Patience is a virtue for Crawford

Patience is a virtue for Crawford
January 30, 2013, 1:45 pm
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Steve Konroyd

Maybe the biggest question mark surrounding the Blackhawks this year was their inconsistent goaltending from last season. Corey Crawford had an uneven year after bursting onto the scene with a fantastic rookie season. His 2.72 goals against average and .903 save percentage from 2012 were average at best.

To put it in perspective, 25 other starters had better save percentages than Crawford. But as head coach Joel Quenneville pointed out, and second-year goalies have proven, is that your sophomore year can certainly lead to a case of the hiccups.

After getting knocked out by the Phoenix Coyotes, Crawford was, fairly or not, held partly responsible for the defeat. Phoenix had finished with fewer points than Chicago, so it followed that they would dispose of the pesky desert dogs on skill and experience.

The difference in the series, really, was the two overtime losses suffered by the Hawks. In those defeats, a first shot in overtime won the game for the opposition. Ouch.

Summers can be long for players who get knocked out of the playoffs, especially when you see an 8th seeded Los Angeles Kings win the Stanley Cup. But as long as the offseason is for players, they can be even more dreadful for goalies. You remember your last performances best, and for Crawford, they weren’t necessarily games, but certainly goals he would like to forget.   

As with any experience that makes you better and stronger, Crawford had to live with this one a little longer than usual. He wasn’t going overseas during the lockout to try and put it all behind him, so he used it to strengthen his focus on the coming year – whenever that would be. And patience isn’t only something that goalies need to be good on the ice; it’s something that certain goalies need to survive. Crawford is a netminder who spent six years in the minors before getting his chance in the big show.

Congratulations Corey, on your start to the season, and on being named the NHL’s 2nd Star of the Week.