Fatherhood: Corey Crawford revels in new off-ice role


Fatherhood: Corey Crawford revels in new off-ice role

Corey Crawford is usually a pretty laid-back, happy guy regardless. It’s just his normal demeanor. But ask him about his newborn son, Cooper, and Crawford gets a smile on his face that doesn’t leave throughout the conversation.

“I’m just starting to get used to it. I mean, he’s not doing too much right now. I get to cuddle with him and sit on the couch and watch TV. It’s pretty exciting, though,” said Crawford. “He’s growing every day and I can see he’s starting to notice things. His eyes are wide open, he’s looking at lights all the time. It’s pretty cool; it’s a pretty cool experience.”

When the Blackhawks wrapped up their Notre Dame portion of camp on Thursday, Crawford was among the happiest to get home. He and his girlfriend Kristy welcomed their son on Sept. 5 and while Crawford used FaceTime to see Cooper the past few days, he’s welcoming every moment he gets to spend with him in person.

The days of Crawford’s life being solely about him are gone and the Blackhawks goaltender is loving his first few weeks of fatherhood.

“Everything now is about him. After practice, that’s what I’m thinking about, him and my girlfriend instead of just thinking about myself and trying to get prepared for practice or games or whatever,” Crawford said. “The preparation is still there but more of what I do goes toward him.”

When Crawford’s on the ice he’s focused on his game. Much like the rest of the Blackhawks Crawford was frustrated and angry that the team’s first-round sweep in April. In exit interviews Crawford said he was happy with his first half of the season but not the second – “just didn’t have the same reads, the same jump that I did the first half. Not to say I didn’t play well. There were games I played really well. But there were a lot of games I was ordinary, just average.”

“There are always ups and downs. You just try to limit the downs as much as possible. You don’t want to have too many down games in a row and you want to try to help the team win as many games you can. I don’t mean win the game by yourself but put the team in a position where they have a chance to win every night,” he said. “You just try to be as consistent as you can throughout the year.”

On the ice the job remains the same. Off the ice, things have changed considerably. When Crawford gets in net his thoughts are completely on the game but ultimately, everything he does from here on out is about his son.

“I mean I’ll be thinking of [him] but once the game starts the focus is on the puck. I don’t like to think of other things when I’m playing; try to stay as focused as I can. But I can’t wait until he starts to crawl and I can play with him,” Crawford said, the smile returning again. “It’s definitely a new life right now.”

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Has the championship window closed?


Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Has the championship window closed?

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Jonathan Toews sits down with Pat Boyle for a 1-on-1 interview. Toews weighs in on his season with Brandon Saad, whether he expects major changes this offseason and has the championship window closed?

Also, Adam Burish joins the podcast and plays the game: “Building block, not sure, or no thanks.” Burish runs down the Blackhawks forwards and predicts whether or not they have a future with the team.

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

What should the Blackhawks do in goal next season?

What should the Blackhawks do in goal next season?

The last time the Blackhawks were in Winnipeg they exploded for three first-period goals en route to a 5-1 victory on Dec. 14.

The roles were reversed on Thursday.

It appeared the Blackhawks might be headed for another drubbing when Brandon Saad scored 11 seconds into the game and they were awarded an ensuing power play following a failed offside challenge by the home team, but the Jets killed it off then responded with five unanswered goals over the next 11:53 and didn't look back as Chicago lost 6-2.

Anton Forsberg was pulled for the sixth time in his 27th start this season after allowing three goals on six shots, while J-F Berube gave up two goals on his first five shots before stopping 27 straight. It was the 14th time the Blackhawks allowed five or more goals in a game this season, having done that only eight times last season.

Needless to say, it's been a roller coaster in goal as of late.

To make matters worse, the Blackhawks aren't as optimistic about Corey Crawford returning before the season ends and maybe that's for the better.

But there's a big question mark between the pipes when you factor in Crawford's health and the inconsistency from their backups, which has included Jeff Glass, Forsberg and Berube.

The Blackhawks weren't expecting Forsberg to be the next Scott Darling when they included him in the trade package involving Saad and Artemi Panarin this past offseason, but they were certainly hoping he would be around the league average in save percentage (.913).

Instead, it's slipped to .905, which ranks 43rd of 52 goaltenders that have started at least 20 games this season. That's also his 5-on-5 save percentage, which is 49th out of 52 among goalies with 800-plus minutes of ice time.

When it rains, it often pours with Forsberg in net and he hasn't shown signs of progression to prevent the bleeding from getting worse.

The backup goaltending position is more important than ever in this day and age, especially for the Blackhawks with Crawford likely going into next year having not faced a shot in game action in nine months.

For those reasons, it might be wise for the Blackhawks to strongly consider rolling with Berube as the No. 2 to at least start next season if an external option isn't the preferred direction.

It would allow Forsberg to fine-tune his mechanics, build his confidence and continue his overall development with the Rockford IceHogs in the American Hockey League, where he backstopped the Lake Erie Monsters to their first ever Calder Cup championship in Columbus Blue Jackets franchise history two years ago.

Berube and Forsberg are both under contract for the Blackhawks in 2018-19, and it's no secret there's a belief within the organization that Forsberg has a higher ceiling. He just hasn't been able to reach it yet in the NHL for whatever reason.

There are 11 games left, and it wouldn't be surprising to see Berube get more than half of those.

Yes, his save percentage is one percentage point below Forsberg's at .904. But three of his eight appearances have come in relief.

In his five starts, he has a .908 percentage; in his three relief appearances, it's at .893.

Berube deserves a longer look, one that could carry weight when determining next season's backup.