Hawk Talk: Crawford kept his cool, battled for win

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Hawk Talk: Crawford kept his cool, battled for win

Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2010
4:57 PM

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford wasn't sure how he did it, really.

Following his first victory of the season against Buffalo on Monday, a game that certainly didn't look like it would end up in the Blackhawks' favor at the start, the backup netminder was asked how he settled himself down after getting down 2-0 within the first three minutes.

"I don't know," he said. "I just kept battling and just tried to keep playing my game."

Why did battling work for Crawford? Because he's had to do it so much over these past few seasons, that's why. He's gone through a few "auditions" to be one of the Blackhawks' two goaltenders, but he kept coming up just short. So he kept working, improving. Battling. And this season, Crawford earned that spot that had eluded him the past few seasons.

So he had a choice. He could've caved under the pressure of an early deficit (despite the fact that he wasn't the only problem through those first few minutes. His fellow Blackhawk teammates all looked like they were still operating on CST) or he could take a deep breath and remember why he was here.

Because he earned it.

Crawford got solid. He squared up. He kept his game simple. Basically, he did everything he said he wanted to do at that morning's skate and it worked. And 32 stops later, Crawford was collecting victory No. 1 as Blackhawks goalie No. 2.

Now keep in mind that Crawford nearly didn't get the chance to regroup, at least in this game. Coach Joel Quenneville admitted that the Blackhawks' rocky start nearly prompted him to take a time out to calm his team down and he also thought about pulling Crawford. In watching the first few minutes, I wouldn't have blamed Quenneville for doing eitherboth. In hindsight, it was a great decision to do nothing.

Crawford needed to work through that, because bad days, bad periods, bad goals are going to happen. It's the nature of the job. Now if things would've gotten worse, if the Sabres goals would've kept coming, then the early yank may have been unavoidable.

But he didn't get worse, he got better. He allowed only one more the rest of the way and made some big stops down the stretch, especially in that final minute when the Sabres were on a 6 on 4 (empty net and Blackhawks delay of game).

Maybe we shouldn't have been surprised by Crawford's rebound on Monday night. He's had the try-try-again mentality his entire young career in the Blackhawks' organization and it really paid off this season.

Yes, Monday was just one game, but it led to great results for all involved. The Blackhawks got their first victory of the season. Crawford got his first victory of the year and, you would think, a big boost of confidence. The tests will keep coming for Crawford, who will probably play at least 20-25 games this season.

So far, so good.

Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.

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The Blackhawks’ starts have been all over the map this season but their finishes have usually been strong. That was the case again on Sunday night as the Blackhawks took a lead, lost a lead and regained a lead for good in their 4-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks.

This one featured a little bit of everything. So let’s just get to the Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ victory over Vancouver.

1. Jonathan Toews breaks through. If the Blackhawks captain’s confidence was a little shaken with his lack of scoring this season, it should’ve gotten a boost with his Sunday outing. Toews’ goal and three assists were as big for him as they were the Blackhawks, who needed every bit of it late against the Canucks. In his last 12 games Toews has three goals and eight assists. He’s getting there. Said coach Joel Quenneville, “it seems like he was around the puck way more and when he does that, usually good things happen.”

2. Great start. This hasn’t been written very often but it was more than evident on Sunday night. If this wasn’t the Blackhawks’ best opening period of the season it was pretty close, as they broke out to a 2-0 lead against the Canucks. The Blackhawks, outside of a 3 ½-minute sequence without a shot on goal, were tenacious and ready to shoot, taking an 18-9 shots-on-goal edge in that first.

3. Corey Crawford rebounds. Quenneville considered Scott Darling for this game, an understandable thought with Darling coming off a 30-stop shutout. But he wanted Crawford to get back to where he was prior to his appendectomy, and Crawford took a step in that direction on Sunday night. In stopping 25 of 27 shots Crawford got his 18th victory of the season and 200th of his career. Quenneville said Crawford “looked like he was in control.”

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4. Michal Kempny’s tough stretch. When Kempny has been good this season he’s been very good. When he’s been bad... The defenseman was in the penalty box when the Canucks scored their first goal and he was beaten by Bo Horvat on the Canucks’ second goal. Kempny didn’t play the final 14 minutes of the game. Quenneville, who liked what Kempny brought on the team’s road trip, said Kempny just has to work through some things. “Coverage with awareness and knowing sometimes it’s man coverage, sometimes it’s playing the puck and clearing the loose stuff,” Quenneville said. “Defenseman is a tough position as you’re growing and learning it, but the more you play the better you play and I still think he’s making progress.”

5. Brian Campbell gets to keep No. 500 this time. Campbell thought he had his 500th point against the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night but it was taken away. Well he got it back on Sunday night, setting up Richard Panik’s 11th goal of the season in the first period.