Corey Crawford is seeing everything pretty clearly right now.
Just in case you weren’t sure how clearly, his numbers tell the tale: of the last 129 shots he’s faced, he’s allowed just five goals. In eight games this season, he’s allowed just four even-strength goals. And as the Blackhawks continue their ups and downs with their overall game, Crawford has been locked into this.
Crawford recorded his fourth victory of the season on Tuesday night, stopping 33 of 34 shots in the Blackhawks’ 5-1 decision over the Calgary Flames. If you didn’t see the game, the score could be misleading. The Blackhawks had a tough go of it for two-plus periods before scoring four times over the final 12 minutes, 16 seconds of the game.
“I’m feeling better and better every game,” Crawford said Tuesday night. “I’m feeling quicker out there reading plays. That’s a big part of it too, is to be able to read a play and get out and be aggressive when it’s time. Just everything is coming together each game; just went out there and battled.”
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Crawford was much like the rest of the Blackhawks at the start of the season: slow out of the gate, struggling to get his game where he wanted it to be. The World Cup of Hockey was a great experience for Crawford, who played one-and-a-half games for Team Canada. But he didn’t get a lot of work, even in practices. And while he got a lot more reps and shots when he returned to Chicago, the results weren’t there early.
“I just didn’t feel great at the start,” he said.
It didn’t help that the Blackhawks’ penalty kill was struggling. Yes, the goaltender is supposed to be the team’s best penalty killer, but players weren’t hanging all the issues on Crawford.
“He may have been a little frustrated when he wasn’t getting the wins. At the same time, he was playing well,” Patrick Kane said. “You could say none of the goals were really his fault, especially with the slump we went through with the penalty kill. He’s always solid, always big in net.”
The Blackhawks are starting to find their way again, be it with their lines, their puck possession or their penalty kill. Crawford righted his game a little sooner. He’s clearly been critical to the Blackhawks’ recent success.
“He’s a world class goalie, and to see what he’s been able to do over the last bunch of years, it’s fun playing in front of him,” Brent Seabrook said. “He always gives us a chance to win.”