After an exciting overtime victory against the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday, Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford tallied win No. 30 for the 2015-16 season. With that 30th win, Crawford has now reached the 30-win mark for the fifth time in his career and has done it in every full NHL season in which he has been the regular starter in Chicago.
Crawford’s numbers this season have been of All-Star and Vezina Trophy caliber. Other than Washington’s Braden Holtby, Crawford is the top goaltender in the league this season in wins, so far. He has reached his 30th win in 44 games played, with a record of 30-12-2. His goals-against average of 2.15 is ninth overall in the NHL and seventh among goaltenders to have played 25 games or more. And his save percentage of .930 is tied for fifth-best in the league and fourth-best among goaltenders to have played 25 games or more.
Crawford in good company
Since the start of the 2010-11 season to the end of the 2014-15 season, and excluding the strike-shortened season in 2012-13, 27 different goaltenders have won 30-plus games in a season. Of those 27 goalies, 17 have done it more than once, and of those 17 goalies, only five have done it in every season. Those five are Crawford, New York’s Henrik Lundqvist, Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury, San Jose’s Antti Niemi (now with Dallas), and Dallas’ Kari Lehtonen.
Over the last six seasons, Crawford has tallied 176 of his 177 career wins, which places him in fourth all time among Chicago Blackhawks goaltenders. He trails third-place Ed Belfour by 34 wins and trails franchise leader Tony Esposito by 241 wins. So it’s safe to say that Esposito’s record is in hand for now, but as for Belfour sitting on the podium for wins, that may only last for another season.
Crawford lacking recognition
Now, with Crawford having a high total of wins and solid GAA and save percentage numbers over the past six seasons, why has Crawford’s trophy case been rather baren?
His first full season in the NHL, 2010-11, Crawford finished fourth in Calder Trophy voting for Rookie of the Year. He garnered just about 26.5 percent of votes, good enough for the best finish of any goalie (finishing behind Crawford were James Reimer, Michal Neuvirth and Sergei Bobrovsky), but not good enough to top forwards Michael Grabner, Logan Couture or winner Jeff Skinner.
In the strike-shortened season of 2012-13, Crawford and teammate Ray Emery would win the William Jennings Trophy as the goalie or goalies who combined to allow the fewest goals in the regular season. Crawford would finish eighth in Vezina voting that season, while backup Emery finished seventh.
Also in that 2012-13 season, Crawford would backstop the Blackhawks to their second Stanley Cup championship in three years. Many felt that Crawford, who went 16-7 in the playoffs with a .932 save percentage and a playoff-best 1.84 GAA, was robbed of the Conn Smythe Trophy for playoffs MVP. It went to Patrick Kane.
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And while 2013-14 would go without any hardware for Crawford, last season would bring another William Jennings Trophy, an All-Star appearance and his second Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks. Crawford would finish that season sixth in Vezina voting.
Now, with Crawford being excluded from the 2016 NHL All-Star Game in Nashville, even though he has a better record, save percentage and GAA than the two goalies who represented the Central Division, Pekka Rinne and Devan Dubnyk, he has himself squarely in the conversation for the Vezina Trophy this season and has the Blackhawks primed for another long spring of hockey.