Crawford getting stronger as postseason rolls on

Crawford getting stronger as postseason rolls on

Saturday, April 23, 2011
Posted: 2:02 p.m. Updated: 8:22 p.m.

By Tracey Myers

Corey Crawford said he felt better than he had in a while entering Game 5, the one in which he earned his first career postseason shutout. Two days later, he couldnt really put a finger on why.

Sometimes its just streaks you go on, he said. I think since the game has started players have tried to find out why they feel good one day and not the next. Ill just try to carry this into the next game.

If he does, the Blackhawks should be in good shape.

Crawford was strong in his 36-stop performance in Vancouver on Thursday night, as his game has continued to improve through this postseason. Crawford was especially tough in the third period, when the Canucks outshot the Blackhawks 15-6.

We didnt give him much help in the third period but he was good and made a lot of saves. He pretty much earned that shutout himself, Patrick Kane said. You have to be proud the way hes progressed, not just in the playoffs but the whole year. Hes won some games for us and been the backbone for our team.

For Crawford, the playoffs have just been business as usual. Except that this business is win or go home. Still, Crawfords kept his typical calm demeanor.

Im just kind of going with the experience of this season and learning from that and carrying it into the playoffs. Its the same game, just a little more intense, he said.

It didnt hurt that the Blackhawks staked Crawford to big early leads. Crawford also gave credit to the Blackhawks 20 blocked shots in that game. But Crawford hasnt even let the Canucks get close to getting back into either of their last two victories. Its been more composure for a goaltender that rarely shows if hes rattled.

He carries that quiet confidence all the time, even at points of the season when weve had rough patches, Ryan Johnson said. He carries himself in a way thats way beyond his years. For him to do that, it resonates throughout the whole team.

Crawfords work has even gotten notice from the other side, as Crawford and Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo have worked together in the past and have plenty in common. Both are Montreal natives, both have the same agent and both have worked with longtime goaltending coach Francois Allaire.

Hes a great guy, hes very laid back and a very honest, good goaltender, Luongo said. He doesnt make mistakes; hes very textbook and has good position on the pucks. Ive worked with him a long time in Montreal and I was surprised he didnt make the NHL sooner than that.

While Crawfords won the last two games, Luongos been pulled in them. But Crawford said its more what the Blackhawks have done, not a problem with Luongos game.

Its not like were taking wristers from the goal line and theyre going in. Were getting traffic in front of him, were making it tough on him, Crawford said. Obviously its tough on him. Hes the greatest guy in the world and after two games everybodys on him.

Crawford will make his 33rd consecutive start in Game 6 on Sunday, although he said hed never know its been that many if he wasnt reminded of it. Hes kept himself fresh and is reveling in the playoff atmosphere. Hes not feeling like the new guy anymore. Not playing like it, either.

Hes made a lot of big timely saves that the fellas need, Troy Brouwer said. When youre looking for a save he provides it.

Tracey Myers is's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.

Life was a lot different last time the Blackhawks missed the playoffs

Life was a lot different last time the Blackhawks missed the playoffs

For the first time in a decade, the Blackhawks officially will not be in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

With a 5-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche Tuesday night at the United Center, the Blackhawks will be sitting at home mid-April instead of looking to add to their trophy case.

Exactly 366 days before, the Blackhawks actually became the first NHL team to clinch a playoff berth, also the result of a game against the Avs:

The last time the Blackhawks missed the playoffs, Denis Savard was the coach and Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane were just 19 years old in the midst of their rookie seasons.

The next year, Joel Quenneville took over as coach after four games and led the Blackhawks all the way to the Conference Finals.

Of course, the following year (2009-10 season) brought the first of three Stanley Cups.

For perspective on how incredible this stretch has been for the Blackhawks, here's how the other professional Chicago sports teams spent 2008:

—The Bears finished 9-7 in Matt Forte's rookie year (he's since retired) with Kyle Orton as the starting quarterback and Lovie Smith as head coach.

—The Cubs led the National League in runs scored en route to a 97-win regular season...before falling flat against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS. Lou Piniella was still the manager and Theo Epstein was still three years away from coming to Chicago.

—The Bulls found some incredible luck, pulling the No. 1 overall pick and selecting Chicago native Derrick Rose. He helped the Bulls to a 41-41 season as a rookie under coach Vinny Del Negro.

—The White Sox lost to Joe Maddon and the Tampa Bay Rays in the ALDS after winning the AL Central under manager Ozzie Guillen. Carlos Quentin enjoyed a breakout season (36 HR, 100 RBI) while Gavin Floyd won 17 games. 

The Blackhawks still have eight games left before the 2017-18 season ends April 7.

Alex DeBrincat records third career hat trick, but Blackhawks lose to Blues in overtime

Alex DeBrincat records third career hat trick, but Blackhawks lose to Blues in overtime

For Alex DeBrincat, it was probably nice to hear Chelsea Dagger again.

But how about three times?

The 20-year-old rookie snapped out of a 13-game scoring drought in a big way on Sunday night, recording his third hat trick of the season. DeBrincat did all he could to help give the Blackhawks two points, but they only came away with one in a 5-4 overtime loss to the St. Louis Blues.

DeBrincat is now the first rookie in franchise history with three hat tricks in the same season, passing Steve Larmer. His last two hat tricks came against the Anaheim Ducks on Nov. 27, 2017 and Detroit Red Wings on Jan. 25.

"It's pretty cool," DeBrincat said of his third hat trick, "but I wouldn't be able to do that without the guys we have in this locker room and the linemates I've had. Most credit to them."

Entering Sunday, his last goal was on Feb. 17 against the Washington Capitals.

"Obviously it's frustrating when you go through a slump that like that but what I've learned is to stay positive and there's other things you can help your team win with," DeBrincat said. "Just kind of focus on those things."

He netted goals No. 23, 24 and 25 on the season, tying Patrick Kane for the team lead. He is also tied for second among goals scored by a rookie this season.

DeBrincat opened the scoring with nice wrist shot on the power play to give the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead midway through the first. With less than a minute to go in the period, he tapped one home in front of the net to make it 2-0.

In the third period with the game tied at 3-3, DeBrincat put his team in front 4-3 with 3:13 left in regulation. 

“We were talking about [DeBrincat] today, it had been a while since he had scored," coach Joel Quenneville said. "But whether he scores or not, he does a lot of good things in the game, and he’s very aware of his positioning, and doing the right things, finding pucks, getting in shooting lanes, or denying passing lanes. So he’s effective in a lot of ways, but nice to see him score a nice power-play goal today.”

But Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo even things up again after a shot from the point found its way past J-F Berube with 1:22 left. Patrik Berglund would net the game-winner in overtime to hand the Blackhawks a loss.

"I feel like we’ve played well and we just came up a little bit short," DeBrincat said. "I feel like that’s been the theme of this whole season.”