Stanley Cup Final
2013 has been a year of many ups and very few downs for the Blackhawks, and much of that success has been credited to the team's ability to shake things off when a game doesn't go its way.
Following Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final, Corey Crawford's glove was a hot topic. After allowing five goals in the same slot, a good deal of criticism surrounded the Blackhawks' goaltender. But Crawford paid it no attention as he prepared for Game 5.
"I'm not really listening to [the criticism]," he said. "I have a job to do. Whatever is being said doesn't really affect what I'm going to do on the ice."
Crawford had no reason to listen to the naysayers; he knew what went wrong last game. He prepared for Game 5 like usual, shook off the frustrations and stopped 24 of 25 shots that came his way -- a much more manageable number compared to the 47 shots he faced Wednesday.
The Blackhawks' overall improvement on defense helped give Crawford the assistance he was often left without Wednesday. Overall he saw a much bigger improvement in every aspect of the team, not just in himself.
"I think it was a big effort by everyone to come back, play defensively, block shots, sacrifice our bodies to block those pucks and quickly get on to offense," Crawford said. "Another good game, I think, moving the puck, moving our feet and getting into the zone."
Coach Joel Quenneville was happy with his team's strong efforts following their 3-1 victory and said Crawford was "rock solid" throughout all 60 minutes.
"You know, I think everybody was asking [about Game 4] going into it, [but] Corey just moves forward," Quenneville said. "He's big, he moves, he anticipates and nothing bothers him, and just looks to look after the next shot."
Any time the 28-year-old goaltender struggled throughout the season, his teammates stood by him and often blamed themselves for the number of shots on goal Crawford's had to face. Saturday was no different, as Patrick Sharp once again reiterated how confident the Blackhawks are in him.
[HIGHLIGHTS: Blackhawks one win away after Game 5 victory]
"It's funny, we keep answering questions about Corey after every game and we give the same answer: we don't have any questions about him," Sharp said. "He's been great for us from start to finish. Even giving up five goals, we could care less. We know he's going to be a rock back there and he was tonight."
The Blackhawks have shown that no matter what, they have each other's backs. Whether one player or one line struggles, they figure things out as a team and it's been their ability to face adversity head on and solve the issue as a group that's gotten them to where they are now -- one win from the Stanley Cup. Crawford sees that support regularly and is happy to have teammates that always stick by his side.
"They've had my back the whole time, our team is pretty tight," he said. "We're not going to let anything affect us, and like I said a million times, we just keep playing our game no matter what happens."