Lay­off hockey: Fors­berg hop­ing for bounce- back game

Chicago Sun-Times - - BLACKHAWKS BEAT - BY MARK LAZERUS Staff Reporter Email: mlazerus@ sun­times. com

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.”

Still wait­ing

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.”

Fol­low me on Twit­ter @ MarkLazerus.

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

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