Crawford: My game is coming together

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Crawford: My game is coming together

Corey Crawford said his confidence never waivered. His game, however, did.

For part of this season Crawford wasnt looking like the strong, dependable goaltender that led the Blackhawks to the playoffs last season and earned him a three-year deal during the summer. He looked shaky, uncertain. Not confident.

But as the season wound down a switch flipped. The reliable, solid and yes, confident Crawford re-emerged. And now, hes looking very much like he did last season.

When Crawford starts Game 1 against the Phoenix Coyotes on Thursday, hell be going in riding a good streak. Since coming in to relieve Ray Emery on March 13, when he stopped all 18 shots he saw en route to a shootout victory over St. Louis Crawford is 8-1-2. Crawford never did get that elusive shutout this season, but he did get his game back to a better form by seasons end.

I like the way hes finished a big stretch of the season, the important part going into the playoffs, coach Joel Quenneville said. Hes got some momentum in his game and he was instrumental in us getting into the playoffs.

Crawford loves this time of year, as evidence by his work last spring against the Vancouver Canucks. He was tremendous, and just about goaltended the Blackhawks into the second round. He made some adjustments to his game late this season, and theyve paid off.

My timings on and I feel good, he said. Im picking the right spots to be aggressive and when to sit back a little bit. It just seems like my game is coming together.

And it couldnt happen at a better time.

I think hes really stepped up his game a few levels, Patrick Sharp. There were a lot of times last year (going into the playoffs) when we were answering questions about him, if he could do it. He was our best player in that Vancouver series. Hes gearing up to play well and we know he will.

Crawford said he never lost confidence. Nevertheless, it looks like hes regained his game.

He was huge in our success last year, just getting to the playoffs. He won a lot of games for us; Joel likes to call them goalie wins, and he did a lot of that for us last year, Patrick Kane said. Sometimes you go through lulls in the season; you can say that about me, too. But the most important time of the year is right now, and hes performing at his best right now. So thats nice to see.

Wintrust Athlete of the Week: Fremd's Grace Tworek

Wintrust Athlete of the Week: Fremd's Grace Tworek

This week's Wintrust Athlete of the Week is Fremd senior Grace Tworek. 

Tworek has led the Vikings on and off the court this season. Last week, the Harvard commit put up a career-high 29 points in a win over Wheeling. 

Learn more about Tworek's success in the video above. 

Saturday on CSN: Loyola, Illinois State host Missouri Valley opponents

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Saturday on CSN: Loyola, Illinois State host Missouri Valley opponents

CSN will have two Missouri Valley Conference games with local teams on Saturday. 

The first game tips at 3 p.m. live on CSN as Evansville heads to Loyola. The second game tips at 7 p.m. and is also live on CSN as Drake will play at Illinois State.

Loyola (13-7, 3-4) is coming off of a tough road loss in double overtime to Northern Iowa. The Ramblers have been led by senior Milton Doyle this season as the former Marshall star is one of the better guards in the Valley.

Evansville (10-10, 1-6) has dropped five straight games as they're struggling to gain any momentum in conference play. Senior guard Jaylon Brown is having an outstanding season for the Purple Aces as he's putting up 21.2 points per game.

The second matchup has Drake (6-13, 4-3) traveling to Illinois State. The Bulldogs have won three of four games and junior guard Reed Timmer is dangerous while former Saint Viator product Ore Arogundade is having a solid sophomore season. 

Illinois State (15-4, 7-0) is leading the Valley after a huge win over Wichita State as they've won eight straight games. The Redbirds are hoping to make a run to an NCAA tournament bid with another home win.