Corey Crawford doesn’t have to prove for another season that he’s one of the best NHL goaltenders.
He’s already proven it.
Now it’s time for Crawford to prove that there aren’t very many better goaltenders than he is as the Chicago Blackhawks chase after another Stanley Cup.
Crawford has only had three full seasons in the NHL. His third one wasn’t exactly a full season, considering it was shortened from the players lockout. He was criticized for his performances in the last two Stanley Cup playoffs until then, however. Then he demonstrated why he has to be considered as one of the best netminders on the planet.
It took him three seasons, but Crawford finally figured that a goaltender needs to stand on his head in the Stanley Cup playoffs compared to the regular season. He was 33-18-6 for the 2010-11 regular season with a 2.30 goals against average. But his record was 3-4-1 in the playoffs despite a 2.21 GAA and .927 saves percentage.
Crawford was criticized for the 2011-12 season despite a 30-17 record and 2.72 GAA. He was 2-4 in the playoffs. It showed he couldn’t win when it mattered, his critics argued.
That’s why last season’s 16-7 record for Crawford in the playoffs was one for the ages. He had given indication during the shortened regular season that with a 1.94 GAA and 19-5 record, he had improved his game by several notches.
His 1.84 GAA in the playoffs verified Crawford’s greatness.
It’s a long way from now to June, but many in the NHL expect Crawford to lead the Blackhawks to another title. It would be a shock if it doesn’t happen.