In possibly the easiest decision in recent memory, Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford was named the NHL’s first star for last week
In a nice change of pace, the love for Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford keeps on rolling. Today, he was named the NHL’s first star of the week after posting two shutout victories and keeping his team close in last night’s 2-0 loss to Montreal.
Crow beat out the New York Islanders’ Josh Bailey and San Jose’s Martin Jones for the top honor. He did so by posting a .979 save percentage and 0.68 goals-allowed average as the Blackhawks topped Philadelphia 3-0 and Minnesota 2-0 before last night’s defeat.
Crow is essentially dragging the Blackhawks to respectability at this point. His face is currently on the NHL.com leaders page for save percentage, with a .945 mark in 13 appearances. He leads all regular starters in both save percentage and goals-allowed average and is tied for top in the league in shutouts.
Meanwhile, Patrick Kane is tied for 31st in the league in points with 14, and that’s Chicago’s best total right now. The Blackhawks are managing 2.87 goals per game, and that number is being heavily propped up by the opening night 10-goal barrage against Pittsburgh.
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And still, the Blackhawks have a goal differential of plus-7, easily the best among current non-playoff teams. That figure is actually better than that of nine current playoff teams. The Blackhawks can thank their starting goaltender for that one.
Where can Crow go from here?
This is the less fortunate side of the good news. There’s almost no way Crow can sustain this level of success. His career save percentage is .919, and his career high for a season is the .926 mark he set with the 2013 Stanley Cup-winning team.
The only problem is, the Blackhawks clearly need Crow to be saving about 94.5 percent of the shots he faces. The team can’t score, puck possession is a nightly struggle and the defense is a sieve. It all adds up to a team needing its goalie to go above and beyond.
Crow has done that so far. And maybe he can have some sort of Jake Arrieta-like season where he just never messes up. That’d be incredible to watch. But don’t count on it, as the law of averages almost always finds its way into sports.
To indicate just how dire things are for the Blackhawks at this point, coach Joel Quenneville is essentially chasing points in early November. I get that Crow had never lost in regulation against the Habs heading into Sunday’s game, but that’s still often a situation for the backup to start, coming off a game the night before.
Yet there was Crow, leading his team onto the ice. Sure, he only faced 24 shots against Minnesota the night before, but a night of work is a night of work. The Blackhawks know they need their best player on the ice more often than not. It’s just odd to see it play out that way this early in the year.
It would behoove the Blackhawks to earn as many points as they can while Crow is as hot as he is. He won’t always make the game look as easy as he is right now.