Blackhawks Goalies: Case Study Supports Corey Crawford

As the summer continues without the Blackhawks having made a significant addition to their roster, the man between the pipes has remained the focus of concern for Chicago fans.

Corey Crawford had a disappointing 2011-12 season. Everyone knows that, including Crawford and his bosses (both behind the bench and upstairs). But there is a great case study inside the Central Division that should at least give Hawks fans a moment of pause before running Crawford out of town.

Simply put: the Blackhawks need Crawford to be Jimmy Howard 2.0.

Looking back at their performances in their first couple seasons in the NHL, the similarities are remarkable. Consider here the first full seasons of Crawford and Howard:

CC JH
2010-11 2009-10
GP 57 63
MIN 3337 3740
GA 128 141
SV 1417 1708
SA 1545 1849
SV 0.917 0.924
GAA 2.30 2.26
SO 4 3

Adding context to these numbers, remember that both goalies were stepping into a lineup that had played in the Stanley Cup Final the previous season; Detroit lost to Pittsburgh in 2009, and (obviously) Chicago won the Cup in 2010.

Crawford faced fewer shots per night (27.1) in his first full NHL season than Howard did (29.3), but we end up with save percentages and goals against averages that are comparable.

We’re all too familiar with Crawford’s performance last year, but consider how it stacks up against Howard’s sophomore campaign:

CC JH
2011-12 2010-11
GP 57 63
MIN 3218 3615
GA 146 168
SV 1361 1662
SA 1507 1830
SV 0.903 0.908
GAA 2.72 2.79
SO 0 2

Again, the similarities are remarkable. Crawford’s shots against per game dropped to 26.4 last season, while Howard also faced fewer shots per game (29.0) in his second year with the Wings. Once again, the save percentages and goals against averages are comparable.

The game-changing difference between the two sophomore seasons was the ending. Both goalies got a first round playoff matchup with Phoenix, but Howard’s Red Wings swept the Coyotes out of the postseason in 2011. In that series, Howard allowed 10 goals in the four games; perhaps Detroit’s offense scoring 18 goals in those four games was part of the difference?

Howard’s second season ended with a seven-game series loss to San Jose in the second round in 2011. In that series, Detroit lost both games that went to overtime, and Howard allowed 18 goals in the seven games. Coincidentally, the Red Wings only scored 18 goals against the Sharks in that series.

If we can draw parallels between the first two seasons of Crawford and Howard, what then should Hawks fans hope for in the coming season? Here’s a look at Howard’s performance in his third season in the NHL:

CC JH
 2012-13 2011-12
GP  ? 57
MIN  ? 3360
GA  ? 119
SV  ? 1377
SA  ? 1496
SV  ? 0.920
GAA  ? 2.12
SO  ? 6

If the Blackhawks can receive similar numbers to those in the coming year, the team in front of Crawford should be able to win more games this year. Then we just have to hope the similarities end with the regular season… Howard’s progression in the postseason has been in the wrong direction, and his .888 save percentage in five playoff games this spring left as much to be desired by the fans in Detroit as we’re trying to cope with this summer in Chicago.

Sophomore goalies struggling isn’t a new concept in the NHL. But how the player responds to the challenge is ultimately what determines the future of both the individual and his team.

It’s on Crawford to be better this season. If he’s the Number One in Chicago on Opening Night, he must be better to keep that title the entire season. But he doesn’t have to look very far to see how a bounce-back is possible.

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24 Responses to Blackhawks Goalies: Case Study Supports Corey Crawford

  1. Tom Leonard says:

    Good article. It will be up to Corey that he becomes more like Howard or Price in bouncing back than Mason in Columbus. I think Corey has a lot more on the ball than Mason though and people are conveniently forgetting some of the awesome saves Corey made this last year while having an off year. Corey has talent and needs to achieve more consistency now.

    Corey has failed once, while the replacement some clamor for (BobbyLou) has a more proven track record of failure. I hope we give Corey another kick at the can.

    I would like to see him wear goal pads that are a couple inches shorter to help his agility.

  2. Ian Keane says:

    Hoping it goes that way, and he isn’t Steve Mason 2.0

  3. russ hook says:

    Craw deserves a chance to redeem himself. He wasn’t as bad as most bloggers say. Hard work will get him to the top, and the same goes for the D-Men, and floating forwards.

  4. Brad Stevenson says:

    I have said all along that I THINK CC will be better this year, and they sophomore jinx is quite a widespread thing for goalies…

    But, regardless, the Hawks are taking a big chance by trusting in CC…this isn’t the minors and after 2 first round bounces, Stan Bowman’s job is on the line…and while I think going into the season with Crawford as one of our 2 goalies is a good thing, I don’t think Ray Emery being the other guy is…

    Emery is still a decent goalie, but CLEARLY Ray is not capable of becoming “The Guy” if CC fails…every time Q gave Emery that chance last year, he failed…

    So if we are not going out to get Brodeur or Luongo or another proven starter, then we still need to add someone to the roster who will PUSH CC for the starting job, and make Crawford earn the starting status game in and game out…

  5. Brad Stevenson says:

    And sorry Captain Hook, but Crawford WAS that bad last season…if for no other reason than those 2 ridiculous OT goals he gave up to Phoenix…BRUTAL…those kind of goals simply can’t go in…

  6. Scott Pasieka says:

    I don’t think there is another option than crawdaddy so whether he fails or flies it will be as the starting goalie wearing the indian. If he is gonna be better, our net presence will have to be as well. We gotta protect the paint better than we did last year. Either way it goes, I hope Stan’s job is on the line. Team has slowly declined since losing Talon.

  7. Harry says:

    Corey has sometimes shown moments of greatness. If he doesn’t crack it this season, at best then he will be a good back up goaltender. Stephan Waite needs to get his but in gear and get this kid motivated. Too many head case goals last season that he allowed to get to him.

    Yes we do need a better net presence but we also need a goaltender that can come up with the big save at the right time to motivate the team. Too many easy goals allowed last season. One of the highest GAA in the league.
    Not good.
    He also needs to stand up more and longer. He goes into the butterfly way to soon too often and players know this about him and he gets beaten way to easily and often times out of position.
    Sorry to be such a critic, I really want him to be much better this season as do all of you.

  8. Hawksfan says:

    All CC need is a good strong D teams infront of him.

  9. ratboy36 says:

    Glad to see the faith in #50 isn’t completly gone,those OT goals SUcKeD!!!! But what about the Nucks series in 2011? Not bad for a rookie EH? I’m sure he had some pressure with Razor being brought in.Him starting this season could show him he has the teams confidence.And if he doesn’t improve there’s always Hutton and Carruth who I believe on whole hearted.Is it October yet? Lol

  10. Brad Stevenson says:

    Ratboy, CC’s late season stretch and run against the Canucks in last year’s first round was as good as goaltending as you are EVER going to get…he was almost unbeatable. That is why we came back in that series and it took a horrendous turnover by Campoli to beat CC…other than that, we would have won that game…

    So, he CAN do it, because he can…that is why we need ONE MORE DMan…a physical guy on the 2nd pairing to replace Hammer…then we have e pairings, each with one physical, stay at home player, and one quick, offensive DMan…excellent balance, just like the Kings have…

    Plus, don’t sell short that 2nd line Centre…if this guy is obtained and he wins 53%+ of his face-offs, that is going to help CC out a ton, ESPECIALLY on the PK…

    Word is Bowman is trying to work a deal with Montreal for Plekanec, that would involve Hammer…let’s hope he can pull this one off…

  11. SouthSideHawkMan says:

    I’m one of the few Hawks fans that isnt ready to turn their back on Crow, lets hope he can rebound this season and become the netminder they need, if not it will be another 1st round exit.

  12. Tuke says:

    How anyone can say that Crawford “wasn’t that bad last season” is beyond me. The guy was horrible for a large majority of the season and cost the Hawks many games when he couldn’t make a key save or a routine save for that matter. As for him being better this year goes let’s just say that it wouldn’t be a stretch seeing how bad he was last season it shouldn’t be that difficult to improve on. However, banking another season on hoping that CC can find whatever it was that made him good in 10-11 is a huge risk considering he was only really good that one season in his career.

  13. RyanDale says:

    The D-men will go a L0ng way in CC success. I think hes capable of being the man we need. The dmen are more of the key to the problem imo. The JH comparison was interesting. Let’s hope a JH 2,0 is conceivable, but he did have some studs in front of him , I was more disappointed in the D than the GT last year. Hopefully a new season will bring better results, Good Luck guys

  14. AC says:

    Great article Tab. I sent these same statistics to a friend of mine 2 months ago to make the same argument, so I’m definitely onboard with it. Additionally, Howard suffered through a horrible midseason stretch in his sophomore season that saw him get benched and perform on par with a Steve Mason, much like CC did last year. We’ll see if he can turn it around like Howard did or not.

  15. Dickie Dunn says:

    Apologies for redundancy. A consistent commitment to *TEAM* defense will solve a few problems. That is, I don’t see a need to replace Hjalmarsson with a “physical guy” – maybe Hjal will return to the more physical game he played in 2010? Maybe Brookbank is that physical guy, or his presence acts as a motivator? I’ve also said previously that although the two WEAK goals were costly, and Crawford’s play last season was not up to the previous year and the first round vs Vancouver, it would be a mistake to judge/give up on him at this point.

    Did anyone see the first round of Pittsburgh/Philadelphia? Are the Penguins trying to replace MA Fleury? To me, his play in that series made Crawford look like Quick or Brodeur. I realize that it isn’t relevant to the Hawks and Crawford directly, but it says something about overreaction and panic.

  16. wall says:

    Off topic.

    Did anyone see T-Squared’s highlite’s from day 3…
    the Kid looked like a Man… made the other guy’s look like they were playing in shoes!

    WOW! Hawks got a steal! Kid can play!!!

  17. JW says:

    Isn’t there a rule of thumb that most players will slump a bit after signing a big contract? Don’t know why everyone is ready to throw out Crawford and Hammer–and even Frolik for that matter. These guys are young and hungry enough to turn it around–just watch and see. A second line center is needed, and another in-your-face-go-to-the-net guy like Doan would be a great addition. But love or hate Bowman, he was smart to lock up the guys he did when he did.

  18. Dickie Dunn says:

    Frolik — it’s difficult to defend him. I don’t think it’s a lack of effort at all. He just can’t score. Puzzling – he had the two 20 goal seasons in FL and his (pre-NHL )potential and skill rating were high?

  19. Tab Bamford says:

    Frolik appears to have caught the hockey version of what baseball fans know as the Steve Sax/Chuck Knoblauch Can’t Aim Disease. It’s amazing and sad, but the boy can’t even be described as snakebit any more. He’s just lost it completely, and there were such high hopes for him not only coming into the league, but w/ the two 20-goal seasons so early in his career.

  20. Mattrr says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but 90% of the goals scored against CC this year were bad giveaways from the D-men, loose pucks, and deflected shots. The hawks need to get stronger in front of the net!

  21. Cord says:

    Tab can you update the ?s if this had been a full season. I’d love to see how this matched up.

  22. Tab Bamford says:

    Cord: Thanks for asking. I am not a believer that you can simply assume the same save pct & GAA to come up w/ a “regular season.” However, if we include Crawford’s postseason, we have 53 games played, which is closer to Howard’s full third season. Here are Crawford’s complete numbers for the 2013 regular + postseason:

    GP: 53
    MIN: 3,264:25
    GA: 103
    SV: 1,340
    SA: 1,443
    SV%: .929
    GAA: 1.90
    SO: 4

    So how do you think this comparison holds up?

  23. SouthSideHawkMan says:

    Nice work Tab and great link to go waaaaaaay back in the vault to July 11th!

  24. Tab Bamford says:

    re: SSHM – July 11, 2012

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