Corey Crawford’s Downfall
Even though the Chicago Blackhawks haven’t won a playoff series since 2015, it doesn’t mean Crawford hasn’t played well. The downfall of the Blackhawks started after Crawford got hurt in 2017-18. They were coming off of back-to-back first-round exits from the playoffs.
The Chicago Blackhawks started well before Crawford got injured. Missing the playoffs was something not many people predicted. That first-round loss to the Predators in 2017, via sweep, still haunts the team. Some players change after big losses, and in this instance, it seems like the entire Blackhawks team did.
During the 27 games he started in 2017-18, Crawford went 16-9-2. If he didn’t get injured, the Blackhawks likely would have made the playoffs. Their problem was that they had no backup plan at goalie. Losing Darling in free agency hurt the goalie situation. It was an ugly situation up until this season. Robin Lehner and Crawford are one of the best duos in the NHL.
In 2018-19, the Chicago Blackhawks were already deflated. Again, Crawford would get injured. This time around, the Blackhawks were out of it before it even started. Oddly enough, Cam Ward and Collin Delia would keep the team in playoff contention later on in the year. However, the Blackhawks did miss the playoffs, but it was only by six points.
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Crawford is now 35 and he won’t get better. He is on the downslide of his career. In his defense, he didn’t struggle at all until he got received a concussion in 2017-18. Crawford’s head injury was really bad. He had vertigo which kept him out for about 10 months, and then, had another concussion last season.
With his contract coming up this offseason, it’s safe to say the Chicago Blackhawks won’t be keeping him around at a high price. Crawford will either need to take a pay cut or play somewhere else. Retirement is also another option that he may mull over. Crawford still has those games where he looks great, but it just isn’t happening consistently enough.
Corey Crawford was, by far, the most under-appreciated goalie during the 2010s. The fact that some people still consider him average during that time is crazy. He played lights out hockey during those deep playoff years. If this is Crawford’s last season in Chicago, thank you for everything.