Chicago can be a tough town to play for.
In 1985 The Chicago Bears won their first Super Bowl and established themselves as one of the greatest teams in NFL history. Sadly, they failed to complete a perfect season when they stumbled on Monday Night Football versus the Miami Dolphins and finished 15-1. 28 years later, it’s still that one loss that dominates the conversation whenever the team’s legacy is discussed.
The Chicago Bulls won the NBA Championship in 1995-96 and set the record for most wins in the regular season with 72. They also lost two in a row at one point in early February and the city went into a panic. The newspaper headline the next day claimed the sky was falling and then-mayor Richard M. Daley went into seclusion and was put on suicide watch by his staff.
And now we have the 2012-13 Chicago Blackhawks putting together a historic regular season and positioning themselves to shatter our collective hearts into a million pieces.
Must we be so tortured?
The Hawks extended their points streak to 11 games over the weekend by beating the Nashville Predators in overtime on Friday and then losing in a shootout to the Phoenix Coyotes on Saturday at the United Center. They now have four games remaining and a five-point lead on the Pittsburgh Penguins in the chase for the President’s Trophy.
Unfortunately, none of this is what has brought us together today.
Today we have gathered to further lament the play of goalie Corey Crawford. With backup Ray Emery still banged up, Crawford was asked to go back-to-back this weekend and the result was further evidence as to why Chicago needs to seriously consider who they want in net come game one of the playoffs.
On Friday, Crawford gave up four goals in regulation to a severely short-handed Nashville team who had lost seven straight and hadn’t won a road game in almost a month. Four times the Hawks gave Crawford a lead, and four times he gave it right back.
Rebounds were a huge problem all throughout the game and his ability to track the puck in the attacking zone often put him out of position during rushes. The Nashville game also further exposed Crawford’s ability to hang onto one goal leads in the third period.
Saturdays game against the Coyotes gave fans an opportunity to watch Crawford cough up what I’d like to classify as the softest goal in recent Blackhawks history. After Chicago had taken the lead just past the halfway point in the first period, Rostislav Klesla tied it up by literally bouncing in a dump-in pass from center ice.
Klesla lobbed the puck toward the Chicago net from the left wing boards and as Crawford fell to his knees the puck bounded over him on a short hop.
“It’s just a bad bounce,” Crawford said to reporters. “There’s nothing I can do about it now.”
Ain’t that the truth. However, there is something Hawks coach Joel Quenneville can do about it: he can sit down with Crawford before tonight’s game versus the Vancouver Canucks and tell him his job is on the line. He can tell him that he needs a big effort against a playoff team like Vancouver and that if he continues to resemble a leaky faucet, he can watch the playoffs from the pine while Emery leads them to the honey hole.