Ramblings: Crawford Returns, Samsonov Out, Keys To Play-In Series (July 26)

Ian Gooding

2020-07-26

Good news for Blackhawks fans, as Corey Crawford returned to practice on Saturday. Crawford revealed that he had tested positive for COVID-19 and had been in quarantine. The Blackhawks will need a healthy Crawford in order to have a chance against McDavid, Draisaitl, and the high-flying Oilers. More on Crawford and the Hawks in a bit.

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According to the Washington Post (via Sportsnet), Ilya Samsonov will not be available for the playoffs. At least the decision is made easier if you need to choose a Capitals' goalie, as Braden Holtby will be starting in the play-in tournament and the playoffs. Either Pheonix Copley or Vitek Vanecek would backup Holtby.

Holtby did not have his best season (.897 SV% and 3.11 GAA), but he has the added motivation of being a UFA after the playoffs. I don't think Holtby sticks around in Washington after the season because of the presence of Samsonov, so this could be considered an audition for teams in the market for a starting goalie.

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Although Canucks fans probably had him written off for the season, it looks like Micheal Ferland could return to the Canucks' lineup for their play-in series against Minnesota. The Canucks signed Ferland last summer to be the kind of physical presence that they needed, but he's been held to only 14 games due to concussion issues. I sincerely hope Ferland isn't being rushed back into the lineup here, although I'd like to see him do his thing in a Canucks uniform. One forward who is rumored to be a healthy scratch because of Ferland's return is Jake Virtanen, who has not impressed during camp.

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Dougie Hamilton missed a second consecutive practice on Saturday. Due to new injury reporting procedures, the Hurricanes have not stated a reason other than Hamilton leaving Wednesday's practice with "some visible discomfort." Remember that Hamilton broke his leg in January, but had been making a full recovery. It is not known whether this new injury is related.

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For Friday's practice, Aleksi Saarela was moved up to the top line with Aleksander Barkov and Evgenii Dadonov.