Chicago, IL — It was not that long ago when there was a camp of critic of Corey Crawford. He couldn’t bring a Cup to Chicago, he was not mentally tough enough to handle the Chicago net, maybe we should let Ray Emery start over Crawford as he could not steal games blah blah blah.
Well less than a year later everyone is hoping/praying it is Corey that is in the Chicago net and the tune is much different today than it was. What changed? The critics perceptions, Corey Crawford, his goalie style, maybe a little bit of all of the above.
The Crawford critics have to admit the Crow is developing into a solid goaltender that can keep his team in games until they find their stride and really isn’t that all you can ask a goaltender to do. Corey did stand up to the pressures of Stanley Cup playoff games and it is this writers opinion that he in fact was the most consistent element throughout the playoffs and probably should have won the Conn Smyth trophy.
Even as the national media during the playoffs dissected his play – one game he was weak on the glove side and one game he was vulnerable on the blocker side or maybe he could be beat five hole Crawford played with dignity in the Chicago nets. To hear them tell it the poor Hawks stood no chance in the nets when facing Detroit, Los Angeles and Boston although some of us knew better. Yet somehow it was the unassuming every man’s goalie Crawford that skated away a Stanley Cup Champion.
While the Blackhawks had a record-breaking year in 2012-2013 so did Crawford. Along with Ray Emery winning the William M. Jennings trophy which goes to the goalie tandem that allows the least amount of goals during the regular season is no easy task
Corey Crawford has changed too. Yes his goalie style has changed a bit but it his mental makeup that has really grown. Corey no longer gets rattled when a goal or two or three goes in. He has learned to put it behind him and move on and stay in the moments of games which has paid huge dividends.
The goalie position more than any other on a hockey team demands mental fortitude and Corey Crawford has become on of the staunchest and stingiest goalies in the league. Corey is currently sitting at sixth overall in the NHL for GAA. He is ahead of goalies that are much heralded like Niemi, Quick and Lundqvist. Yet no one is praising him for his net work.
In the all important category of wins he is sitting third in the NHL behind only Ben Bishop of Tampa and Marc Andre Fleury of Pittsburgh for wins for his team and isn’t this the most important thing to get your team a win.
There is now talk that Crawford could be one of the goalies for Team Canada for the Olympics as an American I’m hoping Team USA does not have to face him because he could make the difference of what color medals teams get. Pressure sure but out of all the names that have bandied about if I was to pick which one would stand up to the mental pressures I would take Crawford yes even over Luongo, Smith or Price.
The other thing that is noticeable in Blackhawks’ games is his communication with the defenseman in front of him. There is a trust level that has developed and a camaraderie. How can you not like a goalie that comes to your captains defense when in trouble.
Chicago is a working city that appreciates the working man and hard labor there is arguably no one on the Blackhawks that has paid his dues and gone through tribulations than Corey Crawford. He spent five long years in the AHL and probably didn’t think he would ever get a chance at the NHL but now that he is here he is not resting on his laurels and you have to appreciate that about him. Corey just comes in and does his job without excuses or complaints and you have to respect that.
If not measuring up to elite goalie status, is winning a Jennings trophy, Stanley Cup ring, potential Conn Smyth candidate and possibly representing his hockey powerhouse country in the Olympics well then I’m not sure what constitutes an elite goalie to the critics because I would say all of these accomplishments are elite.
When people say silly things about Crawford and his skills or mental toughness you have to laugh and he should too because not only do they know not of what they speak, you know it will only be a matter of time before he will make them look silly and have them eating crow. For us believers, Crow never tasted so good.