Saturday, April 23, 2011
Posted: 2:02 p.m. Updated: 8:22 p.m.
By Tracey Myers
Corey Crawford said he felt better than he had in a while entering Game 5, the one in which he earned his first career postseason shutout. Two days later, he couldnt really put a finger on why.
Sometimes its just streaks you go on, he said. I think since the game has started players have tried to find out why they feel good one day and not the next. Ill just try to carry this into the next game.
If he does, the Blackhawks should be in good shape.
Crawford was strong in his 36-stop performance in Vancouver on Thursday night, as his game has continued to improve through this postseason. Crawford was especially tough in the third period, when the Canucks outshot the Blackhawks 15-6.
We didnt give him much help in the third period but he was good and made a lot of saves. He pretty much earned that shutout himself, Patrick Kane said. You have to be proud the way hes progressed, not just in the playoffs but the whole year. Hes won some games for us and been the backbone for our team.
For Crawford, the playoffs have just been business as usual. Except that this business is win or go home. Still, Crawfords kept his typical calm demeanor.
Im just kind of going with the experience of this season and learning from that and carrying it into the playoffs. Its the same game, just a little more intense, he said.
It didnt hurt that the Blackhawks staked Crawford to big early leads. Crawford also gave credit to the Blackhawks 20 blocked shots in that game. But Crawford hasnt even let the Canucks get close to getting back into either of their last two victories. Its been more composure for a goaltender that rarely shows if hes rattled.
He carries that quiet confidence all the time, even at points of the season when weve had rough patches, Ryan Johnson said. He carries himself in a way thats way beyond his years. For him to do that, it resonates throughout the whole team.
Crawfords work has even gotten notice from the other side, as Crawford and Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo have worked together in the past and have plenty in common. Both are Montreal natives, both have the same agent and both have worked with longtime goaltending coach Francois Allaire.
Hes a great guy, hes very laid back and a very honest, good goaltender, Luongo said. He doesnt make mistakes; hes very textbook and has good position on the pucks. Ive worked with him a long time in Montreal and I was surprised he didnt make the NHL sooner than that.
While Crawfords won the last two games, Luongos been pulled in them. But Crawford said its more what the Blackhawks have done, not a problem with Luongos game.
Its not like were taking wristers from the goal line and theyre going in. Were getting traffic in front of him, were making it tough on him, Crawford said. Obviously its tough on him. Hes the greatest guy in the world and after two games everybodys on him.
Crawford will make his 33rd consecutive start in Game 6 on Sunday, although he said hed never know its been that many if he wasnt reminded of it. Hes kept himself fresh and is reveling in the playoff atmosphere. Hes not feeling like the new guy anymore. Not playing like it, either.
Hes made a lot of big timely saves that the fellas need, Troy Brouwer said. When youre looking for a save he provides it.
Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.