Quenneville, Blackhawks happy to have Crawford back

Quenneville, Blackhawks happy to have Crawford back
January 2, 2014, 1:00 pm
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Christian Arnold

UNIONDALE, N.Y. – The Chicago Blackhawks get a welcomed sight back onto the ice Thursday night when they take on the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum.

Corey Crawford will start in net for the Hawks for the first time since he went down with a groin injury on December 8, against the Florida Panthers. Coach Joel Quenneville told reporters following the team’s morning skate, he was “just happy to get him back.”

“It’s good. The last couple of days he’s looked good,” Quenneville said. “He’s looking forward to playing tonight. It will be a good test for him as well.”

Crawford has not faced the Islanders (13-21-7) this season. Nikolai Khabibulin was in goal back on October 11 when the Blackhawks defeated the Isles 3-2.

Prior to the injury, Crawford had a 17-6-3 record in the 27 games he appeared in, though he had given up four goals in his previous two starts before being sidelined.

Quenneville isn’t asking too much from his starting goaltender is his first game back, just for him to play his game.

“Find the puck and keep it simple in there,” he said.

Saad Snubbed from USA Olympic Team

Unlike teammate Patrick Kane, Brandon Saad did not make the cut for the Team USA roster that will head to the winter games in Sochi, Russia next month.  

[RELATED: Patrick Kane named to U.S. Olympic roster]

The 21-year-old winger found out from his agent that he did not make the Olympic squad when the Blackhawks arrived in New York. Despite the bad news, Saad was trying to have a positive outlook on the situation.

“It’s a strong team to make and being a young guy I obviously wanted to make it this time around,” Saad said. “I’m still young and hopefully I have more opportunities.”

Saad has had a good year for the Blackhawks so far. In 42 games played in, he has recorded 30 points (14 goals, 16 assists) and is a plus-16.   

He will not be the only player on the ice who did not make Team USA’s Olympic squad. Islander forward Kyle Okposo did not make the squad either.  

Blackhawks Not taking Isles Lightly

The Islanders may be in the basement of the Eastern Conference, but Chicago knows they will be a tough team to go up against.

“They’ve been on a little bit of a roll here, so let’s make sure we’re respectful,” Quenneville said. “They have some offensive guys, they can make plays…We just want to make sure that we make them play some defense and be respectful. They can score when they get some speed.”

[MORE: Blackhawks kick off East Coast trip vs. Islanders on CSN]

New York is 6-2-2 in their last 10 games against the Blackhawks.

Return to the Barn in Uniondale

Thursday night will mark the first time since 2011 that the Blackhawks have traveled to Uniondale to play the Islanders at Nassau Coliseum.

The last time the Blackhawks skated on Nassau Coliseum ice for a regular season contest was back on Dec. 8, 2011, when the Blackhawks defeated the Isles 3-2 in the overtime.