On Friday night at the United Center, fans will be treated to a battle of two of the best goaltenders in the game right now. Teammates on Canada’s World Cup of Hockey team before the season, Braden Holtby and Corey Crawford are off to tremendous starts.
Holtby won the Vezina Trophy last year, winning 48 games with a .922 save percentage in a ridiculous season. He has started his defense of the Vezina with a .920 save percentage and 6-3-1 record.
Crawford is arguably the biggest reason the Blackhawks are in first place in the Western Conference. His .939 save percentage ranks fourth in the NHL entering Friday night’s action, and his seven wins are tied for third in the league.
At even strength this year, both have been impressive. Holtby has a .935 save percentage and Crawford has a stunning .974 save percentage; Chicago’s netminder leads all NHL goalies with at least four games played in that statistic. Crawford’s two shutouts trail only Devan Dubnyk and Sergei Bobrovsky (three each) to date as well.
Crawford hasn’t allowed more than two goals in a game since Oct. 21, a 3-2 loss to Columbus. During the Blackhawks’ seven-game win streak, Crawford has allowed six goals in six games.
Holtby lost back-to-back decisions Oct. 22 and 26 to the Rangers and Oilers, respectively, but then ran off four straight wins before losing to San Jose on Tuesday. Over his last five starts, Holtby is 4-1-0 and has allowed 11 goals.