NEWARK, NJ - DECEMBER 23: Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford (50) during the first period of the National Hockey League game between the New Jersey Devils and the Chicago Blackhawks on December 23, 2017, at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

So, if you’ve been following NHL news you’ll know that Corey Crawford has been medically cleared and is projected to take the net for Chicago when they take on the Arizona Coyotes on Oct. 12. This is certainly welcome news, his presence stabilizes the crease and could give a much-needed confidence boost to his teammates. Cam Ward, while certainly in his twilight years could be a serviceable backup. One of the Hawks struggles last year (aside from the defense) was goaltending. Now they could potentially sneak into a playoff spot this year.

Corey Crawford Has Been Cleared. Will It Help the Blackhawks?

The last time I discussed my hometown team I mentioned that there are a lot of what-ifs regarding this season. His health being one of them. He revealed in a press conference that he had suffered a severe concussion (more than likely inadvertently caused by Evgeni Malkin in a game against the Penguins.) and had been gone longer than anticipated due to symptoms related to it. Obviously, his health is paramount, and while the Hawks do have some solid prospects (Colin Delia being the one who could crack the roster within the next few years) It’s best to have a proven starter in net for any team that aims at making it to the playoffs at least.

The Hawks still have a few more issues that need resolving, the defensive depth is a huge problem, although Henri Jokiharju making the roster should be a big help.

Will the Hawks make it? There’s still a lot of question marks that I can’t answer. Provided the youth (Debrincat, Schmaltz, etc.) take that next step and the veterans in the core (Toews, Saad, and Seabrook especially) have huge bounce-back seasons. As we all know, anything can happen in the NHL. if the 1996 red wings can get knocked out in the western finals then anything is possible. Maybe my optimistic side is right and everything goes right, we battle our way through the annual bloodbath that is the central division and we make it back to the finals this year. Or the native Chicago pessimism kicks in and the wheels fall off of this thing faster than should be legal.

A Hot Take

Well, consider this my second hot take on the Blackhawks before the season truly gets started. I doubt this will have aged well by the time December rolls around but this does make for a nice exercise in both optimism and pessimism. If they don’t go anywhere this year then at least the Chicago Bears are actually watchable again. What is it with the owners of our sports teams only bothering to make improvements to the team when the bottom line is affected? (Save for Rocky Wirtz, obviously.)

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