When you look back at the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs the player that should have won the Conn Smythe trophy was Corey Crawford. The problem for Crawford is that in Game #4 (a game that the Chicago Blackhawks won in overtime), the Boston Bruins exposed Crawford’s glove side time after time and it was the same time that Patrick Kane was red hot, and so in the end one game cost Crawford the trophy but not the Stanley Cup.
Flashforward to this season and the Chicago Blackhawks are now without their offensive wizard Patrick Kane, yet the Blackhawks have not given up their quest for a Stanley Cup. This season has been a very inconsistent year for the Chicago Blackhawks offense, it seems they can score in bunches or not score at all having been shut out a mind blowing 8 times this season. This is a team that went almost 2 calendar years back in 2010-11 without being shut out once. So to say the Blackhawks are going to easily go out and win 6-4 hockey games isn’t the case, they can still do it but not with the kind of regularity that they have in seasons past, especially without Patrick Kane in the lineup for at least the first two rounds of the playoffs.
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Now let’s look at Corey Crawford who Monday night won his 30th game of the season for the 4th time in 5 years as the Chicago Blackhawks #1 goalie, and the only season he didn’t win 30 was in the strike shortened season which he went only 19-5-5 sharing the net with the red hot Ray Emery. Crawford this season is 30-15-5 with a .926 Save Percentage and a 2.19 Goals Against Average with 2 shutouts.
If the Blackhawks offense has been inconsistent, the one consistent thing you can say about the team has been the play of the #1 goalie. If you throw out the month after he returned from his famous concert incident (where he did struggle) Crawford has been a rock in between the pipes for the Hawks, and games like Monday night’s where he was getting shots fired at him from every angle, it was Crawford denying all but one shot on the way to another Chicago Blackhawks victory.
The Blackhawks are more of defensive team than ever before this season. Meaning they have always played great defense, but they also could be aggressive because there were going to be at least 3-5 goals scored a night, but his season the defense has been in lock down with Corey Crawford the last line of defense.
With the playoffs in sight this may be the season that it’s Crawford and not Toews/Kane carrying the load to a possible 3rd Stanley Cup of this era. Crawford has been doing the heavy lifting for most of the year now, the question is will be be able to carry them to 16 wins in April, May, and June!!
What do you think? Many like to complain about Crawford, but do you think he can carry the Hawks to the promised land?
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