All season long, all I heard from fans and even media members was talk of who would start in goal for the Blackhawks come playoff time. No one had any faith in Corey Crawford, who had been splitting time with Ray Emery this season. The tandem was so good that they shared the Jennings trophy this season.
I understood the argument from the standpoint of wanting Emery in because he is a good goalie and had playoff experience. What I didn’t understand was fans and media members not trusting Crawford in a playoff run.
Corey Crawford is 28 years old. In NHL goaltender years, that isn’t very young. However, with the way the Blackhawks raised Crawford he is still a young pup in the goalie world. 2013 was his third full season, if you can call it that, as it was a shortened season due to the lockout. Looking at his stat line in his first two seasons, nothing should jump out at you to say that he wasn’t a good goaltender or didn’t have the potential to improve.
Many young goalies struggle. It is very rare in the sport of hockey for a goalie to come right out of the AHL and dominate. Even the great Ed Belfour struggled at times and had many ups and downs.
Here we are in the Stanley Cup Finals, leading the Bruins 1-0 heading into game 2 and it is safe to say that the Blackhawks won Game 1 because Crawford was a manimal in every overtime period. Yes, I meant to say manimal. Just watch these highlights and come up with another adjective to describe him.
It was the Corey Crawford show in Game 1 as it has been most of the playoffs. As you can find me saying anywhere on Midwaymadness.com, the goalie is only as good as the defense in front of him. Crawford threw that out the window in Game 1. He bailed out his team several times as they have done the same for him early in his career.
Crawford has grown up before our eyes this season, but this postseason he has become a legend before our eyes. I think it is safe to say that Crawford is not only the Blackhawks goalie for years to come, but he is an elite goaltender. Barring some freak incident or accident, Crawford is the lead man to be tending goal for team Canada.
The Blackhawks were patient with Crawford. They raised him the right way giving him time to build his confidence. Now what we have is a very special goaltender in his prime for years to come. If Crawford keeps up his magnificent play, he will be hoisting the Conn Smythe trophy along with the Stanley Cup in a week or so.
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