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Chicago Blackhawks: All Hail Corey Crawford!

By Gail Kauchak
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Dec 6, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford (50) protects the net against the Winnipeg Jets during the second period at United Center. Blackhawks won 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

Remember last year in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs?  The Chicago Blackhawks faced off against the Nashville Predators.  The Hawks ended up winning that series 4 games to 2, but it wasn’t without its share of drama.

In Game 1 of said series, goaltender Corey Crawford was pulled after allowing three goals in the first period.  In Game 2, Crawford gave up 6 goals in a 6-2 loss.  Backup netminder Scott Darling ended up taking the job from Crow for Games 3 and 4 (both wins).  He also suited up for Game 5, which was a 5-2 loss.

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Even with the loss, Coach Quenneville stuck with Darling for Game 6.  It wasn’t until after he had given up three quick goals in the first period (eerily similar to the situation with Crawford in Game 1) that Crow came in as relief for his relief man.  Crawford didn’t yield any more goals, and the Hawks ended up winning the game (4-3), and the series.

At the time, it was pretty much unheard of for a starting goaltender to lose his position in the playoffs.  Yet that’s exactly what happened. Needless to say, after this series Crawford kept his starting gig, and helped lead the Chicago Blackhawks to another Stanley Cup.  But it was a delicate situation that Crawford handled with dignity and aplomb.

At least that’s what fans saw from the outside looking in.  But from Crawford’s point of view, I’ll bet it was one of the most difficult things he ever had to deal with.  I’m sure it haunts him to this day that he could lose his starting gig in a heartbeat.

Which leads us to the present day.  This past Tuesday night, the Chicago Blackhawks had their first 2015-16 season matchup against the Predators.  For Corey Crawford, it was a different season, and a different situation.  But it was the same opponent.  I’m sure he felt he had something to prove.  And prove it he did.

Crow led the way to a 4-1 victory.  He stopped 36 of 37 shots for a .973 save percentage.  He was big and strong in net, and came out to challenge numerous A+ chances by the Predators.  Many times he had to make multiple saves in the same sequence.  But he was focused and up to the task.

Crawford’s efforts earned him the first star of the game.  When asked about him afterwards, Coach Q said, “He was spectacular.”

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Kudos to Crawford for not letting the Nashville Predators get into his head.  He didn’t have the best defense in front of him for this contest, but he stood tall and did his job.  The Chicago Blackhawks face the Preds tonight at Bridgestone Arena.  I’m guessing Crawford will have a chance at a repeat performance.

Go get ‘um, Crow!

Next: The Grass Isn't Green For Brandon Saad

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