Corey Crawford was the single player to keep the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 6 against the St. Louis Blues. Crawford was the player to truly catch fire starting early in this series in Game 1. After falling behind in the series 2-0 via two overtime games, Chicago battled back and won the next four games to win the series 4-2.
Crawford has to be the player of the series for Chicago and was well deserving of his first star win in Game 6. Crawford let up just one goal to USA Olympic hero T.J. Oshie. In the second period, it was Crawford who allowed the Blackhawks the time to really have their sticks catch fire. In the second, the Blues absolutely had the momentum coming off of Oshie’s goal at 16:28 in the first period. Crawford made an astounding 17 saves during the second period alone, where his counterpart Ryan Miller had to make only three.
If Crawford continues to play at this rate throughout the remainder of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Blackhawks have got to be considered as the main contender from the Western Conference to advance to the finals. It will certainly be interesting to see how the Blackhawks are able to deal with a team like the Colorado Avalanche if they are to advance to the next round because of players like Nathan MacKinnon. Colorado is a team that will give the Blackhawks a world of trouble, because they are so quick and play with such intensity. Patrick Roy is a coach willing to take a lot of risks, because he has ultimate faith in goaltender Semyon Varlamov. Does Joel Qunnenville have that same faith in Corey Crawford? If you asked him three weeks ago, the answer would surely have been a resounding “no”. After this series against the Blues, though, Quennenville has got to believe in the goaltender who brought a Stanley Cup to the Windy City just a season ago.
If Crawford maintains this level of play, the only team that could possibly beat Chicago out of the West is the San Jose Sharks — and that is only if (and it’s a massive if) the Sharks’ man between the pipes, Antti Niemi, plays up to his own potential. Crawford is the key to a second straight Stanley Cup and the start of a dynasty for the Blackhawks.