Over the past four postseasons, the Chicago Blackhawks have had the chance to close a team out seven times. In those games, Corey Crawford has been phenomenal, and deserves more praise than he receives.
Twice Crawford has played in a Game 7, winning once and losing the other. His first postseason as the Hawks’ starter went the distance, and his performance in Game 7 (36 saves against 38 shots) against Vancouver shouldn’t have left him as a scapegoat for the series loss.
The series against Phoenix in 2012 left a lot to be desired from Crawford. Many wondered if he was good enough to be the man on a team with hopes of winning more than one Cup after he allowed 17 goals in the six-game series.
Until he raised the Cup over his head 11 months ago, Crawford still hadn’t shut up his critics, and there are still some that question whether or not Crawford can be included in the conversation of the elite netminders in the NHL.
In the seven games in which the Blackhawks had the chance to advance/win the Cup, Crawford has a 6-1 record, winning his last six (obviously four last year and two so far this postseason).
But over those seven games, the numbers support Crawford’s ability to close out a series with a strong performance. Crawford has allowed only 11 goals in seven close-out games while facing 219 shots, a .950 save percentage.
What’s more, Crawford has allowed more than two goals only once – against the Kings in the Western Conference Final a year ago – and allowed only one goal in four of his last six series finales.
He should have won the Conn Smythe last year, and is a front-runner for the award through the first two rounds this time around. Crawford has proven that he’s a closer, and good enough to be mentioned with the best.