The Chicago Blackhawks have hit a rough patch against the Los Angeles Kings, dropping three consecutive games for the first time this postseason. Not so coincidentally, the losing streak has seen the play of Corey Crawford — the single biggest reason Chicago even made it to the Western Conference Finals in the first place — tail off significantly.
Through Game 1 against Los Angeles, Crawford was having an absolutely excellent postseason. His goals against average and save percentage topped the NHL leaderboards, and he was really Chicago’s only true Conn Smythe candidate.
It’s all gone downhill since then. In the last three games, Crawford has faced 82 shots and let 13 of them by him for a .841 save percentage — a number that is almost impossible to win with. A fair degree of blame for this, of course, isn’t actually on Crawford himself; Chicago’s defense has been leaky, especially in the disastrous third period of Game 2 and the entirety of Game 3.
Still, Crawford is no longer making the big saves that he was in the first two rounds against the St. Louis Blues and the Minnesota Wild. This slump is by no means a marker of doom; Crawford has proven himself to be one of the NHL’s premier playoff goaltenders, an exclusive group which includes his opponent Jonathan Quick who went through a dreadful stretch of his own this postseason.
Goalies will not sit atop the proverbial mountain forever. Crawford has had his rough string of games; it is now up to him to rebound in time for the Blackhawks to make this into a series.