Blackhawks News

Is Corey Crawford an Elite Goaltender?

By Brian Kasnicka
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Jun 1, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar (11) shoots the puck wide of Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford (50) during the first period in game seven of the Western Conference Final of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

We all love to blame the goalie when things go wrong.  We scream at our T.V.’s saying things like, “Come on Crawford, you should’ve had that”,  or “You couldn’t stop a beach ball!”  It’s easy to point the finger at the goalie after a loss, but he’s not always the one to blame.  Poor defensive play also plays a big factor in a goalies’ success and the games’ outcome.  With that in mind, how does one define an elite goalie?  A goalie’s skill alone could make him elite, but the guys in front of him also help define it.  Does Corey Crawford make the elite goalie cut?  In my opinion no he does not.  Now before you stop reading and storm off muttering obscenities, let me tell you why.

First off, sure Crawford has a Stanley Cup under his belt and should’ve had a Con Smythe as well, but Tim Thomas has a Stanley Cup, a Con Smythe, and two Vezina Trophies.  Does that make Thomas an elite goalie?  I don’t think so.  A lot of goalies have had magical playoff runs and won Stanley Cups, but they’re not considered elite.  They’re a flash in the pan and usually don’t put up consistent numbers.

Secondly, look who’s playing defense in front of him.  Two time Norris trophy winner Duncan Keith, Olympians Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson, and Johnny Oduya all make Crawford’s job a whole lot easier.  Guys like Quick, Lundqvist, and Rask all have great defenses in front of them, but those defenses are not comparable to the defense playing in front of Crawford.

Stats below(Wins, Goals against, Save Percentage)

Regular Season                                                                                                                                    Playoffs

2010-2011:  33-18-6, 2.30, .917                                                                                                       2010-2011:  3-4, 2.21, .927

2011-2012:  30-17-7, 2.72, .903                                                                                                       2011-2012:  2-4, 2.58, .893

2012-2013:  19-5-5, 1.94, .926                                                                                                         2012-2013:  16-7, 1.84, .932

2013-2014:  32-16-10, 2.26, .917                                                                                                   2013-2014: 11-8, 2.53, .912

Another question you should ask yourself is, when the game is on the line do you trust and want Crawford in net?  Or would you rather have the likes of Jonathan Quick or Tukka Rask? Now I’m not saying that Crawford is terrible, he’s a terrific goalie, but whenever the puck is in the defensive zone for a while I start to get a little nervous just waiting to see the lamp light up.

You’d be lying to yourself if you would choose Crawford over any of the aforementioned goalies.  Crawford is not an elite goalie in my book, but I’ve only got three goalies I consider to be elite, that is Rask, Quick, and Lundqvist.  For me Crawford falls in the category of goalie just below the elite level, with the likes of Carey Price, Pekka Rinne, and Ryan Miller.

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Remember, this is just my opinion on Corey Crawford.  Until he proves me wrong and takes control of an entire game, and not just a period, he will not be considered an elite goalie by me.  I look forward to hearing your take on my opinion and your opinion on Crawford.  Thanks for reading.

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