Corey Crawford Quiets Crowd Of Doubters

Not many thought the Blackhawk could win a Stanley Cup with Corey Crawford between the pipes. But as the Cup tours the Chicagoland area on Tuesday, the reality is now set in stone: Crawford’s postseason body of work stacks up with some of the best in recent years.

Crawford Cup

After the Blackhawks were the only team in the NHL to not post a shutout last season, the outcry to make a change from Crawford and Ray Emery last summer came from fans and media alike.

Chicago GM Stan Bowman stayed the course however, and received exceptional return on his faith during the 2013 regular season. Crawford and Emery combined to win the Jennings Trophy, allowing the fewest goals in the league during the regular season. They led the Hawks to the Presidents’ Trophy, but there were still doubters.

Some even asked if Emery should be the man to start the postseason. After all, the Western Conference playoffs were loaded with “elite” goaltenders, and certainly that word wasn’t going to be used when referring to Crawford.

Crawford would have to beat four of the league’s best to kiss the Cup. An injury removed one strong opponent from the postseason, but Crawford held his own against three fantastic goaltenders in these playoffs.

First Round: Minnesota’s Niklas Backstrom.

The Wild were over-matched as the eight seed coming into the first round, but some thought Backstrom might steal a game or two and make the series interesting. Unfortunately for Minnesota, Backstrom was injured before the first game of the series and, even though Josh Harding did everything he could to keep an overwhelmed Wild team in the series, Minnesota’s netminders weren’t enough. In the first round, Crawford posted a .950 save percentage with one shutout, allowing only seven goals in five games.

Second Round: Detroit’s Jimmy Howard.

Howard was truly special in the first four games of the series, and did all he could to knock the Hawks out. But Chicago’s offense finally broke through, and Crawford once again stood strong. Against Detroit, Crawford posted a .929 save percentage, allowing 14 goals in seven games. His performance in Game Seven, allowing only one goal in over 63 minutes of hockey, will be one of his career’s signature games.

Conference Final: LA’s Jonathan Quick.

In spite of the pedigree of Backstrom, Harding and Howard, Quick presented the most obvious stumbling block for Crawford and the Hawks. The reigning Conn Smythe winner was a good bet to out-play Crawford, and the Hawks would come up short in their quest for another Cup.

But that wasn’t the case. Crawford’s .927 save percentage in the series was significantly better than Quick’s .897, and his performance into double overtime of the conference-clinching game was enough to get the Hawks back into the Cup Final. Again, extra hockey did not phase Crawford, as he stopped 33 of 36 shots in over 91 minutes of hockey in the clinching victory.

Stanley Cup Final: Boston’s Tuukka Rask

Even after leading the Blackhawks past three “elite” goaltenders, there were still many that wondered when – not if – the magic would run out for Crawford.

In an epic series that was as good as any in recent memory, Crawford was good enough to not only win the Cup, but he should have been named the Conn Smythe winner (with all due respect to Patrick Kane). Even in the Hawks’ two losses in the series, Crawford allowed only four goals.

Because of overtimes, Crawford spent more than 13 more minutes in the six-game Cup Final than he did in the seven-game series against Detroit. His .925 save percentage was his worst series total in the playoffs, and that included the ugly 6-5 Hawks win in Game Four.

Perhaps the strongest indication of Crawford’s departure from the 2012 playoffs was his performances in extra time; overtimes were no problem for Crawford in these playoffs. The Hawks were forced into free hockey time on seven occasions in the 2013 postseason, winning five times.

In those seven games – and 10 overtime periods – Crawford was incredible. He stopped 61 of 64 shots for a .953 overtime save percentage in the 2013 postseason, highlighted by stopping all 13 shots in the two overtimes to eliminate Los Angeles and all 29 Boston shots in the triple-overtime thriller in Game One of the Cup Final.

But how good were his postseason numbers?

Here’s a list of all the Stanley Cup winning goaltenders since 2001. The names in bold won the Conn Smythe; we also included JS Giguere’s Conn Smythe-winning postseason numbers from 2003, even though those Ducks lost in the Final to Martin Brodeur’s Devils.

Year Goaltender Team sv pct GAA SO
2013 C. Crawford CHI 0.932 1.84 1
2012 J. Quick LAK 0.946 1.41 3
2011 T. Thomas BOS 0.940 1.98 4
2010 A. Niemi CHI 0.910 2.63 2
2009 MA Fleury PIT 0.908 2.61 0
2008 C. Osgood DET 0.930 1.55 3
2007 JS Giguere ANA 0.922 1.97 1
2006 C. Ward CAR 0.920 2.14 2
2004 N. Khabibulin TB 0.933 1.71 5
2003 M. Brodeur NJD 0.934 1.65 7
2003 JS Giguere* ANA* 0.945 1.62 5
2002 D. Hasek DET 0.920 1.86 6
2001 P. Roy COL 0.934 1.70 4

As you can see, Crawford’s numbers stack up favorably with most of the Cup winners on the list. His save percentage, in spite of only one shutout, comes in better than Hasek, Ward, Giguere (2007), Osgood, Fleury and yes, Niemi.

In fact, when we put Crawford’s numbers up against those from Niemi in 2010, there is no question which netminder had the better postseason when winning the Cup.

And, unlike Niemi, Crawford will be back in Chicago the year after winning it all to help raise the banner on Opening Night.

Are we ready to label Crawford as an “elite” goaltender? Some will be more comfortable than others at this point. But all have to now recognize that the word “champion” will forever be linked to Crawford as the Blackhawks’ netminder.

Crawford

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25 Responses to Corey Crawford Quiets Crowd Of Doubters

  1. Gallboy says:

    It was Hall, Tony’O, Anti, now Crow! I agree, He deserved MVP.

  2. Tim G says:

    While I am one of those who can’t quite call him elite, it has to do with my definition of elite… Top 10%. You got 30 starters, so 3 at the position. Right now if I could build a team with no Salary Cap, I’m starting with Quick, Lundquivst, or Rask. Then you get guys like Price, Howard, Anderson, Crawford, Bobrovsky, Rinne, Miller, Neimi, Schneider, etc. They are all very good goalies. You can really take your pick. Its about how you play in front of them too. Miller was all world for the US team in ’10, but now BUF’s D isn’t great and he had a rough year.

    But that would still put him in the 5-10 range… and with the elite level of play we have in front of him… I’d take what he gives us everyday.

    So call him “elite”, “not elite”, whatever… but he’s definatly working his way up. I have been one of the Crawford defenders this year, and I think he fits this team perfectly.

  3. Mike says:

    I have not said one word about goaltending on this blog. Crawford is the man. He may not be the best goalkeeper in the league but he is the series MVP. I love the comparisons against other “better” goaltenders. And Crow turns out to be the bargain of the year. I think teams sometimes can put too much into goaltending. Consider the 13-14 season with our 4 playoff opponents

    Quick: $5.8mm (9% of cap…ouch)
    Howard $5.3mm
    Rask $3.5mm is an RFA now and will cost more in 13-14
    Backstrom $3.4mm for 3 more years at 35 years old

    Crawford $2.67mm and will be great next year (last year of his current contract)
    Wow

  4. joey Zamboni says:

    The measure of a man (or woman) is how he reacts to adversity. Well what happened to Corey in last years play-offs was about as adverse as it can get!

    Corey obviously worked is a$$ off and what have seen is the “real” Corey Crawford. You can call him “elite” or “top notch” or “Conn Smythe” worthy or any number or descriptors. The bottom line is there is only one word that describes Corey Crawford:

    WINNER!!!!!!!

    Stick tap to the pads Corey from an old D-man……..

  5. Negzz says:

    I will happily confess my mistaken view on Crawford and throughout the regular season repeatedly posted my skepticism on the Hawks ability to win the Cup with CC in net. I WAS WRONG!! …and I LOVE it! In fact, I thought it was clear that Crow should have been awarded the Conn Smythe (it was ridiculous that Kane was awarded the CS and he thought so too), as the media continues to embarrass themselves with their love affair with Boston (and other eastern based clubs/teams.) After the numbnuts on NBC talked so much about how CC’s glove was so weak after the B’s ripped him in game-5, they apparently couldn’t “lose face” and acknowledge his tremendous performance throughout the playoffs and a STELLAR clincher/game-6. After ESPN wrote how Rask could win the CS “even if Boston loses the Cup”, the table was set and they tried to find a media-friendly escape hatch in Kane..

    DOESN’T MATTER. Crawford is a Champion nonetheless and deserving of credit. Hawks don’t win without him stepping up this year (regardless of the team-D ethos.) Congratulations Corey- you deserve your ring and time with Lord Stanley’s Cup!

  6. Oliver Klozov says:

    The doubt surrounding Crawford was a running story line throughout the playoffs, but that was mostly the media searching for an angle. Some fans doubted him, too.
    The Hawks didn’t- they knew what they had.

    Facing and beating Howard/Quick/Rask should have earned Crawford the Conn Smythe. Certainly Kaner was worthy, but even he pointed to Crow. To me, it shows yet again how ass-backwards the NHL can be. That said, The Cup is what matters.

    Also, thanks for this site, and those who post on it. I discovered it during the Kings series, and was SO glad to get away from that tripe being spewed on the ESPN boards. I learned a lot from reading the comments posted here, and didn’t feel the need to interject at all, or “unworthy” because I’m simply a rabid fan, not an “expert”.

    Congratulations 2013 STANLEY CUP CHAMPION CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS!!!!!!

  7. Montana Blackhawk says:

    Corey,

    To take a line from Q, I commend you on your Conn-Smythe worthy performance in the Stanley Cup playoffs. My cap is tipped to you for not listening to all of the nay-sayers. You ARE the best netminder in the NHL. I hope you have a great summer. Enjoy your well deserved day with Lord Stanley’s Cup. I can’t wait to do it all over again next season.

    HAWKS WIN…HAWKS WIN…HAWKS WIN

  8. Tails says:

    Crawford’s performance this year in the regular season and postseason was undeniably elite. I’ve had faith in Crawford all year, but personally, I’d like to see him repeat it next year, and then we can safely call him an elite goaltender. He’s right on the cusp, and I think the only thing holding him back is he hasn’t shown he can repeat this year in and year out.

  9. Tails says:

    Also Crawford should’ve won the Conn Smythe. If I had 10 votes to assign for the award, I’d give 6 to Crawford, 2 to Keith, 1 to Kane, and 1 to Sharp. So a landslide for Crawford, with the other three players deserving mention.

  10. anthony william garcia says:

    i just started to watch hockey this year,still need to study,anymoo.in 2010,i was there on lasalle street during that parade and i had a blast as well as the sox in 2005,

  11. MJ Kasprzak says:

    First of all, for the rest of the NHL that lost 36 games in large part because of B’s owner Jeremy Jacobs, THANK YOU ‘Hawks for not letting him win the Cup afterwards!
    Secondly, I was among those that questioned Crawford in net and even the depth of Chicago until they demolished my Sharks…still would rather have Nemo (proven over more time), but the drop-off to “Crow” as y’all seem to be calling him is a lot smaller than the drop-off from Chicago to San Jose on the third and fourth lines.
    Now it’s time for this NFL owner to switch focus to that season…yes, I’m one of THEM!

  12. Barton Organ Loft says:

    Excellent post. Many we’re doubters and every sentence out of Crows mouth since the win referenced “All of the Hard work!”
    Isn’t that one of the staples of any Chicago team? Lunchbox carrying hard workers?
    Belfour was such a guy and he was loved by fans, media and experts alike.
    Crow has EARNED the same respect plus he delivered to the Hawk what Belfour couldn’t.
    Lets put this bull crap to rest and give Crow his due! Winning goaltender for the 2013 Stanley Cup Champs! Has a nice “RING” to it, doesn’t it?

  13. elio bevilacqua says:

    ….have to admit I was a little harsh on both Crawford and Kane the last few years….but Kane went from M.I.A (missing in action) to M.V.P. and Crawford proved beyond any doubt he is the #1 Blackhawk goaltender……..it was nice sharing this experience with Blackhawk fans and I am happy that a local boy from Toronto scored the Cup winning goal Dave Bolland……..congratulations to the 2013 Stanley Cup Champions Chicago Blackhawks……..enjoy the rest of the summer!……..

  14. Sr. Brad says:

    What a bizarre way to frame your article…instead of being happy and celebrating the Hawks cup, you feel the need to write this article trying hard to put down those who had questions about Crawford…who did you write this for, the hockey world or a few mischevious posters on this site???

    Let go of the anger and angst Tab…be happy…I think ER but it best, who cares what you, or I, or anyone else thinks of CC…he just won the SC…he’s a winner…he’s a champion…he was asked to stop a lot of pucks in the series, including most point shots as Q chose to collapse the box down on Boston’s big forwards…he did great…game 5 was almost unbelievable though, and until CC can learn to eliminate those soft goals and odd occurences, he will likely never be given an elite label…

    I don’t think Crawford is elite, and during the plao what!!! He’s holding the frigging Cup, not any of those other guys…he’s still under contract nextyoffs he was better than Harding in Minn, but wasn’t as good as Howard in Det…he was better than Quick in LA, but I thought Rask was a little better in the final…sseason at a reasonable # (nice work Stan), and because of his label for letting in softies, may not get a huge offer from another team in 2 years…thus we may be able to resign him…alongside Ranta, this gives the Hawks likely the best goaltending tandem in the NHL…

    Unlike you, I don’t ever care to be proven right over anyone else…I just want to be happy…so congrats Corey, GREAT playoffs, and thank you very much for standing tall!!! You have proven yourself to be a great goalie…

  15. Sr. Brad says:

    Wow…don’t know what happened to that 3rd paragraph…essentially I said that CC was better than Harding and Quick and not quite as good as Howard or Rask…but so what…CC is holding the Cup, not those guys…and because of CC’s label for soft goals, he might not get the big contract in 2 years time, meaning, he could be a Hawk for a long time…He and Ranta give us an outstanding goaltender duo…

  16. Travis says:

    Great post. Since he stood on his head against Vancouver in 2011, I’ve believed that Crow had this type of performance in him. He took a lot of heat for the two soft overtime goals against Phoenix, and rightfully so to a certain extent, but many fans and media formed a very negative opinion of his capability and mental toughness based on an extremely small sample size. After a deep playoff run, now we can more accurately assess the ceiling of Corey Crawford.

    What stands out to me is that he’s a well-rounded goalie. He’s an above-average puck handler, particularly behind his net, which suits the Hawks’ style of play very well. He’s above-average at rebound control, and above-average at stopping second and third opportunities. He’s improving at tracking the puck and handling traffic. He’s very tough mentally (his rebound after the soft game 6 goal vs. Detroit was strong evidence of this in my book), he’s strong down low, and every now and then he makes an incredible read on a shooter. He’s also extremely durable. What I like most about him is that he picks his spots on when to be aggressive and cut down angles. For comparison’s sake, Quick is far too aggressive on odd-man rushes, and it cost him dearly against the Hawks.

    My only criticisms of Crawford are that he overcommits to shooters at weak angles and loses his net a bit too often. Zetterberg’s goal in game 7 comes to mind; while that wasn’t a soft goal, Crawford overcommitted to the shooter and gave himself zero chance to make that save. Kelly’s missed open net in the Cup final is another example where Crawford was significantly out of position. There’s little need to be positionally aggressive when a shooter is at a weak angle because the shooter has so little to look at anyway… but I accept that others may have a different philosophy.

    In short, we’re starting to see the ceiling of Crawford. He has the potential to be above-average in every facet of goaltending, and though he might not be elite in any category, that roundedness could establish him as a top goaltender. Barring injury, the next 3-5 years of his career will be his best.

  17. JS says:

    I just figured you were drunk, Brad

    Also, I didn’t get the same vibe from the article that you did. Perhaps you just took it personally as a former doubter? :)

  18. MJ Kasprzak says:

    Actually, I think a title like “Quiets Crowd of Doubters” pretty much verifies Brad’s view. But as a writer, all the haters and even simply doubters need to be told off. I am still reminding all the Brett Favre Apologists how wrong they were about Aaron Rodgers!

    And Brad, what happened in the third paragraph was your cursor moved, and this tex was placed within your word playoffs: “o what!!! He’s holding the frigging Cup, not any of those other guys…he’s still under contract next”

    Finally, I thought I should add that I was unable to see the game (working, and didn’t tape it because the Hawks aren’t my team), but when I saw the computer go from 2-1 to 3-2 I thought it was a mistake. What clutch scoring to come up with both in 17 seconds when the opposition is the one facing elimination! The Hawks have the makings of a dynasty (three Cups in one decade is enough to me).

  19. Sr. Brad says:

    Well, gee, I guess the tone of the title and first sentence sort led me to that conclusion…as for me, I love Crawford as he is a product of our system, which is the true life blood of any organization…so I have always had a “soft spot” for CC…however, in the past when he let in soft goals, it really affected him…this year he just needed to prove that he could be stronger mentally…which he did all year long, including after game 5. My biggest concern with CC all season was his rebound control, which got remarkably better in the playoffs…and was excellent in the Boston series…

    I have continually said that CC has the physical attributes to become a top goalie, but that his mental game neded to match…it appears to be very close now.

    And remember, the only way for teams to win multiple Cups over a few years is to draft well…you can win for a year (Chicago 2010) but then fall on hard times if everyone is, or becomes a high priced Free Agent…Bowman, the Coaches and the players are responsible for this 2nd Cup, because this team is loaded with organizational depth that is very good and very cost effective. Moving forward we have a real chance at a dynasty, because of the quality and depth in our farm system.

  20. Negzz says:

    My concerns about CC have never been about his status or moniker as “elite” or not (I’ll leave that to those debating the Eli Mannings, etc.) My focus has been our ability as a hockey club to WIN THE CUP with Crawford in net. Based on his propensity to let in soft goals and lose his confidence in the process I speculated we could not do so without a change in goal. The fact that the Blackhawks won the title with Crow in net is the end story. He is a champion along with his teammates, and played well enough to win the CS in the process (despite a poor game-5.) Hats off!

  21. Negzz says:

    Correction: …make that a poor Game-4 (not 5.)

  22. Phil says:

    Really good writeup Tab. A great job breaking down each of the series in this playoff run between the competing keepers. I think when looking at this Blackhawks roster, Corey stands out as being the most successful and improved player on the team. The drum beat from the hockey media before the season started, during the lockout shorted schedule, and then through the playoffs, Crawford proved all his critics wrong. Almost all of the pundits and many us fans proclaimed the Hawks a great team that can be beaten because of soft goaltending. Corey was judged unfairly before he had a chance to even perform. Even more baffling was the willingness of fans and media to pile on when he had a rough game or left in a softy. It was almost as though people wanted him to fail. I had my doubts at times as well.

    I thought Corey deserved the CS trophy. Of all the players I was most happy for after they won it Monday was Corey Crawford, Zus, Rozy, Mayers ,and the Cpt. Corey for proving his critics wrong, Zus and Rozy and Jammer because of their long careers without a Cup. The Cpt, for once again showing his character, and ability to raise his game despite the severe physical beating he took to get the job done.

    How can we as fans not be thrilled and happy for Corey? His interviews after the win Monday were rightfully emotional for him, and the video of his family members watching the game was wonderful. Great stuff.

  23. Tom Jaremka says:

    Although I believe that Crawford is a very good, not elite, goaltender, he has a quality that endears him to his teammates. He is humble. I heard him on a local radio show, yesterday, and the guy went out of his way to mention all the players who were NOT a huge part of the Stanley Cup victory. He mentioned Brookbank, Mayers, Bollig and a few others who he said, “stayed after practice and helped me work on my game”.

    The guy always takes the fall for a bad goal and NEVER throws his teammates under the bus like Rask and a few others. As a fan and (still) hockey player, I love a stand up guy who blames nobody but himself.

    Crow is a class act and I can see why the Blackhawks love him so much. I hope he stays with the Hawks for many years. Congrats on winning the Stanley Cup!!

  24. Tre says:

    Ya, I was pulling for Crawford to win the Conn Smythe. He truly contributed to winning most and was THE most valuable player. He showed up every game, and though Kane ended up putting up solid stats, there were MANY games where he contributed almost nothing.

    Crawford had a great year and post season, but I think he needs to string together another year or so of strong play earn the “elite” title. He is on his way, now we’ll see if he earns it.

  25. southsidehawkman says:

    When the regular season started I said this team will go as far as Crow takes them. After a few months of the season it was clear Crow could take them far. The team was confident with him so why shouldnt I be as a fan. Is Crow elite? King Hank and Quick are considered elite and only one of them as a cup. I was a guy that thought Cam Ward was at their tier of goalie, bottom line is you win with the team. Good goalies can steal a game as Rask did but teams win championships!

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