It was reported on January 16 by the Chicago Sun-Times' Mark Lazerus that goaltender Corey Crawford may be out for the rest of the season. It is said that Crawford is feeling "vertigo-like symptoms" and concerns are growing within the team regarding his health. Crawford has been out for nearly a month now and is on his second stint on IR this season. If he is indeed done for the year, this is a devastating blow for the team.

Crawford, in 28 games played this season, owns a 2.27 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage which was among the best in the NHL.

His efforts in goal have kept the inconsistent Blackhawks in games and have even stolen a few wins along the way. The veteran goaltender has won two Stanley Cups in Chicago and is a two-time Jennings Trophy winner.

State of the Blackhawks

Sitting right outside of the playoffs looking in, the team has been very inconsistent this season. The defense itself has not been good at all, which makes it tough on who is in net. The defensive core is just getting old and slowing down, while divisional opponents like the Blues, Predators, and Jets are all adopting a younger and quicker style of play. The Blackhawks sit at 22-17-6 with 50 points, which is last place in the division, but still just a few points out of the second Wild Card spot.

It is one of the worst spots to be in considering they have had no consistency to stay in a playoff spot, yet they are not bad enough to give up the season yet. Losing Crawford for a long period of time, however, may completely damper their playoff hopes. Right now the struggling defense has 32-year-old rookie Jeff Glass in net, or Anton Forsberg who has shown flashes of being really good but also struggled badly at times.

This team is also missing a key guy on offense in Artem Anisimov, which makes the situation even harder. They are within reach of the playoffs and several teams in it, but are they really contenders?

Options moving ahead

Right now, the Blackhawks have three options, two of which are likely better than the other. Note these are the scenarios if Crawford is indeed done this season.

One is standing pat and see what happens. This option might not be the most ideal considering that standing pat could very well just keep them being a step above mediocre. Obviously, things could change with the roster as it is, but it is risky not taking any sort of action.

Another option is to try to make moves in an attempt to make the playoffs. This would including trading for or finding some way to add a veteran goaltender. This option also has risks, considering this would involve likely trading assets for any veteran goalie for just a few months. It is not like they can pick up a goalie that is equal to Crawford since there is not much out there right now. Looking at goalies on the last year of their contract on teams that will likely be selling include: Cam Ward, Antti Raanta, Jaroslav Halak (making over $4 million this year), or Antti Niemi.

The last option is cutting their losses and looking ahead. This would include making some trades to ether gain young assets, picks, or for the sake of clearing cap space. This might be the ultimate fate this season and their best option if they are still not gaining any ground on their divisional opponents in the race. This would not be a "blow up" per say, but it would attempt to trade some veterans while keeping the Toews-Kane-Saad-DeBrincat core intact. It will be hard with big contracts and aging players, yet it is something the Blackhawks may really have to consider trying.

Get well Corey Crawford.