Corey Crawford bounces back, as mates expected
BY MARK LAZERUS firstname.lastname@example.org June 22, 2013 11:44PM
CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 22: Michal Handzus #26 of the Chicago Blackhawks checks Chris Kelly #23 of the Boston Bruins in Game Five of the 2013 NHL Stanley Cup Final at United Center on June 22, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Updated: July 24, 2013 7:04AM
Corey Crawford’s breakout season has been marked not by the saves he has made, but by the ones he hasn’t made — and how he has responded to them. There was the early-season game at San Jose when he gave up three early goals and shut the door when Joel Quenneville decided not to pull him. There was the first game of the playoffs when he gave up a soft goal to the Minnesota Wild on the first shot he faced before putting together a spectacular series. And there was the postseason-defining Game 6 in Detroit when he gave up a bad goal in the second period but stood strong after that.
So maybe it shouldn’t be such a surprise that Crawford was at his best in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final after surrendering five goals in the Blackhawks’ 6-5 Game 4 victory in Boston.
“I knew he was going to come back huge,” defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson said after Crawford made 24 saves in the Hawks’ 3-1 victory Saturday night. “I’ve been playing with him since the minors, and I know how he responds.”
Crawford said he tuned out all that talk about his suddenly vulnerable glove side — three of Boston’s goals in Game 4 came on that side — and wasn’t out to prove anyone wrong in Game 5.
“I’m not listening to it,” he said. “Got a job to do. Whatever’s being said’s not going to affect what I do.”
Of course, just as Crawford shouldn’t have received all the blame for Game 4, he doesn’t get all the credit for Game 5, either. The Hawks’ defense was much sharper, blocking 17 shots and playing a tighter game, with plenty of help from backchecking forwards.
“It was an overall bad defensive game last game; it wasn’t just him,” Hjalmarsson said.
Said Crawford: “I think it was a big effort by everyone to come back, play defensively, block shots, sacrifice our bodies to block those pucks and quickly get on offense.”
Crawford was gratified by how his teammates rallied to his side during the two long days off between games, repeatedly saying how much confidence they had in their third-year starter. And the Hawks were glad to see Crawford back it up.
“He’s been our best player all playoffs,” Andrew Shaw said.