The Chicago Blackhawks lost a disappointing Game 3 against the Minnesota Wild on Sunday afternoon. That loss, which came on the road, saw their series lead shrink from 2-0 to 2-1. But as poorly as they may have played at times during the 3-2 overtime loss, it was not the fault of Corey Crawford.
Crawford has been under a microscope for much of the year, particularly heading into the postseason. He had a very average year last year, followed by a difficult postseason. He didn’t necessarily play bad in last year’s playoffs, but he gave up a pair of soft overtime goals that ended up costing the Hawks.
For most of the regular season this year, Crawford was brilliant. He teamed up with Ray Emery to give the Blackhawks a William Jennings Trophy-winning combo, surrendering the least amount of goals in this shortened season. But while each has been very good this year, there’s never been any doubt as to who the starter is.
Crawford finished the regular season with 19 wins and only five regulation losses. He finished tied for second in the league with a 1.94 goals-against average and a .926 save percentage. After a season in which he failed to record a single shutout, he notched three in 28 starts during the regular season.
It’s safe to say that the success he had during the 2013 regular season has carried over into the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He’s looked fantastic in all three starts, despite his 2-1 record. In his trio of starts so far in the Western Conference Quarterfinals, he’s the proud owner of a 1.81 GAA and .935 save percentage.
Had it not been for Crawford on Sunday, the Blackhawks would have been run out of the Xcel Energy Center by the Minnesota Wild. His 34 saves didn’t come easy and he was the prime reason that this team was able to even remain in the game, let alone make it to overtime.
This is the Crawford that Hawks fans were hoping for last season. Now that he’s got his sophomore slump out of the way, he’s looking like a legitimate goaltender and the man in the future for these Chicago Blackhawks.