It had been a month coming, but Corey Crawford finally made a start for the Chicago Blackhawks against the New York Islanders. The good news is that the Hawks’ star goalie is back. The bad news was that the team lost. The Islanders are a bottom-dwelling team — albeit one that was on a roll last night — but they jumped out to a two-goal lead on the Hawks, taking advantage of mistakes that should not have been made in the first place. The good news is that Crawford is still the same goalie he was before the groin injury.
In essence, this article is grading the team’s performance, not Crawford’s. The Islanders attacked Crawford as much as they could, hoping to see if Crawford would break. The only way the Islanders could get past Crawford was by the mistakes of his teammates, which cost the Hawks multiple times. But he made 31 saves, including one that had him sprawling on his backside. It’s obvious that his form has not been affected.
In fact, much of the problem was the way the Hawks themselves played. The two goals they surrendered could have been easily avoided if they didn’t make obvious mistakes. The second goal would have been avoided had the Hawks not tried to make a change in their offensive zone. Bryan Bickell is certainly to blame, but it’s not entirely his fault. The game-winning goal by Kyle Okposo could have been easily avoided as well.
While some pundits might take a rather vindictive and vitriolic conclusion from this game, the fact of the matter is the Blackhawks could have easily won had they not made so many mistakes. There are so many things to take away from this game — a lost opportunity to beat a struggling team, a chance to give Crawford a win in his comeback — that it’s easy to miss that Crawford did his job to keep the Hawks in the game and got them the vital point. It’s a glass half-full outlook that’s going to come in handy as the season goes on.