Cubs

Crawford: My game is coming together

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Crawford: My game is coming together

Corey Crawford said his confidence never waivered. His game, however, did.

For part of this season Crawford wasnt looking like the strong, dependable goaltender that led the Blackhawks to the playoffs last season and earned him a three-year deal during the summer. He looked shaky, uncertain. Not confident.

But as the season wound down a switch flipped. The reliable, solid and yes, confident Crawford re-emerged. And now, hes looking very much like he did last season.

When Crawford starts Game 1 against the Phoenix Coyotes on Thursday, hell be going in riding a good streak. Since coming in to relieve Ray Emery on March 13, when he stopped all 18 shots he saw en route to a shootout victory over St. Louis Crawford is 8-1-2. Crawford never did get that elusive shutout this season, but he did get his game back to a better form by seasons end.

I like the way hes finished a big stretch of the season, the important part going into the playoffs, coach Joel Quenneville said. Hes got some momentum in his game and he was instrumental in us getting into the playoffs.

Crawford loves this time of year, as evidence by his work last spring against the Vancouver Canucks. He was tremendous, and just about goaltended the Blackhawks into the second round. He made some adjustments to his game late this season, and theyve paid off.

My timings on and I feel good, he said. Im picking the right spots to be aggressive and when to sit back a little bit. It just seems like my game is coming together.

And it couldnt happen at a better time.

I think hes really stepped up his game a few levels, Patrick Sharp. There were a lot of times last year (going into the playoffs) when we were answering questions about him, if he could do it. He was our best player in that Vancouver series. Hes gearing up to play well and we know he will.

Crawford said he never lost confidence. Nevertheless, it looks like hes regained his game.

He was huge in our success last year, just getting to the playoffs. He won a lot of games for us; Joel likes to call them goalie wins, and he did a lot of that for us last year, Patrick Kane said. Sometimes you go through lulls in the season; you can say that about me, too. But the most important time of the year is right now, and hes performing at his best right now. So thats nice to see.

Sports Talk Live Podcast: Have the Cubs turned the corner?

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USA TODAY

Sports Talk Live Podcast: Have the Cubs turned the corner?

Hub Arkush, David Schuster and Mark Grote join Kap on the panel.

0:00- The Cubs sweep the Marlins and have won 7 of their last 10. Have they finally turned the corner?

8:00- The White Sox keep playing but the controversy surrounding Tim Anderson's bat-flip-heard-round-the-world continues. Does baseball need to lighten up or does Anderson deserve some blame?

14:30- The guys remember Chet Coppock. The "Godfather of Sports Talk Radio" died at the age of 70.

18:00- Carlos Zambrano drops by the studio. He talks to Kap about his comeback with the Chicago Dogs, his thoughts on the Cubs winning it all and his hopes to once again pitch in the majors.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

Cubs Talk Podcast: Carlos Zambrano drops in & a statistical deep-dive with Chris Kamka

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Carlos Zambrano drops in & a statistical deep-dive with Chris Kamka

Luke Stuckmeyer and Chris Kamka go through some fun and perhaps meaningful numbers through the Cubs' first 17 games, including good trends for the starting pitching and puzzling numbers for Kris Bryant & Anthony Rizzo (1:30). Then, David Kaplan catches up with former Cubs ace Carlos Zambrano, who discusses his comeback attempt with the Chicago Dogs, his accomplishments while he pitched for the Cubs, and his newfound commitment to his faith (10:30).

Listen to the full episode here or via the embedded player below: