Throughout the season, Corey Crawford has been a pleasant surprise for the Chicago Blackhawks. He recovered from a disappointing sophomore season to bring the William M. Jennings Trophy to Chicago, along with Ray Emery. He made key saves at key times and often found himself on the highlight reel the next morning with a couple of clutch stops on the league’s elite scorers.
This continued into the playoffs, where Crawford was among the league leaders in save percentage, and led post-season goaltenders in GAA. Crawford is looking poised to take home the Conn Smythe if the Blackhawks indeed win the Cup this season.
During the Blackhawks’ 2-0 game three loss, Crawford looked like the only player that really cared at some points in the game. The Blackhawks looked drained, but Crow was there making sure the two-goal deficit didn’t get any bigger. He turned aside five more shots than the Blackhawks took at the Boston net. Among the displeasure in the dressing room and media after the game, he was the lone bright spot.
Flash forward to Wednesday night. The Blackhawks pull through and even the series with a 6-5 overtime win. The offense that went M.I.A. in game three finally returned, with big players such as Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, and Patrick Sharp getting on the score sheet.
This win could have been a lot easier however, if Crawford played a better game. Five Bruins goals should not have happened, and it wouldn’t have if #50 had a better game between the pipes, and the Blackhawks could have dominated, and sent a message to the Bruins and their fans. Instead, Brent Seabrook had to solve it for them in overtime, and without a regulation win, fans get the impression that the Hawks are just barely hanging on, which is contrary to the truth.
Tuukka Rask let in 6 goals, but the focus is still on the Blackhawks goaltender, which is more than unfair. Rask should be under a lot more pressure from the media, after leading both post-season GAA and SV%, and letting in half a dozen goals. He is known to be incredibly calm in the net but the Blackhawks unraveled him in game four and he will have to be the Bruins best player in order for them to steal one from the Blackhawks in game five.
Crawford did a complete 180 in between games three and four, and the Blackhawks are going to need something more from him in the best-of-three series that this Stanley Cup Final has become. Fans hope that the home crowd on Saturday, combined with the opportunity to take the Bruins back to Boston for a must-win, is enough to straighten the ship, and keep Crow cool for the rest of the series.
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