Monday, January 23, 2017

Crawford's 200th Win Puts Him In The Category Among Blackhawks Greats

By Randy Holndoner (@bhawkschatter)

Sunday night, Chicago Blackhawks goalie, Corey Crawford, became just the 4th goalie in franchise history, to win 200 games with the club.  Crawford can arguably be put into the list as one of the Blackhawks greatest goalies.

Crawford, 32, was drafted in the second round, 52nd overall, in the 2003 NHL Entry draft by the Blackhawks.  After spending five full seasons with the Blackhawks' affiliate (Rockford Icehogs/Norfolk Admirals), where he accumulated 135 wins, he finally broke into the NHL full time during the 2010-2011 season.  A major decision was left to the Blackhawks brass as whether to keep Antti Niemi, a rookie, who brought Chicago its first Stanley Cup in 46 years, or go with the seasoned AHL-er, Crawford, thanks to the NHL salary cap that was put into place.  Much to the dismay of some Blackhawk fans, upper management decided to go with Crawford and let Niemi leave for free agency and the San Jose Sharks.

In his first full season, Crawford put up very good numbers, (33-18-6, .917 SV%, 2.30 GAA). He finished 4th in the Calder Trophy voting that year for Rookie of the Year honors.  Unfortunately, Chicago would have a first round exit in the playoffs that year, dealt to them in a 7 game series, by the Vancouver Canucks.  The following year, the Hawks left again in the first round, this time to the Phoenix Coyotes.  Crawford was the scape goat for both seasons as many questioned his inexperience in the playoffs.  Many wanted him gone.  Amazingly, some still do.

In the 2012-13 season, Crawford and the Blackhawks went on an unbelievable run with a 24 game unbeaten streak to start the season.  They would cruise their way to the playoffs that year.  But questions remained about Crawford and how he would perform in the playoffs, despite huge numbers in a lock-out season (19-5-5, .926 SV%, 1.94 GAA).  Crawford made his critics eat their words about his doubts with his play on the ice as he took the Blackhawks to their 2nd Stanley Cup in 4 years.  He started every game that post-season going 16-7 with a .932 SV% and a 1.84 GAA.  Although Patrick Kane was named Conn Smith winner, Playoff MVP, even he said that Crawford deserved those honors and not him.

The following year, Crawford and the Hawks were a blown offsides call off, in overtime, of Game 7 in the Western Conference Finals, of possibly heading back to the Stanley Cup, but it wasn't meant to be against the Los Angles Kings.  In 2015, however, they would reclaim Lord Stanley's Cup for a 3rd time in 7 seasons.  It wasn't a smooth series by any means for Crawford.  In a 1st round match-up with the Nashville Predators, Crawford had a horrendous series, being pulled twice and benched twice, for rookie Scott Darling.  The Hawks, thanks to Darling's play, would defeat the Predators in 6 games.

Coach Joel Quenneville decided to go with Corey Crawford in the next round against the Minnesota Wild, despite the critics and some enraged fans who questioned his decision and Crawford's play.  Crawford was lights out against Minnesota, and was key to a 3 games to 0 comeback against the Anaheim Ducks.  He was huge against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Stanley Cup Finals and won Game Six by shutting them out, 2-0 for the series clinching win.

in his career as a member of the Blackhawks, he ranks among the tops in franchise history: 

4th in wins (200, 1 behind Ed Belfour)
1st in save percentage (.918)
2nd in shots against (9871)
2nd in saves (9062)
2nd in Goals Against Average (2.36).   
Statistics provided by 
In playoff franchise history, he almost runs the board: 

1st in wins (48)
1st in shost against (2469)
2nd in games played (83)
2nd in GAA. (2.26 - minimum 20 games played)
2nd in saves (2271)
1st in save percentage (.920)
1st in shutouts (5)
Statistics provided by
Amazingly, there are those that still call for him to be traded after giving up a soft goal, never minding the fact the he saved twelve other scoring chance opportunities to keep the Hawks in a game.  

He's earned his stay, his salary, and the right to be talked about as one of the Blackhawks' greatest goalies. 

Congratulations,  Corey on #200!


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