Crawford on IR, Ward starting vs. Predators

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Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Cam Ward (30) and defenseman Duncan Keith (2) defend against San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton (19) during the third period of an NHL hockey game Sunday Dec. 16, 2018, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Matt Marton)

by Scott King

The Blackhawks placed goaltender Corey Crawford on injured reserve Monday after Crawford exited the first period of Sunday’s 7-3 loss against the San Jose Sharks at the United Center with a concussion.

The two-time Stanley Cup champ will miss at least four games being placed on IR, but a specific timetable for his return is uncertain.

Chicago recalled goaltender Collin Delia from the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League on an emergency basis, who will back up Cam Ward against the visiting Nashville Predators Tuesday night.

“Cam’s an unbelievable goalie, so we’re definitely always happy to see him or [Corey Crawford] in net,” Blackhawks defenseman Connor Murphy said. “It’s definitely not something you even think twice about as a player when you have a guy like [Ward]. He’s such a leader too. It’s crazy having him in the room and just on the ice he’s talking and it gives the D man, us, confidence whether it’s him or [Crawford].” 

Delia leads the AHL with a .933 save percentage and shares third with a 2.34 goals-against average in 17 appearances.

“When you get called up, I think you have to be prepared for any moment,” Delia, 24, said. “No one’s said anything to me yet. I’m sure we’ll have discussions, or what have you, moving forward, but I’m gonna prepare in a high-quality way every night to make contributions. If my number gets called, I’m sure I’ll be ready.”

Delia’s number should be called soon according to Blackhawks head coach Jeremy Colliton.

“He came a long way in a short time,” Colliton said of Delia’s jump from the ECHL to AHL last year. “Very important, high-pressure games in the spring and he did a great job.

“He’s kind of picked up where he’s left off down in Rockford. Excited to get him here of course. The circumstances are less than ideal, but a lot of times that’s when guys break through. They get opportunity through circumstances that are sometimes negative. It’s an opportunity for him.”

Crawford made six saves on eight shots before leaving Sunday’s game after hitting his head on a post following a collision in the net with Chicago forward Dylan Strome at 18:30 of the first period. San Jose forward Evander Kane drew a goalie interference penalty on the play.

Crawford missed the final 47 games of the 2017-2018 season with a concussion and made his 2018-2019 debut on Oct. 21 (4-1 loss to Arizona Coyotes at United Center).

Roster moves

The Blackhawks activated forward Artem Anisimov (concussion protocol) and defenseman Gustav Forsling (shoulder) from injured reserve. Both are expected to be in the lineup Tuesday night.

Big stage experience

The Blackhawks loaned defenseman Henri Jokiharju to the Finnish men’s national junior team for the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship.

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