Chicago Blackhawks Corey Crawford Needs To Be Conn Smythe Worthy
By Keith Schultz
The 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs begin tomorrow night for the Chicago Blackhawks, and if they want to be playing into June, they will need the best from Corey Crawford this playoff season.
It was this time two years ago that the Nashville Predators in Game #1 of the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs stormed to a 3-0 lead in the first period on home ice. You can almost still hear the fans jeering Corey Crawford inside of Bridgestone Arena.
Scott Darling came in to save every shot he saw that night that lasted 3 overtimes, and the Hawks went on to take a 3-2 series lead behind the Lemont Native.
In Game #6 of that series the Preds again scored 3 times, and this time Darling got pulled in favor of #50, and Crawford went on to save the rest in that game. The Hawks won the series, and Crawford never was taken out again in the 2015 Stanley Cup playoffs, and in the end he was there hoisting the Stanley Cup after shutting out the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game #6 of the Final.
If you flash forward to this season, it’s seems like another year that has the same beginning, middle, and end. For the past few years, Corey Crawford has started the season on fire, and looked like a legit Vezina Trophy candidate for most of the first half of the season.
Then of course is the weird injury that happens in the middle part of the year. This year he had an appendectomy procedure done that put him on the sidelines for a couple of weeks, and in year’s past he’s gotten hurt at a concert or pulled a groin.
When Crawford plays in the 2nd half of the season, he still wins games, but like this year the offense had finally gelled and so Crawford got away with some real iffy games instead of being really sharp.
Well, for me the biggest key to the Chicago Blackhawks advancing far in this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs is the play of Corey Crawford. Why you ask, because the Chicago Blackhawks have a ton of youth in the lineup from Nick Schmaltz, Tanner Kero, John Hayden, and Ryan Hartman all of whom will not being playing their best hockey if they are worried about what’s going on in between the pipes with Crawford.
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The other reason the Hawks will need him at his best is that even with the addition of Johnny Oduya on the blue line, the Chicago Blackhawks are a few years older than in 2015 so they may be a half a step slower which leads to needing better play out of Crawford this year in the playoffs.
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Goalies have been known for decades to be able to steal games and series in the playoffs, just look at what Mike Smith did to the Hawks in 2012. Unlike previous year Cup runs when Crawford just had to stop the shots he needed to stop for the Hawks to win, the Hawks need Crawford on his game from the opening face-off tomorrow night in Nashville.
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So that’s why i say if the Hawks win the Stanley Cup this year, Corey Crawford needs to be the Conn Smythe Winner.