The goals that zoomed past Corey Crawford were a little too high in quantity for his or the Blackhawks’ liking. Those five goals were also passing him around the same spot, either above or below the glove that didn’t catch enough of them against the Boston Bruins in Game 4.
Crawford’s mindset during that frustrating time was, “Just stay with it, just stay with it.” He did, stopping enough through the end of the third period and overtime to give the Blackhawks a chance to win, which they did on Brent Seabrook’s seeing-eye shot midway through overtime.
But in the ensuing hours and following day, the questions that hadn’t come up all postseason came up: Is Crawford OK? Do the Blackhawks still believe he can push through? The answers were a resounding yes and yes.
True, Crawford had a very off night Wednesday, something that’s been rare for him this postseason. It was almost costly, if it weren’t for Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask giving up one more than he did at the end. But a goalie change? The Blackhawks can’t fathom it.
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“No, not at all; we're very comfortable with Corey,” head coach Joel Quenneville said. “Corey has been rock solid all year for us and when he's got the ball, he's been outstanding. And he's the biggest reason why we're here today.”
Crawford has been great all postseason and even with last night’s bad game he’s not far behind Rask in goals-against average (1.83 for Rask, 1.86 for Crawford). But this is the life of a goaltender: have a bad game, especially at this stage and your previous bad postseason games come up again. Those first 20 postseason games, the ones in which he went 13-7 and helped the Blackhawks win the first three series, don’t get brought up as much.
The Blackhawks, however, remember them well.
“He's had that maturity and that character all year that he's been able to bounce back,” Jonathan Toews said. “But to be honest with you, I don't really see anything terribly wrong with the way he played last night. Maybe some of the shots from far out that went in overshadowed some of the stops that he did make, and for the most part I think as forwards we can maybe be a little more responsible and getting in shooting lanes the way they would against us and some of the shots that we take that maybe don't go through that they ended up scoring on. I'm not too worried about how he's going to play in the next game.”
Perhaps the Blackhawks could’ve helped more, but Crawford needed to stop more of those glove-side shots. He is not, however, the first Blackhawks goaltender to have a tough Stanley Cup Final game. As Chris Boden pointed out in our post-practice wrap Thursday, Antti Niemi gave up five goals on 32 shots in Game 1 against the Philadelphia Flyers in 2010. Don’t know how many bad goals there were in there, but he nevertheless allowed five. He rebounded nicely.
Crawford definitely had a bad game, and definitely knew where he struggled most.
“Yeah, it’s pretty obvious,” Crawford said of that glove side. “I’m just going to keep playing my game, prepare the way I have and play the way I play. I can’t start thinking they’re going to go glove every time. If they end up switching it up then I’m in trouble.”
There’s no doubt Crawford needs to be better in Game 5. The Blackhawks believe he will be.
“He was still good, he still made a bunch of saves, it’s just one of those games where pucks were going in on both sides,” Patrick Sharp said. “Corey’s fine.”