Wednesday night’s Game 2 loss to the L.A. Kings in the Western Conference Finals was a tough one to swallow for Blackhawks fans. We witnessed a total meltdown in the final period of a very important game. After the Blackhawks took and held a two goal lead late into the second period, the Kings squeaked a goal past Corey Crawford with under two minutes to go in the period. Early in the third, the Kings were flying high with momentum from the late period goal and forced the Hawks into two bad penalties which resulted in power play goals on each. The drubbing continued from there, and resulted in a 6-2 loss. With the series now tied at 1 going to Hollywood, all eyes are on Crawford.
Because one of L.A.’s goals was scored with Crawford pulled for an extra skater, only 5 goals were counted as goals against (GA). Including the game Wednesday, Crow has only allowed 5 GA in 3 games this season. The results in the games after the bad games this season by Crawford give me the reason for my near certainty that he will shut L.A. down in Game 3. After giving up 5 goals in a loss to the Minnesota Wild in late October, Crawford allowed only one goal in each of his next three games. Less than a month later, he again gave up 5 goals to the Nashville Predators. Again he bounced back and only allowed the San Jose Sharks to score one goal.
There have been more than a few games in which Crawford has given up 4 goals this season, and despite a few exceptions, he has bounced back pretty well from them. Most notably, during the first round of these playoffs against the St. Louis Blues, he allowed 4 goals in both Games 1 and 2. He then led the Hawks to four straight wins including a Game 3 shutout and a 1 GA effort in Game 6. Not to mention that in round two against the Wild, he allowed 4 goals in Game 4 and then turned around and posted 1 GA efforts in three straight games to close out that series and win Game 1 of the current series.
As we learned in the first round, history repeats itself in sometimes almost creepy ways. Hopefully that continues, and Crawford finds his bounce-back success in Game 3. If it does, expect Crawford’s great goaltending to lead the Blackhawks back into the Stanley Cup Finals for the second straight season.
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