Over the Olympic break, I’ll be doing daily reviews of Chicago Blackhawks players and grading them based on their seasons to date. Today we examine Corey Crawford.
The season can be neatly divided into two sections for Crawford with the separation between the two occurring on Dec. 8, 2013, when he suffered a lower-body injury in a game against the Florida Panthers. Prior to getting hurt, it had been a decidedly average campaign for Crawford — his stats were down and he had been letting in a few too many questionable goals. After returning on Jan. 2, however, Crawford has played identically to the near Vezina-caliber goaltender he was last season.
Among all NHL goalies, Crawford’s .916 save percentage is merely in the middle of the pack, but the number has been steadily trending upward ever since the aforementioned return from injury. His best games of the year have come in the past several weeks, including a valiant effort against the Montreal Canadiens on Jan. 11 and a shutout on the road against the league-leading Anaheim Ducks. Crawford has yielded two goals or less in eight of the last ten games that he has participated in and has clearly solved whatever issues were plaguing his game early in the year. He may simply have needed time to get used to the NHL‘s added restrictions on goaltender equipment size which were instituted at the beginning of the season. Whatever the case, Crawford appears to be fully back into form.
Final Verdict: B. Crawford has recovered from an early-season stupor and is playing his best hockey of the year.