The Chicago Blackhawks‘ big name stars have gotten plenty of press for their play in the first round against the St. Louis Blues, and much of it is deserved. Jonathan Toews was brilliant, scoring three game-winning goals in the series, and Patrick Kane put on one of the more dominant individual performances of the season in Game 4. Somewhat lost in the celebration of these Blackhawk stars has been the ever-consistent and dependable Corey Crawford and his immense impact on the series against St. Louis.
If Crawford was not Chicago’s MVP in Round 1, then he at least earned a share of the honor. He boasts a .935 save percentage through six games in the 2013-14 postseason to go with a 1.98 goals against average — numbers which strongly resemble the Conn Smythe worthy stat line he posted last spring en route to a Stanley Cup victory.
Crawford is one of the most under-appreciated top performers in the NHL. His nearly spotless playoff run last year was dirtied by a media-driven obsession with a (perceived) weak glove hand after a game in which he gave up five goals to the Boston Bruins (conversely, little was said about Tuukka Rask, who allowed six goals in the same game). In the past two postseasons, Crawford has outperformed each of Rask, Jonathan Quick, Jimmy Howard and Ryan Miller, yet he continues to possess the bizarre label of “average” or “below average” in the eyes of the everyday hockey fan.
Needless to say, Crawford has been a definitive step above “average” for quite some time. If he and the Blackhawks can keep winning championships, I imagine he won’t particularly mind not being given his due credit from the masses.