With his 30th win, Corey Crawford is one confident goalie
BY ADAM L. JAHNS firstname.lastname@example.org April 7, 2012 7:50PM
Chicago Blackhawks v Detroit Red Wings
Updated: May 9, 2012 9:55AM
DETROIT — Few players will be scrutinized more in the coming days with the postseason on the horizon than Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford.
Some will say he’s the reason why the Hawks can’t win the Stanley Cup. All season, Crawford has had to deal with questions about his play and his confidence in his up-and-down sophomore campaign.
That didn’t change when the regular season concluded Saturday in Detroit, but maybe it should after Crawford turned away three Red Wings in a shootout for a 3-2 victory at Joe Louis Arena.
“I haven’t questioned my confidence all year,” said Crawford, who hit 30 wins for the second consecutive season. “I’m really confident. No matter what has happened, I’ve been able to stay pretty even-keel. Now, whatever has happened in the regular season, we’ve got to look forward to the playoffs.”
The Hawks are the only team that didn’t record a shutout. That stat, though, meant much more weeks ago when the Hawks played poor defensively and Crawford failed to come through with timely saves. It’s lost some luster because the Hawks and Crawford have been better.
Since taking a backseat to veteran Ray Emery for a five-game stretch early in March, Crawford has shined. For all his struggles, Crawford has gone 8-1-2 in his last 11 appearances, allowing just one goal in five of those games and having a .920 save percentage and 1.82 goals-against average.
Crawford also has shaken off bad losses and soft goals. Earlier in the season, he said that he was thinking too much about goals he should have stopped, and consequently, it made matters worse.
Against the Red Wings on Saturday, Crawford let in a goal to Johan Franzen from a bad angle to lose his shutout. Although Crawford later allowed the game-tying goal to Pavel Datsyuk with 46.4 seconds left on a nice feed from Tomas Holmstrom, he also made some tough stops, including consecutive ones on Gustav Nyquist and Henrik Zetterberg after Franzen’s goal. The Red Wings could have easily tied it much earlier than they did.
What’s working well for him right now?
“I’m not as aggressive,” Crawford said. “I’m staying back a little bit more and picking my times to be aggressive. I’m gaining a feel for when to move out and when to stay back and be able to play the backside plays.”
Crawford outplayed Vancouver Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo last season in the first round of the playoffs, and the Hawks don’t see any reason why he can’t catch fire like that again.
“He’s playing really good,” forward Patrick Kane said. “It would have been nice to get him a shutout. He hasn’t had one all year. But still, it’s nice to see him playing well, especially this back half of the year, when you kind of needed him to step up. He’s a big part of our team and our go-to guy right now.”