Chicago Blackhawks: Reviewing Corey Crawford’s First Game Back

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 18: Corey Crawford #50 of the Chicago Blackhawks follows the action against the Arizona Coyotes at the United Center on October18, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 18: Corey Crawford #50 of the Chicago Blackhawks follows the action against the Arizona Coyotes at the United Center on October18, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Blackhawks lost tonight to the Arizona Coyotes 4 to 1. While the Hawks would’ve liked to get a win, the more important outcome was the performance no. 50 put together in-between the pipes.

Chicago Blackhawks Corey Crawford’s First Game

As we all know, today was Corey Crawford‘s first time in goal for the Hawks since December 23rd, 2017.

We were all worried about how Crawford would look upon his return to the starter’s net, but to be truthful we probably should’ve known our defense better than that. In his first start, Corey looked sharp and made a number of good saves, however oftentimes these saves were made when bailing out his teammates mistakes.

The scoresheet says that Crawford put up a .900 SV% while gave up three goals on 30 shots. While that sounds relatively average, Crow was nothing short of it last night. Take a look another big save he made, this time on a breakaway.

I’m not an expert on goaltending, but it isn’t too hard to find someone on Twitter who is, either.

Cat Silverman is a goaltender and writer for The Athletic (note: she doesn’t play goal for The Athletic, though). Silverman regularly breaks down performances of goaltenders throughout the National Hockey League and took an extended look at Crawford during last night’s game.

In reference to this gif from Cristiano Simonetta, Silverman gave a brief synopsis on Crawford’s performance.

"A lot of people were asking me about Crawford’s lateral movement sharpness and speed, along with his vision agility, during those mysterious practices over the last few weeks. Shot didn’t get through here, but perfect example of how his range of motion + clarity looks normal."

Cat then continued in an article done by Mark Lazerus and Scott Powers, saying:

"“His lateral movement was precise, his rebounds were controlled with precision, and he tracked the pucks into his pads and away from his deflections without any sign that there are any lingering effects from his concussion.”"

All in all, Crawford looked sharp last night. He tracked pucks well and moved smoothly throughout the contest. At one point, Oliver Ekman-Larsson had a dangerous opportunity to score from when he found himself alone near the left face-off circle.

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Crawford, without hesitation, came out to challenge Ekman-Larsson and made a good save on him. It wasn’t anything spectacular, but then again neither was his performance.

The most impressive thing about last night was that it wasn’t impressive at all. This game looked exactly like what it was: an early game in the season between two (projected to be) lower-level teams both trying to establish their footing in the young season.

Crawford looked like the old him last night, and if you didn’t know any better, you would’ve never known that he hadn’t played in an NHL game in 10 months. Not only did he look to be in midseason form, but he had the post game interview to match it as well.

Mark Lazerus of The Athletic talked with Crawford, who was asked if he could see and appreciate the “bigger picture” after last night’s game.

"“I don’t know if there’s a bigger picture than winning hockey games,” Crawford said. “That’s our goal every time we go out there.”"

Crawford looked, sounded and played like he was back to his old self. While that’s great, his play in goal continued to highlight the issues the Chicago Blackhawks have on defense. The Blackhawks allowed fourteen high-danger scoring chances, meaning Crawford had his hands full last night.

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It was amazing to see no. 50 back between the pipes, but it was even better watching him repeatedly rise to the challenge. Hopefully, we’ll get to see this same type of performance capped off with a win sometime this weekend.