Layoff hockey: Forsberg hoping for bounce- back game
PHILADELPHIA — Of all the challenges that come with being a backup goalie, stewing on a loss might be the toughest.
When Corey Crawford has an off night, he gets a chance to redeem himself a day or two later. But by the time Anton Forsberg gets back between the pipes for an actual game, it will have been two full weeks since he allowed five goals on 20 shots in a loss to the Avalanche.
“That’s how it is as a backup goalie,” Forsberg said. “It’s something you have to be able to handle.”
Forsberg will start Saturday on the road against the Hurricanes or Sunday at home against the Devils. His layoff has been longer than usual this time around because Crawford started back- to- back games last weekend. Typically, the backup goalie only gets a start when there are back- to- back games. But Forsberg didn’t question coach Joel Quenneville’s decision to go with Crawford against the Canadiens on Sunday.
“I don’t blame him at all,” Forsberg said. “If I had been the coach and my goalie had a shutout in two straight games, I’m sure I would play that goalie one more time, too. You ride the hot goalie; it’s the right thing to do.”
In the meantime, Forsberg has been sticking with the mindset that Hawks backups have clung to for years — treating each practice as if it were a game. Nothing can truly simulate game action, but Forsberg focuses on the three- ontwo and two- on- one drills during practices, morning skates and pregame warmups in order to keep his reads sharp.
After two long weeks, he’ll find out this weekend how effective that strategy has been.
“By this time last year, I had played 10 or 15 games [ in the AHL],” Forsberg said. “But practice has been good, and [ goalie coach Jimmy Waite and Crawford] have been helping me a lot. I’m prepared, and I’ll be ready to go.”
The wait is over
Gustav Forsling has been counting the days. Literally.
“It’s been a week and five days,” he said. “So I’m really excited. It’s going to be a fun night.”
Forsling returned to the lineup Thursday night, paired with Brent Seabrook, after missing three games with an apparent head injury. The nebulous timetable of his return — he was questionable for all three games and initially expected to play last weekend — made it all the more frustrating. But the extra few days before the game allowed him to get his conditioning back up to game levels.
“Of course, you want to play every game and play as much as possible,” he said. “It was frustrating. But I feel good now, and that’s the most important thing.”
Tanner Kero was a healthy scratch for the eighth consecutive game. Tommy Wingels has not only proved to be a viable center, his line — with Lance Bouma and John Hayden — has been one of the few consistent bright spots for the Hawks. That has left Kero, the designated fourth- line center with Marcus Kruger now in Carolina, without a spot. And since he’d have to clear waivers, the Hawks have no interest in trying to send him to Rockford.
Quenneville spoke with Kero after the morning skate, advising him to be patient.
“There’s not much to talk about in a positive way, but I commend him on how he’s handled it,” Quenneville said. “Hopefully, he gets a chance to come into the lineup and does what he can to prove that he wants to stay and can stay.
‘‘ You can only say he’s doing what we want him to be doing, and that’s working hard in practice, treating it like a game and keeping himself game- ready.”
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Blackhawks forward Artem Anisimov ( left) and Travis Konecny of the Flyers vie for the puck in the second period Thursday night in Philadelphia. | MATT SLOCUM/ AP