Corey Crawford has done everything to earn candidacy for the Calder Memorial Trophy this season, but as the season sprints toward the finish line, he’s starting to struggle.
While many Blackhawks fans think it’s a matter of Crawford being overworked, his statistics indicate he shouldn’t be taxed yet.
Through Thursday night’s loss in Dallas, Crawford has a 27-13-5 record in 45 games. In total, he has been on the ice for 2,646 minutes this year, facing 1,229 shots. Crawford has a 2.31 goals against average and .920 save percentage.
However, March has not been kind to Crawford.
Here are Crawford’s numbers by month this season:
- October: 1-3-0, 3.03, .901
- November: 5-1-0, 1.98, .923
- December: 5-2-1, 2.22, .920
- January: 5-4-1, 1.99, .925
- February: 7-2-1, 1.96, .932
- March: 4-2-2, 3.65, .877
Certainly those numbers appear to indicate that Crawford is running out of gas. But looking back at Crawford’s career in the minors indicates that he should have more left.
In 2006-07, with the Norfolk Admirals (the former AHL affiliate of the Blackhawks), Crawford was a workhorse. He appeared in 60 games and was on the ice for 3,467 minutes. But that was four years ago.
Last year, with Rockford, Crawford was on the ice for 2,521 minutes in 45 games. So he has put in more work already this year than he did last year. Is that an excuse?
It shouldn’t be.
The Blackhawks are, statistically, doing very little different in March than they have over the course of the entire season. They are actually averaging almost two fewer shots on net fewer per game as a team, but they have consistently allowed around 28.5 shots per game from their opponents.
In March, the Hawks are the highest scoring team in the game, and it isn’t close. Chicago’s 3.75 goals per game average is .31 more than the second-best number in the league, Calgary.
The problem is the Blackhawks have seen a .040 slide in save percentage as a team, leading to a team goals against average of 3.38. In fact, if Marty Turco hadn’t come in to relieve Crawford twice and posted a .917 save percentage in his 75 minutes, the team’s goals against average would be even worse!
As the Blackhawks continue to press for playoff position, the must have Crawford playing at the level he did from November through February. It might be time for coach Joel Quenneville to sit him down, not because he needs physical rest, but because he might need a mental break for a day.
And Sunday would be a good day to do just that.
The Coyotes have, shockingly, one of the top ten offenses in the league this year, and are averaging 3.00 goals per game in March. They are also three points ahead of the Hawks entering their game in Vancouver on Friday night. The long flight home after their game tonight, coupled with fresh legs and a good effort on Thursday night from Turco, could be a boost for the Blackhawks.
That would give Crawford six days off, and he could come back to start at home next Wednesday against a Florida team that has struggled to score all year. Florida is averaging only 2.22 goals per game in March.