With the season now finished, I’ll be reviewing the individual performances of Chicago Blackhawks players and giving out grades based on their play during the 2013-14 season. In this article, I’ll take a look at Corey Crawford.
Crawford’s regular season went relatively well; despite the Blackhawks having perhaps the most questionable defensive play of all playoff teams, he put up a respectable .917 save percentage and 2.26 goals against average in 59 games. His season was interrupted by a lower-body injury that caused him to miss most of December, but Crawford’s play remained consistent before and after the extended absence from the lineup.
The playoffs were a mixed bag for No. 50. Crawford was excellent in each of Chicago’s first two playoff series, almost single-handedly winning several games against the St. Louis Blues and Minnesota Wild. Game 3 against the Blues and Game 6 against the Wild stand out in particular; if not for Crawford’s performance in the former, the Blackhawks very likely lose both Game 3 and the series against St. Louis. Crawford was undeniably the team’s best Conn Smythe candidate through the first two rounds of the playoffs.
Things took a turn for the worst against the Los Angeles Kings. Crawford’s pristine numbers through Round 1 and Round 2 took a huge dive against the Kings, and he let in four or more goals in four of the last five games of the series. To be fair, a number of Los Angeles’ goals were off of flukey bounces and odd man rushes, but Crawford just wasn’t making the saves that he typically does. Chicago’s aforementioned leaky defense didn’t help matters, but it was still a rough series in net.
Overall, one has to keep in mind that the Blackhawks wouldn’t have even gotten to play the Kings if not for Crawford’s brilliance earlier in the playoffs. He met expectations this year, earning him a B-.