Updated: May 26, 2014 11:39PM
LOS ANGELES — The familiar derisive chant of “Craw-ford, Craw-ford” continues to ring loudly in opposing arenas. But coach Joel Quenneville isn’t joining them.
Like any goalie in the playoffs, Corey Crawford is a magnet for criticism whenever his team struggles defensively. But even after Crawford allowed nine goals in Games 2 and 3 of the Western Conference final against the Kings, Quenne-ville professed complete faith in him.
The challenge for the Blackhawks was playing better now that they’ve had a full dose of the Kings’ offense, which was 26th in the NHL in the regular season (2.42 goals per game) but is first in the postseason (3.29 goals per game).
“He’s been excellent for us all playoffs,” Quenne-ville said when asked about Crawford before Game 4 on Monday at Staples Center.
“[The Kings have] two lines that are very dangerous offensively. They’ve got a back end that’s pretty active. It’s a good hockey team out there, so let’s make sure that we cut back [on] the quality and quantity [of scoring opportunities].”
Quenneville was adamant that fatigue has not been a factor in the Hawks’ recent struggles.
“None,” he said quickly when asked if he noticed any fatigue from his team. “Not at all. No. I think something like that we would feel it. We would see it. I’m not giving in to that one.”
Pivotal Game 4
With a 2-1 series deficit, how big was Game 4 for the Hawks? Since 2009, they are 7-0 in series that are tied 2-2 (14-0 in games), but only 1-3 when they trail 3-1 in a series (6-3 in games).
“I don’t like to label games,” Patrick Sharp said when asked if Game 4 was a must-win game. “I think every game in the playoffs is a must-win. Certainly 2-2 vs. 3-1 is much better off in our books. We’re going to treat every game we play the rest of the season as a must-win.”
Accentuating the positive
Though they were outplayed in the third period of Games 2 and 3, the Hawks were not concerned that the Kings had their number.
“We felt like we did a lot of great things in the first 40 minutes [of Games 2 and 3], but in the third period, they do something to separate themselves,” Marian Hossa said. “We’re happy with how we play for 40 minutes, but we have to put in a full 60. It seems like we give them some easy goals to score. We just have to make it tougher on them, and we’ll be fine.”