The past few outings for Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford have been shaky to say the least. Now, not every goal in the series is Crawford’s fault. The Blackhawks have not been able to clear the net well in this series, causing redirects and bad bounces that have gotten by the Blackhawks’ netminder. Despite the recent struggles, Crawford still posts a .917 save percentage and 2.38 goals against average in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Crawford, along with the many of the current Blackhawks, has been in this position before. Last season the Blackhawks were down three games to one to the Detroit Red Wings. After struggling in Games 2, 3 and 4, Crawford was able to rebound in Games 5 and 6. This game is do or die, and the Blackhawks need Crawford to step up and make saves to keep them in the game. The Blackhawks cannot afford to stumble in the second period anymore. Solid defensive play and goaltending will determine if the Blackhawks season will be continued.
This Blackhawks team has stood in front of their goaltender time after time. Players like Niklas Hjalmarsson and Brent Seabrook will need to sacrifice their bodies and block shots so the job is easier on Crawford. One glaring weakness in Crawford’s game has been his glove side. If he can focus on catching the puck in his glove, the Blackhawks will be in a good position. If not, Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter will capitalize like they have all series long and the Blackhawks will be headed home early. Crawford needs to take a deep breath, calm down, and go out there and goaltend like he is capable of. The Blackhawks are relying on him to make the key saves to force the pivotal Game 7 back in Chicago.