Crawford has finally erased all doubt

Crawford has finally erased all doubt
Crawford has been one of the bright spots for the Hawks this season

It's finally happened.  At least I think it has.

For most of the 2013 hockey season, a large vocal portion of  Blackhawk fans and critics have been critical of Corey Crawford.  Never mind the fact that his 1.94 goals against average was good for third among goalies in the regular season.  His save percentage of .927 was good for seventh.  In the playoffs, Crawford is tops in goals against and second in save percentage.

Despite all that, it took last night's effort against the Boston Bruins to silence his critics.

Crawford was the difference in the Hawks' 4-3 triple overtime victory in Game One of the Stanley Cup Final.  He made 51 saves, including this huge save on Patrice Bergeron after Zdeno Chara rang the post in the second overtime.

In fact, Bovada.lv has Crawford as a 7/4 favorite to win the Conn Smythe Trophy for playoff MVP.

It's been a long time coming for Crawford, who had struggled with soft goals and mental blocks in his career.  Sure, the occasional soft goal still gets by Crawford (like they do for every goalie).  This season, he's been able to rebound from a bad goal or a bad start and come back strong.  His ability to shake off bad moment and recover has been difference this season.

Crawford has turned the corner in his NHL career.  He's the Hawks goaltender of the present.  With his contract up after next season, the Blackhawks will need to decide if he's their goaltender of the future.

Earlier this month, the Blackhawks signed Finnish goaltending sensation Antti Raanta to a one year deal.  That makes Crawford's future very interesting.  If Raanta can prove he's the next Jonas Hiller, the Hawks will have a tough decision on their hands.

 

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    I wonder if people in LA talked half as much about the "soft" goal Quick gave up in game 5 as people in Chicago do about the ones Crawford occasionally lets by? The Hawks won the Jennings trophy for fewest goals with a protected net, yet people say "it was because of Emery playing half the games, and what about the defense?" instead of giving credit to Crawford. I loved hearing the cheers for Crawford recently, but I wonder how many of them are from people who have spent a lot of time booing him?

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