I have a confession to make.
I may have made some disparaging comments about Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford. I might have said something about him resembling a certain type of ice cream. I might have made some insensitive references to his mental fortitude. I may have suggested coach Joel Quenneville go with backup goalie Ray Emery when the playoffs begin.
But none of this was my fault.
It was Corey’s.
You see he made me say these things by not living up to the potential he is now showing. Had he just played lights out every game this season instead of only the vast majority of them, I would’ve never thought to write what I did. Fortunately Crawford has contacted my people and apologized for being unable to attain perfection, and as a forgiving man, I’ve decided to accept his apology.
So with the slate wiped clean we can sit here on the final evening of the regular season and celebrate what Crawford has been able to accomplish. With Emery hurt, Crawford has of late been forced to play minutes that more closely resemble traditional starting goalies, and the results have been exceptional.
In 30 games this season he’s 19-5-5 with a 1.94 GAA and a .926 save percentage. These are the three main categories that act as a barometer for a goalie’s success, and once you take a closer look at them, the reality is Crawford deserves the Vezina Trophy, which is awarded to the NHL‘s top goaltender.
We’ll start with his 19 wins, which are good for 11th in the league. By itself this ranking is commendable, however it fails to tell the entire story, as Crawford has played thirteen games less than the current leaders in this category. Only Pittsburgh Penguins‘ goalie Marc-Andre Fleury has more wins (23) with a similar number of starts (33). Thus in order to truly make this category relevant, we’re going to employ the points percentage statistic, which is calculated by dividing the points each goalie has accrued divided by the total possible points he might have earned.
If Crawford’s record is 19-5-5, then that means his total possible points is 58 (29 games each worth two points). His record tells us he’s amassed 43 points (19 wins=38 points plus five points for OT losses) and so when we do the math his points percentage is .741.
Now let’s take a look at wins leader and ex-Blackhawk Antti Niemi. Niemi’s record with the San Jose Sharks is 24-12-6 so his total possible point total is 84 (42 games x 2 points). His record gives him 54 points (24 wins=48 points plus six OT loss points) so if you crunch the numbers his points percentage is .642.
You following me here?
I know: my logic can be dizzying at times, but my point is that Crawford is tied with Fleury for tops in the league in that he earns his team points almost 75% of the time he starts as compared to the guys who lead this category who’ve simply started that many more games.
In the Goals Against statistic, the numbers once again veil the actual truth. Crawford is tied for second (with Emery) in this category at 1.94 behind the Ottawa Senators’ Craig Anderson (1.69). What isn’t mentioned, however, is that Crawford has played 340 more minutes! That’s six and two-thirds games! If Anderson plays the same minutes, it’s safe to say his GAA would hardly be so gaudy, and Crawford would almost certainly lead the league.
Finally there’s Save Percentage. In this category, Crawford is tied for fifth with the New York Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist. Crawford hasn’t faced as many shots as some of the other leaders in this category, but he can hardly be blamed for having such excellent defensemen in front of him. Perhaps if he’d faced more shots his percentage might be higher, but top five in this category is more than respectable.
The truth is, Crawford’s been the best part of the best defense in the league this year, and if the voters would just listen to me I think the Vezina would be his for the taking.
After all, I’ve been saying this all season.