring in big numbers so I think it will flip around the other way."