Corey Crawford Is A Front-Runner For the Calder Trophy

If we use last year as a barometer, Corey Crawford should be considered a front-runner for the Calder Trophy.

Saturday’s matinee in Detroit featured two fantastic young goalies in the Central Division: Crawford and Detroit’s Jimmy Howard.

Howard was the runner-up to Buffalo’s Tyler Myers for the 2010 Calder Trophy as the league’s best rookie. Looking at their performances, the comparison between Howard and Crawford should give Blackhawks fans confidence that Chicago’s young netminder can win the hardware this year.

Last year, Howard won Detroit’s starting job early in November and was outstanding right out of the gate. However, as the season progressed, his winning became less frequent; Howard was 13-8-2 from October through December, but was just 6-4-3 in January. Crawford has been the opposite this season, losing four of his first five decisions before making a dominant run.

Consider this comparison between Crawford and Howard last season:

  Crawford         Thru Jan. 22 Crawford           Since Nov. 14 Howard    Thru January
Record 16-8-2 15-4-2 19-11-6
GAA 2.08 1.93 2.26
Save pct 0.923 0.927 0.928
Shots/60 27.2 26.6 31.2

Since Nov. 14, the end of Crawford’s personal four-game losing streak, he has been incredible. However, even including that stretch of games, Crawford’s resume between the pipes is as good as any netminder in the league this year.

In Crawford’s 26 appearances this year, he has allowed two or fewer goals in 18 games. Also remember that two of his losses (Oct. 29 and Dec. 13) came in relief of Marty Turco; he has won 16 of 24 starts on the year, and has 15 of his last 20.

After Saturday’s outstanding victory, Crawford has moved ahead of Nashville’s Pekka Rinne into second in the NHL with a 2.08 goals against average. His .923 save percentage ranks eighth, but is sixth among starting goalies. Among rookies, Crawford trails only Philadelphia’s Sergei Bobrovsky’s 19 wins, but is well ahead of Bobrovsky’s save percentage (.918) and goals against average (2.49).

Carolina’s Jeff Skinner and San Jose’s Logan Couture are two of the top rookie forwards in the game today, but neither is among the league’s best in any statistical category. Skinner’s 39 points are tied for 37th in the NHL, and are eight ahead of Couture. Couture’s 21 goals are tied for ninth in the NHL, but he has only three in his last 14 games.

Crawford’s play has been instrumental in the Blackhawks ascent into strong playoff position, something that cannot be said for Skinner in Carolina or Couture in San Jose. Furthermore, there isn’t a position in the game with more pressure on it than between the pipes.

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