Hawks' Crawford playing way into Calder picture

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford now has 15 wins and his goals-against average is third in the NHL.

    Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford now has 15 wins and his goals-against average is third in the NHL. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 1/13/2011 6:50 PM

Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford continues to elevate his game.

Maybe now it's time for his profile to get a boost nationally as well.

 

Nowhere to be found in most midseason talk is Crawford's name as a potential candidate for the Calder Trophy as NHL rookie of the year.

You hear about Carolina's Jeff Skinner, who leads all rookies in scoring, and San Jose's Logan Couture, who tops first-year players in goals with 19.

You also hear about Edmonton's Taylor Hall, the dynamic No. 1 pick in last June's draft, Anaheim's playmaking defenseman Cam Fowler and Philadelphia goalie Sergei Bobrovsky.

But where's the love for the 25-year-old Crawford, now with 15 wins and perhaps the main factor in the defending Stanley Cup champs turning around their season after a poor start.

Crawford's 2.14 goals-against average is third best in the league and he will take back-to-back shutouts into Saturday's game at Nashville.

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"I think initially he didn't play much and then you talk about all the young kids coming into the league that get more attention than he did or has gotten," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "His numbers are starting to get your attention, so we'll see.

"It's a long year, but we like the progress he's shown in his game and what he's contributing tour team."

Crawford hasn't allowed a goal since 18:35 of the third period in last Friday's 3-2 win over Ottawa -- a string of 126 minutes and 23 seconds. He made 29 saves in Sunday's 5-0 whitewash of the Islanders and 24 in Wednesday's 4-0 win over Colorado.

"It's nice to have the streak going and it' always in the back of your mind, but it's always about what you do next and your effort," Crawford said. "You have to keep working hard and keep the details good that you have."

There's along list of those "details" that are carrying Crawford along, starting with his confidence and his solid foundation of fundamentals.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"I've always been confident," Crawford said. "That doesn't change no matter what the situation is. That's the first thing, to stay confident.

"I worry about what I can do and make sure my effort and focus is there and rely on my technique and reflexes after that. Everything seems to be falling right now, but I can't think it's going to be easy. It's only going to get harder."

When it comes to goaltending today it's a big man's game with Crawford 6-feet-2 and 200 pounds. When Crawford goes into the butterfly and makes himself big, there's little of the net to shoot other than putting a perfect shot under the crossbar.

"It's a matter of being aggressive," Crawford said. "Our goalie coach (Stephane Waite) makes sure to tell us, stuff in tight make sure we're out and compact so nothing gets through us."

Crawford has shown his teammates he's going to be there for them should a breakdown occur.

"That's huge for any team to be successful, when your goalie makes the big saves when you need them," Fernando Pisani said. "He's done a fantastic job so far. He's been stellar.

"He has great positioning and makes the big save when we need it and it seems to give us a lot of life on the bench. He makes a great save at one end and we get an opportunity at the other."

Added Quenneville: "Every day his approach, he's very focused and quiet. I think he improves every day. He's learning the league and becoming more familiar with his defense in front of him. He's been consistent all year long for us. When you get on a roll you're really finding that puck and it looks big to you."