Two weeks ago, the Chicago Blackhawks had lost three of four and most Chicagoans — myself included — were convinced that a change needed to be made at the goalie position. Since that time, Corey Crawford has won two shootouts, beat the arch rival Detroit Red Wings twice and shutout a streaking St. Louis Blues team that had won six of their last seven.
My bad Corey. I should never have doubted you.
Luckily, I’m very comfortable eating crow and so I feel no sense of shame in admitting I was calling for the executioner’s blade a bit prematurely.
My concern was simply that I think it’s important for coach Joel Quenneville to have a clear cut No. 1 as the playoffs approach. Having your coach and team behind you is essential to a goalies mental state and even more so this season because Crawford’s backup, Ray Emery, is having a phenomenal season.
Thanks to Emery’s ridiculous numbers (he’s 15-1-0 with a 1.90 GAA) it’s been difficult for Quenneville to give Crawford a full vote of confidence. In Emery, he’s got a legitimate starting goalie with playoff experience and a guy capable of shutting teams down (he’s got three shutouts this season) in the event Crawford gets a bit loose.
Ultimately, it seems whoever the Hawks have in net is going to be successful. The team has seven shutouts this year after failing to record one all last season, and that speaks volumes about the effort the Hawks are getting from guys like Brent Seabrook, Duncan Keith , and Niklas Hjalmarsson.
Chicago defensemen have allowed 30 shots on goal or more only 11 times this season and so it’s safe to say that if I can get my foot out of my mouth, I might be able to suit up and pitch a shutout for the Hawks.
And so I’m done giving coach Q advice from the arm chair. Go ahead and run a platoon system in goal in the playoffs. It’s carried the Hawks to the best record in the league so far with seven games to play, and kept both goalies fresh and on top of their game.
Tonight, I’m gonna watch the game and then rant about how worthless Patrick Sharp has been since he’s come back from his injury. Then next week, I’ll apologize after he scores a hat-trick two games in a row.
Whatever I can do to help, ya know?