Has there ever been a goalie more scrutinized and thrown under the bus more than Corey Crawford? From his head being called for after Game 2 of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final, to his benching in the opening round of this year’s playoffs, Crawford has battled and fought his way to one Stanley Cup Championship and may be on his way to a second.
2013 Stanley Cup Ups and Downs
After taking over the starting job from Marty Turco in December of 2010, Crawford has continued to put up solid numbers, despite his naysayers. Crawford has put up a 2.33 GAA, as well as a .923 save percentage in 260 starts for the Blackhawks in that time. His numbers in the playoffs are equally impressive, touting a 2.26 GAA, a .926 save percentage, and a 44-29-4 record. Plus this little nugget added to his playoff success:
Corey Crawford one of 5 goalies to record 10 or more wins in 3 consecutive playoffs. The other 4 are in the hall of fame. But Crawford sucks
— Larrold (@Larry_Boa) June 7, 2015
Rewind back to the end of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final, when many people thought that Crawford, not Patrick Kane, should have received the Conn Smythe Trophy. What many people may have forgotten is that there was a large cry for Crawford to be benched in that series following Chicago’s Game 4 victory over Boston. You read that right, following a Blackhawks victory, people wanted Crawford benched. The reason behind this outcry? Crawford allowed five goals in the game all on his glove side.
Chicago fans thought maybe Ray Emery, who was viewed as goalie 1b, would give the Blackhawks a better chance at winning. How did Crawford respond to this criticism? He quietly went out and handled his business. In a pivotal Game 5 in Chicago, Crawford held the Bruins to one goal on 25 shots putting his team in position to win the Stanley Cup in Boston. In Game 6 Crawford allowed two goals, one in the first period and one in third, on 25 shots. After giving up the go-ahead goal, the Blackhawks backed up their goaltender allowing only three shots on goal, and scoring the game tying and winning goals 17 seconds apart.
Crawford was a Stanley Cup Champion, and there was nothing his naysayers could do about it. His numbers for the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs? 16-7-1, 1.84 GAA, and a .932 save percentage.
2015 Stanley Cup Rollercoaster
Coming into the 2015 playoffs, Crawford was lauded with keeping Chicago in the playoff race following Patrick Kane’s injury. That praise would quickly disappear in Game 1 of the first round when Crawford allowed three goals on the first 12 shots he faced, forcing Chicago to put in rookie Scott Darling. Darling would stand on his head for the remainder Game 1, stopping all 42 shots he faced and helping the Blackhawks to victory. If you listened carefully to the winds in the Windy City, you could hear the whispers of a goalie controversy brewing.
After Crawford allowed six goals in Game 2, those whispers became shouts, and Coach Joel Quenneville was forced to turn back to Darling. Forced to sit on the bench, Crawford watched as Darling led his team to victory in Games 3 and 4, waiting and hoping for any chance to reclaim his net. After allowing four goals in Game 5, Darling was pulled in the Game 6 after allowing three goals on the first 12 shots he faced. With his net reclaimed, Crawford was not asked to do much as Chicago held Nashville to 13 shots on goal for the remainder of the game. Crawford would stop all 13 as Chicago knocked the Predators out of the playoffs and moved on to the next round.
It was Crawford, not Darling, in net for Chicago in Game 1 against the Minnesota Wild. After allowing three goals on 33 shots in a Chicago victory, Crawford would go on to stop 59 of the next 60 shots he faced, holding Minnesota to one goal in two games. Chicago would go on to win Game 4, with Crawford stopping 37 of the 40 shots he faced, and once again Chicago would be headed to the conference finals.
Corey Crawford has taken the Hawks to 3 straight conference finals, has won a stanley cup, and is playing for another. Bye crow haters! — #dothething (@notpsharp) May 31, 2015
In the Western Conference Finals, Crawford would once again face criticism, as he got off to a slow start in Game 1 allowing four goals on 27 shots in a Blackhawk loss. In Game 2, Crawford would quiet his critics stopping 60 shots and allowing only two goals in Chicago’s double overtime thrilling win. Following a shaky three games in which Crawford allowed 11 goals on 95 shots, the calls for Crawford’s head once again came out.
In what seems to be a trend, Crawford would once again come out and quiet his critics, allowing only five goals on 65 shots in Games 6 and 7 against the Anaheim Ducks, leading his team to another shot at the Stanley Cup.
Stanley Cup Final
Carrying that momentum into the Stanley Cup Final, Crawford would hold the high scoring Tampa Bay Lightning to only one goal on 23 saves, helping Chicago jump out to a 1-0 series lead. In what seems to be the story of his career, Crawford went from Game 1 hero, to being condemned straight to hell by NBC Analyst Mike Milbury following Chicago’s Game 2 loss.
Crawford’s Game 3 performance did little to quiet his haters, as he allowed two goals in the third period in Tampa Bay’s victory. He would stop 29 of the 32 shots he faced in the game, but his naysayers still had something to say.
Corey Crawford is currently being outplayed by a guy playing on one leg.
— Ken Campbell (@THNKenCampbell) June 9, 2015
If you have been paying attention, then you know how this story plays out.
Following the Game 3 loss, Crawford has allowed two goals on 55 shots, and once again has his team in position to win another Stanley Cup, this team on home ice, a feat that has not been accomplished since 1938. Love him or hate him, you cannot deny his ability of blocking out all the critics and winning the big games.
If you were wondering how King Crow has done since he was benched after Game 2 in the opening series; 12-4-1, 2.15 GAA, and a .937 save percentage.
Matthew Bowen has been covering the Chicago Blackhawks for 5+ years. He has covered the team for websites such as ChiCitySports, Bleacher Report and Blackhawksondemand.