He’s been underappreciated for most of his career in Chicago, both because of the exceptional skaters in front of him and the love affair fans have with back-ups in this town. Corey Crawford already has two Jennings Trophies to his credit, and should have won the Conn Smythe in 2013.
But is Crawford establishing himself as a legitimate Vezina candidate this season?
Duncan Keith left the Hawks’ lineup after the game on Oct. 17, and Crawford has been a rock since the future Hall of Famer got hurt. Over his last five starts without Keith, Crawford is now 4-1-0 with two shutouts and strong performances against the likes of Tampa, Winnipeg and Los Angeles (and Anaheim, though they’re a dumpster fire right now).
With names like Rundblad, Gustafsson, Daley, van Riemsdyk and Svedberg skating important minutes on the blue line in front of him, and a mix of rookies at various forward spots, Crawford has stopped 137 of 144 shots without Keith in the lineup – a .951 save percentage.
How does Crawford stack up against the usual suspects in the potential Vezina race this year?
The biggest difference Crawford has this year, again, is he continues to perform at an elite level while Keith is out of the lineup. The other netminders on this list haven’t spent three weeks without the best defenseman on their roster, much less with the cast of characters Chicago has rotated through their defensive pairs this season.
There’s a long way to go this season, but it’s about time Crawford got his due. And his play so far this season is worthy of being on the short list for the Vezina already.