Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville discusses his team's 4-3 loss to Dallas on Nov. 30, 2017. (Paul Skrbina/Chicago Tribune)
DALLAS — Like most NHL teams, the Blackhawks keep injury information close to the vest and only reveal what they must. Just how guarded are they?
As they boarded their charter flight for Dallas on Friday, goaltender Anton Forsberg expected to see Corey Crawford climb into the plane.
Instead, he saw Rockford goaltender Jean-Francois Berube. Only then did Forsberg learn that Crawford was on injured reserve and wouldn’t make the trip.
“I still don’t know what it is,” Forsberg said Saturday morning.
“It,” the Hawks finally revealed Saturday, is a lower-body injury that will keep Crawford out at least three games. The good news for the Hawks is that coach Joel Quenneville said he does not expect Crawford to be out “long term.”
The Hawks will reevaluate Crawford after those three games to see if he could play against the Sabres on Friday, the first day he is eligible to come off injured reserve. In the interim, Forsberg manned the net Saturday against the Stars.
Forsberg likely will be back to backing up soon. Quenneville said Crawford’s injury was something that had been bothering Crawford for a while, and the Hawks hope holding out Crawford for a few games will help heal it.
“It’s a lower-body injury that has been kind of annoying for a recent stretch and we want to get it right,” Quenneville said.
Crawford did not look comfortable during various stretches of Thursday’s 4-3 overtime loss to the Stars even though he played the entire game. Quenneville said the injury got worse during that game, prompting the move to injured reserve.
“He has had stretches in games where it flares up a bit and it was a little more bothersome last game,” Quenneville said.
The Hawks’ worst fear — that Crawford would miss weeks and possibly months — did not materialize. That’s important for a team still fighting to gain a foothold in the crowded Western Conference standings. Crawford has at times been the Hawks’ most important player, especially early in the season when they were struggling to generate offense. Crawford’s 2.29 goals-against average ranked eighth among all goaltenders entering Saturday.
Quenneville did not say who would start in net Sunday against the Kings, but he did say Crawford’s injury represented an opening for Forsberg to prove his mettle. If Forsberg doesn’t start Sunday, he figures to play Wednesday against the Capitals.
“It’s a great opportunity for (Forsberg) to prove that he can play and play consecutive games,” Quenneville said. “It’s a good situation to be in, and every goalie wants his chance, and he has played well for us. It’d be nice to get some wins behind him as well.”
Forsberg said he isn’t planning to change his mindset while Crawford is out, even though Forsberg hasn’t seen much work this season. He had a .904 save percentage and 3.71 GAA in six appearances entering Saturday.
“It’s not supposed to be any different if you’re playing every other week or playing every day.” Forsberg said. “So far I felt pretty comfortable when I’ve been playing. I really shouldn’t be complaining. I felt like I’ve improved every game.”
The Hawks would like him to continue that trend this week.