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Blackhawks’ Corey Crawford searching for consistency

Corey Crawford

Corey Crawford

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Updated: January 8, 2014 6:13AM

Coach Joel Quenneville didn’t mince words after a come-from-behind, then come-from-ahead loss to the Dallas Stars on Thursday night. Corey Crawford had yielded eight goals on just 41 shots over two games, and while he was hardly the sole reason for the two losses, he wasn’t exactly stealing victories for the Blackhawks, either.

“He’s got to be better,” Quenneville said.

Crawford, so good and so consistent last season, has had an up-and-down first half in 2013-14. His numbers are average — he has a healthy 17-6-3 record but a middling 2.50 goals-against average and .906 save percentage — but he’s been brilliant at times, and ordinary at others. He was outstanding for much of October, allowing one or two goals in eight of nine appearances at one point, and even better at the tail end of the circus trip, allowing one goal in three consecutive starts.

But he struggled in early November, at one point allowing 13 goals in less than seven periods, and has had two rough outings in a row.

“He had two really good stretches,” Quenneville said. “That road trip and the start of the year. It’s finding that consistency. That’s what we’re looking for.”

Crawford has played a heavy schedule, including 15 in a row during the now-injured Nikolai Khabibulin’s struggles. Antti Raanta’s strong play should ease that burden. But Crawford has repeatedly insisted he’s fine physically, and Quenneville didn’t think the workload was anything Crawford couldn’t handle.

“I don’t know if he’s played that much more than other years,” he said. “We’ll see how it all plays out as the season goes along, but the thought process initially was he’d play in that 60-[game] range.”

The whole team is likely feeling the brutal schedule of late. The Hawks are in the midst of a stretch of 19 games in 34 days, including 12 on the road. And they have another week and a half until the schedule finally relents a bit.

“We’re definitely at the high point of the season in the volume of games,” Quenneville said.

“It’s rolling one into the next. We want to make sure we still keep the right focus going into the game, having a purpose and bringing the importance of every shift. … Don’t look for excuses. It’s a tough league and [there are] tough challenges along the way. Find a way, is what it’s all about — being a good pro.”

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