Every year around playoff time, people of the hockey world and Blackhawks fans alike tend to get this unstable idea that the Hawks are weak in the net minder position. But why is this the notion that so many have? Corey Crawford has been one of the most consistent goaltenders over the past four postseasons. He has posted an average of .916 Sv% and a 2.29 GAA during that time including a record of 32-23 overall. All of these things are very respectable numbers.
There is no doubt that over the past few seasons, Corey Crawford has dealt with an abundance of criticism that, at times, got into his head. However, he has also proven that he can push through that adversity and take his team to the high road.
For example, in the 2013 Stanley Cup Finals, neither goaltenders (Tuukka Rask and Corey Crawford) were playing at their full potential. But after game four, all the media was focusing on was Corey Crawford’s glove hand. They weren’t saying anything about how Rask let in more goals, or how the Hawks won the game six to five, it was all about how the Hawks goalie let in all five goals on the glove side.
After game four, he responded to the questions that were asked referring to his left side.
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“Last series they were talking about my blocker,” said Crawford. “Both sides are bad, I guess.”
He knew that he had some things to work on, and the media didn’t phase him. But the most important thing to do in a series is to not over-think, as Crawford explains:
“[I] have a short memory. There were obviously some goals I wasn’t too happy with. I’m never happy with any goals, but a couple more than the others,” he said. “I don’t know if there’s an adjustment to make. Just go out there, read and react.”
What did Crawford do the next game? He stopped 24 of 25 shots and led them to a victory, and ultimately, the Stanley Cup two days later.
Far too often when people discuss the “best goalies in the league,” big names like Ryan Miller, Pekka Rinne, and Henrik Lundqvist are mentioned, but never Corey Crawford. The other three arguably have more raw talent and possibly more skill than Crawford does, but none of them have a Stanley Cup ring. After all, that is all that should really matter when it comes to the NHL. Miller, Lundqvist, Rinne and many other goalies always seem to fall just short of the end goal. Excellent regular season play is important to get you into the playoffs, but they don’t make parades happen.
Speaking of parades, how do you think Stan Bowman and the front office did handling the goalie situation after the Hawks won the cup in 2010? Annti Niemi was the Blackhawks savior that year, after Christobal Huet decided to stop making saves halfway through the season. Most people were doubting the decision to let Niemi go, but how has he performed since then?
Stanley Cup Playoffs 2011-2014
W-L GAA SO Sv%
Antti Niemi 19-16 2.88 2 .906
Corey Crawford 32-23 2.29 3 .916
As you can see, it seems as though the front office made the right decision on which goalie they would decide to go with and count on throughout the following seasons. Niemi is another goalie that just cant seem to stay consistent or be a leader for his team. He did his job in 2010, but has struggled to do so since then. The Hawks have moved on to a player that is a better fit in their system, and it is paying off.
For whatever reason, Corey Crawford has never really received the appreciation he deserves. Crawford has proven that he has what it takes to put the team on his back and carry them to victory. He is consistent, shows up in the most important games, and always seems to be there when his team needs him. He may not be the best goalie in the league, but he steps up when it matters most. He definitely deserves more credit than he gets.