Jun 24, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Chicago Blackhawks goalieCorey Crawford
(50) makes a save against Boston Bruins left wingDaniel Paille
(20) during the third period in game six of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Michael Ivins-USA TODAY Sports
1. Corey Crawford
Out of all the positions in hockey, goaltenders face the most adversity, and out of all the goaltenders in the NHL, Corey Crawford takes the most criticism. Perhaps it is Chicago Blackhawks’ fans long memory, full of poor goaltending, but whatever it is, one thing is for certain: Crawford still has a lot of convincing left to do.
On any other team in the NHL, Crawford would be the saving grace. A Jennings Trophy, Stanley Cup, and what should have been a Conn Smythe are three huge accolades to give to a young goaltender, and Crawford took all those as the Blackhawks’ starting goaltender in 2013. However, many experts and fans alike reckon that Crawford’s best season is behind him.
Historically, Crawford hasn’t been the best goaltender in the league. He experienced a great rookie season in 2010-11, doing all the things you’d expect from a first-year goaltender. He followed it up with a so-so sophomore season in 2011-12 though, and Blackhawks fans worry that he could do the same to his dynamite 2013 campaign.
To his credit, the Blackhawks defense was also as inconsistent as himself, and with the entire core returning for 2013-14, the load will be lessened once again.
Crawford won’t have the help of Ray Emery behind him, who signed with the Philadelphia Flyers after going 17-1 in the regular season. Nikolai Khabibulin will be the support man instead, and it is quite apparent he won’t reach the ridiculously high bar Emery set last season. Crawford will have to perform, or else the Blackhawks’ chances at repeating as Cup champions are slim to none.
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