Blackhawks breakdown: Corey Crawford

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Blackhawks breakdown: Corey Crawford

In his second full season of NHL duty, Corey Crawford played in 57 games -- starting 55 of them. His numbers suffered in every category as he went 30-17-7 with a 2.72 goals-against average and .903 save percentage and zero shutouts. He played every minute of the playoffs, compiling a 2.58 GAA and .912 save percentage, but giving up a pair of weak overtime goals in Games 3 and 4 that put the Blackhawks in a 3-1 series hole they couldn't get out of.

Boden's take: There is no hotter "hot button" on the Blackhawks this off-eason. He was the RFA who needed to be re-signed after his impressive rookie season and playoff series vs. Vancouver. He's the guy many of the same analysts feel a need to replace a year later after being pulled from a whopping seven starts. He showed flashes of that rookie form two or three times, but raised all these questions due to classic "Sophomore Slump-itis" with an assist from some ragged defensive coverage too often around him. He needed to come up with a big save and cover those teammates backs a bit more often.

Myers' take: Crawford entered last season with a new contract and the Blackhawks hopes that he would pick up right where he left off from Game 7 in Vancouver. Well, that didnt happen. Crawford started the season off well, making up for a defense that had its shaky moments right out of the gate. But then Crawford faltered and allowed too many soft goals. He said his confidence never wavered, but anyone watching him certainly had to question that. Crawford didnt really steal any games last season, nor did he record a shutout. It was a tough sophomore season for him, and had some questioning if he was the best No. 1 choice moving forward.

2012-13 Expectations

Boden: Here's the deal for all the fans wanting Crawford moved, "Pronto!": The Hawks aren't looking to deal him unless he's part of some multi-player blockbuster deal that not only brings a goalie back to replace him, but helps fill other needs. This league is filled with very good goalies who have had poor seasons, many of them sophomore seasons. The Hawks need -- and will find out if -- Crawford can grow out of it like the Carey Price, Pekka Rinne and Jimmy Howard (just to name a few) rather than to turn into Steve Mason. This season will determine that. They're not getting killed by the deal they signed him to (two more years totaling 5.3 million), and it will be a great investment if he bounces back. Corey's makeup is such that he'll do everything possible to assure that happens, but we won't know until the games resume. If he doesn't, Ray Emery had better be ready.

Myers: Can Crawford recapture his rookie year game again? He has to. The Blackhawks need that guy, the one who played more than 30 games down the regular- and postseason stretch, and was brilliant at it. I still say he does rebound, and the defense getting better in front of him will help that. But regardless, Crawford has to be able to stand on his head more. He needs some shutouts. He needs to repeat that freshman year, or the Blackhawks may be shopping for a new goaltender.

How do you feel about this evaluation? As always, be sure to chime in with your thoughts by commenting below and check out highlights of Crawford above.
Up next: Brandon Bollig

Blackhawks acquire Tomas Jurco from Red Wings

Blackhawks acquire Tomas Jurco from Red Wings

General manager Stan Bowman saw the potential in Tomas Jurco several years ago.

For the 24-year-old forward, it wasn’t working out with the Detroit Red Wings. Perhaps a change of scenery, an opportunity on a team that could vie for another Stanley Cup, makes a difference. The Blackhawks are about to find out.

The Blackhawks acquired Jurco for a third-round pick in this year’s draft on Friday afternoon. The 24-year-old Jurco has played in 16 games with the Red Wings this season but has yet to collect a point. In four seasons with the Wings, Jurco had 15 goals and 24 assists in 159 games. Red Wings general manager Ken Holland told Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press that, “things haven’t worked out” for Jurco there and that he wanted to go elsewhere.

Jurco was on a bye as a member of the Red Wings but, now that he’s with the Blackhawks, the bye ends. Bowman was hopeful Jurco would join the Blackhawks at practice on Saturday. Also, to clear a roster spot for Jurco, the Blackhawks reassigned Vinnie Hinostroza to the Rockford IceHogs.

[RELATED: Nick Schmaltz gaining confidence, effectiveness with Blackhawks]

Bowman said he’s been watching Jurco for a few seasons now.

“We’ll be patient with him but we really think there’s a good fit there, looking at his skills and the style of hockey we play,” Bowman said. “He’s been an accomplished player at a lot of different levels. He’s shown flashes in the NHL, not as consistently as he or the Wings would like, but you can see the talent and potential. You have to have some patience with these guys. It doesn’t always come together right away. I’m not expecting him to carry our team but I think he can contribute.”

It was an under-the-radar trade for Bowman but that’s not surprising. In late January, Bowman said he probably wouldn’t do much at the trade deadline; he liked how the Blackhawks’ young players were progressing and figured, if that continued, the team would be in good shape. Since then the Blackhawks have won eight of their last nine and are just three points behind the Western Conference-leading Minnesota Wild. As the Blackhawks kept winning it looked like, if they did anything, it would be a depth move.

So will there be any more moves? At this point it doesn’t seem likely, be it on forward or defense – Bowman didn’t have an update on Niklas Hjalmarsson (upper body) but said he’s happy with the depth in Chicago and Rockford on defense. Bowman said he’ll keep talking but, “but it’s a little bit different than in previous years when I thought we definitely needed something and were lacking in an area.”

“I’ve had a feeling about our team, not just recently but even a month ago. I liked the way this group was starting to come together,” Bowman said. “We’ve seen that enhanced over the last couple of week here. We’ve seen players step up, [Nick] Schmaltz in particular. [Ryan] Hartman’s been good all year. We’ve seen Jonathan [Toews] become a dominant player again. It gives your team a confidence that you have balance, scoring in different lines. We just added a young player to help us now as well as in the future. There’s a lot to be excited about. I’m not expecting more trades. I can’t predict more will happen but I have a good feeling about this group right now.”

 

Javy Baez flaunts epic World Series tattoo

Javy Baez flaunts epic World Series tattoo

Javy Baez should win a gold glove in tattoos.

The kid with the MLB logo inked on the back of his neck now has an absolutely epic 2016 World Series Champions tattoo on his left deltoid:

That. Is. Awesome.

Javy apparently has had the tattoo for a little while, though it wasn't quite as eye-popping as it is now (or what we could see of it back in January):

😎 Find The #W #JB9 #ElMago

A post shared by Javier Báez ⚾ (@javy23baez) on

That's some good ink work, Javy.

Now just make sure you don't spend too much time in the gym working on those delts. That tattoo would look awfully weird stretched out: