Crawford's new pregame approach working

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Crawford's new pregame approach working

Corey Crawford wanted to switch some pregame habits.
The Blackhawks goaltender thought it was time to make some changes, and hes applied those here in the early season.
Before I was playing a little bit of soccer, now Im just going into my corner and stretching, doing a lot more before a game, Crawford said. After our meetings, whether it be in the gym or something, Ill relax and stretch out and get ready that way mentally by myself.
It must be working, because Crawfords focus on the ice has been there in the early going.
After a rough sophomore stint, Crawford is finding early redemption. Hes 2-0 in his first two starts with a 2.00 goals-against average. No, he still doesnt have that shutout that has eluded Blackhawks goaltenders since the 2010-11 season. But hes been strong in his outings, especially down the stretch of the Blackhawks 3-2 victory over St. Louis on Tuesday night.
Hes a great goaltender. Hes played well since he came in here for us and we have all the confidence in the world in him, Patrick Kane said. You look at the two goals (the Blues scored): one was pretty much a breakaway, another was a backdoor rebound. Theres not much you could do about those. And they had a chance in the slot to make it 3-3. Hes playing great to start and Im sure itll continue.
Coach Joel Quenneville liked Crawford down the stretch.
When the game was on the line he was big. He was quick, he moved and anticipated well and made a couple of timely, big saves, Quenneville said. Hes had a nice approach. We talked about it over the summer: that second year some of the top goalies who had strong rookie years (struggled). Expectations are there and players know them better. Im not saying he was't at the same level but it was a challenging year. He wants to play, wants to get to that top level again.
Crawford shook off his training-camp rust in a scrimmage against Rockford last week. Hes been on top of things since, first against the Stanley Cup champion Kings and then last night. Crawford said he felt good and confident about his game before the season began, and he reiterated that on Tuesday.
Stretching and spending a little time solo were subtle pregame changes. But they may just be working.
I feel really good, Crawford said. I said last game that I was really focused and I was able to carry that into todays game. My preparations been better this year. And its just the little things.

Alexandre Fortin signs three-year deal with Blackhawks

Alexandre Fortin signs three-year deal with Blackhawks

Alexandre Fortin was hoping to get a good enough look to earn a contract with the Blackhawks. On Sunday, he got it.

The Blackhawks agreed with Fortin on a three-year contract. The 19-year-old, who garnered attention at the team’s prospect camp in July, recorded 43 points in 54 games with Rouyn-Noranda (Quebec Major Junior Hockey League).

Fortin was passed over in two NHL drafts but his prospect camp was impressive enough to earn him an invitation to this training camp.

Blackhawks assistant Kevin Dineen appreciates interview opportunities

Blackhawks assistant Kevin Dineen appreciates interview opportunities

Kevin Dineen is back with the Blackhawks but there were times this summer you wondered if another team would take him away.

The Blackhawks’ assistant coach was a major candidate for the Colorado Avalanche head coaching job, according to the Denver Post, following Patrick Roy’s surprising departure. There were probably other inquiries, too.

“It’s always nice to go through a process of talking about the way you do your business. It’s also a reflection of where you are,” said Dineen following the Blackhawks’ White-Red scrimmage on Saturday. “No. 1, you have to get permission to do that, and the Blackhawks have been great about giving me the opportunity to go out and do that. But also, when you have success, a lot of people want to get your feedback or whatever it is.”

Dineen’s name will likely come up whenever there’s a coaching vacancy. He coached the Florida Panthers from 2011-13 and coached Team Canada women’s team to a gold medal at the 2014 Winter Olympics. Dineen will get another opportunity in the NHL but for now, life is good in Chicago.

[SHOP: Gear up for the 2016-17 season, Blackhawks fans!]

“For me, I couldn’t be happier right here,” he said. “I have a great person and hockey mind to work with in Joel [Quenneville]. But you know, down the line, those things play their way out and we’ll see where it goes.”

Arriving soon

Patrick Kane, Ville Pokka and Michal Kempny will join the Blackhawks’ training camp on Tuesday. The three finished up round-robin World Cup of Hockey play with their respective teams on Thursday.

Dineen said there’s a chance one of the defensemen, Pokka or Kempny, play in Wednesday night’s preseason game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

“They’ll get into the swing of things here on Tuesday,” Dineen said. “So that’ll give them a good rest after a long, tough September, and we expect them to hit the ice flying.”

Briefly

  • Duncan Keith will skate during one of the Blackhawks’ practices on Sunday and Monday.
     
  • Team White defeated Team Red 4-3 in Saturday’s scrimmage at the United Center. Spencer Abbott led Team White with two goals.