Motivated Crawford hopes to prove doubters wrong

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Motivated Crawford hopes to prove doubters wrong

Corey Crawford saw the stories this summer, saw that the Chicago Blackhawks went after future Hall-of-Fame goaltender Martin Brodeur at the start of free agency.

As much as the Blackhawks said they were simply going after a good player, that it had nothing to do with their confidence level in Crawford, it seemed like there were doubts. But for Crawford, all of that didnt matter.

He had bigger concerns.

Having a chance at a guy like that, hes a great goaltender. At the same time, I cant focus on that stuff, Crawford said at the convention this weekend. I have to worry about what Im doing, how Im preparing myself this season. You start listening to that stuff, itll be a distraction.

Yeah, a teams seemingly wavering confidence in you can be distracting. But the Blackhawks didnt get Brodeur, and who the hell knows whats going on with Roberto Luongo hes going to Florida, hed like Chicago, but Florida is definitely where hed like to play, etc.

So after all that goalie hoopla this summer, one thing is clear right now: Crawford is still the No. 1 guy. And this season he has to get back to playing as such.

You cant win without goaltending; thats been preached throughout the league. The Los Angeles Kings exemplified that this season, especially in the playoffs. So this season Crawford needs to be back to the goalie he was his rookie season, the goalie the Blackhawks undoubtedly believed in when they signed him to a three-year deal in the summer of 2011.

And thats where he wants to be.

Im excited to play hockey. I just want to get out there and compete, he said. I just have to go out there and play well and show them. Thats all I can do on my part.

Goaltending coach Stephane Waite was asked at a coaching session this weekend what he does when his goaltender is going through low points.

Ill have an answer for him, and you have to be very positive, especially with goalies, he said. When hes not doing well, we adjust. Theres a lot of video and I just tell him, Dont worry, we know whats wrong and well adjust. Dont create a doubt in your mind. You fix the problem, turn the page and move on.

Waite and Crawford probably did that drill a few times last season, and at times it looked like it worked. Then Crawford would struggle again. So whatever the issue was be it mechanical or mental Crawford will look to eradicate it this season.

If not, the Blackhawks may be pursuing another goaltender next summer.

Im definitely motivated, he said. I want to do well, I want to be the No. 1. guy here. No matter what happens outside of my situation, it doesnt change what Im doing.

[PHOTO] Joe Maddon, Miguel Montero patch things up over a drink

[PHOTO] Joe Maddon, Miguel Montero patch things up over a drink

Despite the Cubs ending their 108-year World Series drought, Miguel Montero made offseason headlines for all the wrong reasons when he complained about his role in the Cubs' 2017 championship campaign.

Montero criticized Maddon's communication skills, catching rotation and bullpen decision-making after the team's Grant Park celebration. Maddon brushed off the criticism, and last week at spring training Montero said he hadn't spoke with the Cubs' skipper.

That tension appears to be all but a thing of the past, as Montero posted this picture of him and his manager sharing a drink together sporting nothing but smiles.

It's safe to say Montero would describe his relationship with Maddon now as: #WeAreGood.

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks clash with Wild tonight on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks clash with Wild tonight on CSN

Watch as the Blackhawks take on the Minnesota Wild tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Blackhawks Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.

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Five Things to Watch:

1. Road warriors.

The Blackhawks have won six straight games away from the United Center, and are looking to make it a seventh in Minnesota tonight. They've scored the game's first goal in four of those wins, and in the other two, overcame 1-0 deficits to beat Dallas 5-3 and Edmonton 5-1, the latter of which they scored five unanswered goals.

2. Corey Crawford vs. Devan Dubnyk.

Crawford hasn't quite been the same since undergoing an emergency appendectomy on Dec. 3, but he turned in probably his best outing since then in the Blackhawks' last meeting against Minnesota on Feb. 8 when he stopped 35 of 38 shots in a 4-3 overtime win. He essentially stole two points, and prevented the Wild from picking up the extra one. Across from him tonight will be Dubnyk, who leads the league in wins (32), goals against average (1.97) and save percentage (.934).

3. Jonathan Toews on fire.

After a tough offensive drought earlier in the season that lasted longer than expected, the Blackhawks captain has six goals and 10 assists in his last 12 games, and upped his point total to 37, which now ranks fifth on the team. In the last meeting against Minnesota two weeks ago, Toews had a three-point night and scored the game winner in overtime. 

4. Mikael Granlund among league's most underrated players.

File Granlund under the category of players who don't get enough attention. He has 17 goals and 36 assists in 58 games this season, and his 53 points is tied with Jeff Carter and Artemi Panarin for 13th in the NHL's scoring race. The next highest point total on the Wild is Eric Staal with 45, an eight-point gap between him and Granlund. The 24-year-old forward registered his first career hat trick earlier this month, and also had a 12-game point streak just two weeks ago.

5. Ryan Hartman's closing in on 15 goals.

In Saturday's 3-1 loss to Edmonton, Hartman defended his teammate by fighting an Oilers defenseman that was practically twice his size. He called it a "no-brainer" to stick up for Tanner Kero and did well in the scrap, but it led to an Oilers power play and 10-minute misconduct which didn't do the Blackhawks any favors. He responded in a great way Sunday by scoring the game's first goal that helped his team win 5-1 in Buffalo. The next goal he scores will be No. 15, which would give the Blackhawks six 15-plus goal scorers on the year. They had only four a season ago.

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