Without coming right out and saying it, Blackhawks coach Trent Yawney strongly suggested Tuesday that Adam Munro will remain as the backup goaltender when Nikolai Khabibulin returns Thursday.
"[Munro] has played very well, there is no question about that," Yawney said after Tuesday's 2-1 overtime loss to the New York Islanders.
Munro was in goal for the third straight game and the fourth in the last five. His record is 2-0-2 with a goals-against average of 1.92 and save percentage of .930.
"I'm not going to give jobs by default," Yawney said. "[Munro] has basically earned it. . . . He took advantage of his opportunity and it's not like the other guy didn't get an opportunity."
The "other guy" is Craig Anderson, who has been the Hawks' backup from the start of the season. But since Khabibulin went down Dec. 28 with a groin injury, Anderson has struggled.
A native of Park Ridge, Anderson is 0-6 with a 3.88 goals-against average and an .835 save percentage since Khabibulin's injury. He is 2-8-1 with a 3.90 goals-against and .866 save percentage for the entire season.
Both Anderson and Munro make the NHL minimum of $450,000, but Anderson, who is in the last year of his contract, would have to clear waivers before being sent back to Norfolk of the AHL.
If Anderson is put on waivers, it's entirely possible the rest of the NHL will pass on him and he would return to Norfolk. The Hawks, however, had hoped Corey Crawford, their second-round pick in the 2003 draft, would get the bulk of the playing time in Norfolk this season.
Crawford has played 22 games for the Admirals, posting an 11-10 record, 2.70 goals-against average and .898 save percentage.
Munro, 23, has been dodging questions about his future the last couple of days and deflected them again Tuesday.
"I've had some pretty good games and I've gotten a couple wins under my belt," Munro said. "It's a tough question to answer. It's up to [management]. It's not for me to say whether I should stay or not."
Either way, a decision must be made Thursday.
"Three goalies is a crowd," Yawney said. "So something has to be done."
Oleg Kvasha scored the game-winner Tuesday for the Islanders, rebounding a Jason Blake shot three minutes into the extra session.
Each team had power-play goals in regulation, with Alexei Yashin scoring for New York and Jim Vandermeer for the Hawks.
Yawney said rookie defenseman Brent Seabrook should be ready to return to the lineup Thursday night against Colorado. Seabrook, the Hawks best plus-minus player at plus-8, has missed the last 13 games with a sprained knee. . . . Patrick Sharp was scratched with what team officials said was the flu. Also scratched were Adrian Aucoin (groin) and Curtis Brown (knee). Brown did participate in Tuesday's morning skate. . . . The Hawks and the Islanders have met twice in the postseason. The Islanders beat the Hawks in two games in the preliminary round of the 1977 playoffs and in four straight in the 1979 quarterfinals. . . . After going seven games allowing only one power-play goal, the Hawks have given up four in their last three games.