LOS ANGELES – Corey Crawford knows what he's in for come Sunday afternoon, what the 3-on-3 format in the NHL All-Star Game can bring.
"It depends on the game I guess, but usually it's not favoring the goalies. It's usually a tough time for us," Crawford said with a laugh. "We all know what we're in for. Praying to the gods that we don't get shelled too bad."
This weekend, one which Crawford is celebrating with friends and family in Los Angeles, is another reminder of how far he's come. From getting named to events like this to the Jennings trophies to the two Stanley Cups, the goaltender who took a few more years to break through has reaped the rewards of his hard work.
"I dreamed about it. Playing hockey as a kid, I always wanted to be in the NHL and win a Cup and all that stuff. But growing up you don't really think it's going to happen. The chances of just making the NHL are pretty slim," Crawford said. "To be able to play in a great spot like Chicago, too. it's a great city. To have the fan base we do, not just in Chicago but whenever we go on the road, a lot of our fans follow us. It's a great place to play and I'm happy my career has been there."
Crawford has had another strong season, especially prior to suffering appendicitis in early December. While he's tapered off in recent games, the Blackhawks aren't where they are in the standings without his work this season.
"It seems like he's gotten better and better every year. Him and [Scott] Darling have been the most consistent part of our team and that's a good thing. When you have goaltending that's most inconsistent, that leads to a lot of success," Duncan Keith said. "We don't want to rely on them, like we have sometimes in games, but it's nice to know that they're there for us."
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Entering last season, the thought from many was that a bulk of Crawford's success was still attributed to what (and who) he had playing in front of him. Crawford's proved that thought wrong the past two seasons, especially this one. While the Blackhawks tried to figure out lines and get past lousy starts, Crawford was steady. For him, it's about being ready at all times and about altering his game whenever necessary.
"Adjustments, I think those need to be done all the time," Crawford said. "The game is constantly changing. Players are finding ways to score, power plays are trying to find new looks to create chances, create goals. As a goalie you just have to go with that and try to tweak your game and find out what works for you, too. You still have a base but there are always little adjustments that need to be done here and there."
Crawford always hoped to be here one day. Maybe he didn't take the quickest path. Maybe some of those dues-paying days weren't so far. But he got here, and he's made himself a nice career with the Blackhawks.
"It's been a long road," Crawford said. "Had to go through a lot through the minors, but it's been amazing."