By Dan Bernstein —
CBSChicago.com senior columnist
(670 The Score) Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford seemed to gut out the remainder of the game after what looked like a groin pull suffered in the first period a week ago in Dallas. He’d go on to surrender the overtime game-winner, then was placed on injured reserve with what was labeled officially as a “lower-body injury.”
His presence has been missed since.
The Blackhawks are 0-2-1 with backup Anton Forsberg in the net, and the newcomer bottomed out in Washington on Wednesday night with the kind of soft goal one rarely sees at the NHL level, a bad-angle toss on net from Tom Wilson that appeared to catch Forsberg unaware, as if he was expecting the puck to be rotated to the top instead of shot on goal, and it went right through him to give the Capitals a 2-0 lead in the first.
Joel Quenneville waited to lift Forsberg until Alex Ovechkin slammed in a rebound off a point-blank save of a Wilson breakaway moments later, but the die was already cast on this night. Jean-Francois Berube it would be for the remainder, as he made his Blackhawks debut in a mop-up effort and stopped 12 of 14 shots in the Capitals’ eventual 6-2 win.
Forsberg had been mostly solid in his other two starts, but this underscored the outsized importance of a star goaltender for a team struggling to return to form as a dominating puck-possession team that creates the unrelenting pressure of high-danger scoring chances.
Crawford isn’t supposed to matter this much for the Blackhawks, but he has and he apparently does.