And here we have a very majestic looking Corey Crawford.
The Chicago Blackhawks entered into these Stanley Cup Playoffs in the same way that we saw them enter into this regular season. And into last year’s regular season, before last year’s playoffs. With questions about their goaltending. Safe to say that those questions have become answers.
Corey Crawford has had no shortage of critics in his time with the Hawks. Taking the reigns from Stanley Cup-winning Antti Niemi (technically it was Marty Turco), Crawford has had large expectations to live up to for an organization that hasn’t been used to solid goaltending in the past several years.
It’s safe to say that Crawford has put an end to that. Crawford and Ray Emery combined to give the Blackhawks a Jennings Trophy combination between the pipes, allowing the least amount of goals in the league during the regular season. Had he been given a few more starts, we very well may have seen Corey Crawford in the mix for the Vezina Trophy.
But simply because he had a brilliant regular season doesn’t mean that Crawford came into those same questions swirling around him. In fact, they probably increased. Even with a 19-5-5 record, three shutouts, and a 1.94 GAA, Crawford’s endless supply of critics continued to ask whether or not the Hawks could be successful in the postseason with Crawford.
At this point in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, it’s probably safe to say that if it weren’t for Crawford, the Hawks could very well be golfing right now. He’s been nothing short of phenomenal in these playoffs. He didn’t have to be so brilliant in the first round, but when the Blackhawks needed him in Round 2 against the Detroit Red Wings, he was there stepping up in a big way.
Yes, there was that one major flub. He surrendered that soft goal on a knucklepuck in the second period of Game 6. Many thought that would end the Hawks season. But Crawford stood tall for the remainder of the game, coming up huge in the third period, while the Hawks scored enough to even up the series.
So far in these playoffs, Crawford has a 1.70 GAA and a .938 save percentage, with one shutout, which came back in the first round. He’s done much of what he did during the regular season. He’s come up with the big saves when the Hawks have needed him to, and has kept them in games that they’ve had no business winning (See: Game 2 vs. Detroit).
As these playoffs continue, Corey Crawford is seeing his amount of critics begin to dwindle. Now the real task begins. Heading into the Western Conference Finals, he’ll have to match up against one of the league’s best in Jonathan Quick. No one is expecting him to perform at the same level as last year’s Conn Smythe winner. But Crawford has been surprising us all year. Does he have another surprise in him?
We’ll see this weekend.