Blackhawks

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
CSNChicago.com

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

2019 NHL Draft Profile: D Bowen Byram

2019 NHL Draft Profile: D Bowen Byram

From June 10-20, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile one top prospect per day — 11 total — leading up to the 2019 NHL Draft as the Blackhawks prepare to pick third overall.

Bowen Byram

Position: Defenseman
Height: 6-foot-1
Weight: 193 pounds
Shoots: Left

Scouting report from Blackhawks vice president of amateur scouting Mark Kelley:

"He's had an outstanding year. Second half of the year he's really been outstanding. He really kind of drew a lot of attention to himself. Well-deserved. He's a dynamic player and he affects the outcome of a game."

Byram describes his own game:

On Duncan Keith comparisons: "I would say that’s pretty accurate. He’s a really energetic guy, good on both sides of the puck, kills penalties, runs the power play. That’s kind of how I’d describe myself, for sure. That’s definitely a fair comparison."

NHL player comparable: Duncan Keith

Fit for Blackhawks:

The Blackhawks have used their last three first-round picks on defensemen, but positional needs aren't a priority when you're drafting this high — although, in the grand scheme of things, it's a pressing need despite the overflow of defensemen in the pipeline. TSN's Craig Button has said multiple times on the Hawks Talk Podcast that Byram is a future No. 1 defenseman in the NHL, and he would immediately become the top prospect in the organization.

Byram, known for his swagger and two-way game, has drawn comparisons to Drew Doughty and Keith, both of whom have won a Norris Trophy — Keith has two. More importantly, Doughty and Keith also have their names on the Stanley Cup multiple times and were both driving forces during those title runs. These are the types of defensemen you win championships with.

Byram set records in the Western Hockey League as a 17-year-old, and he could probably step into the pros immediately. But that's asking a lot for a defenseman, so he'd be more likely to become an everyday NHL player starting in 2020-21.

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2019 NHL Draft Profile: C Trevor Zegras

2019 NHL Draft Profile: C Trevor Zegras

From June 10-20, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile one top prospect per day — 11 total — leading up to the 2019 NHL Draft as the Blackhawks prepare to pick third overall.

Trevor Zegras

Position: Center
Height: 6-foot-0
Weight: 169 pounds
Shoots: Left

Scouting report from Blackhawks vice president of amateur scouting Mark Kelley:

"Trevor is a high skilled centerman, very good skater, very, very creative, comfortable and creative with the puck."

Zegras describes his own game:

On his creativity: "I think growing up, watching a bunch of guys in the NHL like Patrick Kane mess around the ice, just something I’ve always done as a little kid. Maybe I rolled into the driveway and work on fun passes. It’s what I’m really good at."

NHL player comparable: Patrick Kane

Fit for Blackhawks:

Talk to any player on USA Hockey's National Team Development Program and they'll say Zegras was the most offensively gifted player of the group, which is saying a lot when you consider some of the names he's up against (Matthew Boldy, Cole Caufield, Jack Hughes, Alex Turcotte, to name a few).

At the NHL scouting combine, Zegras mentioned Kane several times as somebody he tries modeling his game after. The vision, the passing, the skating, the playmaking ability, the hockey IQ. He has it all offensively, and also doesn't get enough credit for his two-way game.

Zegras is somebody that has quickly been rising on draft boards, and it's because he has the potential to be a 90-point player in the NHL as a center. His name has been discussed by the Blackhawks at No. 3 and he's certainly a tempting option. Pair Zegras with Kane for the next decade and it's scary to think about the numbers the two could put up together.

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