Blackhawks

Lost in Blackhawks' explosive start, Corey Crawford has been stellar in season's first two games

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AP

Lost in Blackhawks' explosive start, Corey Crawford has been stellar in season's first two games

The numbers in the early going are gaudy, for sure.

Two games, 15 goals for a Blackhawks offense that has easily worked in Brandon Saad and Patrick Sharp again and has struck upon a dynamic duo with Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane.

Lost in the shuffle of all of this, however, are equally strong numbers on the other end of the ice. While the Blackhawks’ offense has been overwhelming at one end, Corey Crawford has quietly done stellar work at the other. He’s allowed just two goals in two games and — the sample size being what it is at this point — has gotten off to as strong a start as he did last fall.

“I mean, he made several key saves,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “I like him around the net. He’s cutting off plays that they’re trying to make that could generate even more chances. His anticipation in that area has been outstanding, he’s been moving the puck well, he’s square and seems like he’s very involved. A lot of good things have happened in a couple of games, but Crow’s been rock solid.”

Nobody pictured the Blackhawks putting up 15 goals in their first two games. The sizeable leads, including the Blackhawks’ 5-0 first-period edge over Pittsburgh on Thursday night, have meant less worry. But Crawford said there’s a fine line between being happy with a lead and being comfortable.

“It’s nice to have a cushion, but sometimes in those games it’s easy to let up and try not to let up and let them back in the game. That’s the way we want to start, and we’ve been good in all areas,” Crawford said. “I know we scored a ton of goals, but our defense has been great moving the puck up, getting in the rush, ending plays quick in our zone. Every aspect of our game right now is looking good. We just have to keep that momentum going.”

Crawford usually credits the defense for his victories, and it has played its part. But the Blackhawks’ propensity to get a little scattered in the second period occurred again in their first two games. Both times Crawford was strong, denying breakaways and second opportunities. Crawford talked in the preseason about always working on little things with goaltender Jimmy Waite, and that will continue.

“Sometimes you might not be feeling good in one part of your game. We might work on that in practice. The first two games have been pretty good. I’ve been able to be aggressive when I had to, read it, be patient and stay back a little more on other plays,” he said. “For us, it’s a great start. We’re going into a tough building now against a high-scoring team (Toronto on Monday) and it’s going to be a fun game for us.”

Yes, Toronto also has 15 goals in its first two games, but will Crawford start against the Maple Leafs? Based on his first two performances this season it’s easy to say yes, but remember Tuesday’s game is in Montreal and Crawford has always been spectacular against the Canadiens: 7-0-2, with a 1.55 goals-against average and a .951 save percentage.

Offense has been plentiful, but those numbers are going to deflate at some point. Crawford will once again be critical to the Blackhawks’ success, and he is once again getting the necessary start.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Which Hawks have impressed most during five-game win streak?

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Which Hawks have impressed most during five-game win streak?

On this episode of the Blackhawks Talk Pat Boyle is joined by Jamal Mayers and Brian Campbell. The guys discuss which Blackhawks are on the top of their game. Patrick Kane is certainly on the list after he scored two goals against the Wild, and Corey Crawford has been lights out since his return from injury.

Plus, If Erik Karlsson is on the trade block, how aggressive should Hawks be in acquiring him?

Listen to the full episode of the podcast at this link or in the embedded player below:

As Patrick Kane approaches 300 career goals, Jeremy Roenick says he will be best Blackhawk ever

As Patrick Kane approaches 300 career goals, Jeremy Roenick says he will be best Blackhawk ever

Patrick Kane's career to this point has already cemented him as one of the best Blackhawks ever, but former Blackhawk Jeremy Roenick thinks Kane will stand alone in Blackhawk history by the time he hangs up the skates.

Roenick made a guest appearance on Intermission Live during the first intermission of Sunday's 4-1 Blackhawks win against the Wild, a game in which Kane scored two goals to bring his career total to 299 and move into fifth place in Blackhawks history in goal scored. During the interview, Roenick had plenty of praise for No. 88.

Host Pat Boyle told Roenick that Denis Savard thinks Kane will be the best Blackhawk ever and Roenick agreed.

"I say 100 percent of that," Roenick said. "I say that only because you look at the dynamics of the way this guy plays, you see the way he scares the bejeezes out of other defensemen on other teams, three Stanley Cups, the points that he's putting up, he's going to go down as the best American with Mike Modano."

Kane scored a goal in each of the first two periods on Sunday to give the Blackhawks a fifth straight win. He has 14 goals and 20 assists this season to lead the Blackhawks in both categories. The milestones are falling and more are approaching. Not only is Kane one goal away from 300 for his career, but he is approaching 500 career assists (currently at 487) and 800 career points (currently at 786). He's 29 and showing no sign of slowing down so the milestones should continue to fall, thus making Roenick's argument that he could finish his career as the best ever.

Roenick's predictions didn't stop there. He continued to say Kane and Toews will be honored in another way.

"He's going to have a statue, along with Jonathan Toews, out there on Madison Avenue at one point in their careers, in their lives," Roenick said. "It's well deserved because they really took this organization that was sputtering and have turned it into the best organization in all of sports. They deserve a lot of credit and they will go down as one of the best Hawks ever."

See the video above to watch Roenick's comments.