Rozner: Crawford not among Blackhawks' worries
This certainly has been an odd season for the Blackhawks and it shows no signs of normalizing any time soon.
But nothing is more bizarre than the continued questioning of Corey Crawford, who has been great in 2014-15 with the exception of a couple weeks following his return from an off-ice injury.
Save those games, Crawford has been terrific, and the last week he's been even better as the Hawks have been staggered by the loss of Patrick Kane.
Crawford has carried the Hawks and that is nothing new, yet he can never seem to win the hearts and minds of a healthy percentage of Blackhawks Nation.
Maybe it's just the backup-quarterback syndrome, because it otherwise makes no sense.
The Hawks have several major problems right now, and Crawford would be no higher than dead last on the list of worries.
Yet, even on the game-winner Sunday against New York, Crawford took some criticism for allowing the overtime goal after he was the reason the Hawks were still alive in a scoreless game.
But this is also nothing new. Crawford was questioned going into the 2013 playoffs, even though he had performed brilliantly during the regular season.
Crawford kept the Hawks afloat when they fought back from a 3-1 deficit against Detroit and was questioned yet again when he went up against Jonathan Quick in the conference finals.
He raised eyebrows when he said before the Los Angeles series that, "I'm really looking forward to going up against (Quick). We'll see who comes out of the next one looking this good."
Crawford outplayed Quick and did the same to Tuukka Rask in the Stanley Cup Final, when he should have been named Conn Smythe, something Patrick Kane fully understood when he collected the hardware instead of his goaltender.
"I think we all know who deserved the trophy," Kane said. "It was Crow."
Yet, during the series against Boston the national media wondered if Crawford would be replaced following a Game 4 victory that tied the series at 2-2, asking Joel Quenneville the day after that 6-5 overtime win if the head coach was considering going to backup Ray Emery.
The same questions were not asked of Claude Julien regarding Rask, who had allowed 6 goals and lost that game -- and the next two as well.
"No one in our room thought that was fair," said captain Jonathan Toews, as his teammates danced with the Cup in Boston. "That was all coming from the outside. We have total belief in Corey and he showed everyone else what he was about during the playoffs.
"He was great. He carried us at times when we weren't playing great. He carried us tonight. He carried us in all those overtimes and gave us a chance. We never get out of the Detroit series without him.
"Corey is an all-star as far as our team thinks, and we don't care what anyone else says about it."
His coach, who's never above prodding Crawford and keeping him sharp, agreed.
"He's the reason we're here and he's the reason we won this game," Quenneville said after Game 6 in Boston. "He's been that way from the start of the year and he was like that throughout the playoff run. Just a tremendous performance from him.
"There's games like this when you need your goalie to keep you in it when the other team plays like the Bruins did tonight. Corey did that for us and I'm not surprised. He's a great goaltender and I'm glad everyone in hockey got to see that."
But there are still those who wonder if Crawford is the right guy. He's hardly perfect, but he's eighth in the NHL in save percentage (.923) and eighth in goals-against (2.23) despite a defense that's been leaky most of the season and is getting more inconsistent by the day.
You want things to worry about?
Kimmo Timonen looks like a 40-year-old who hasn't skated in 10 months, Michal Rozsival looks every bit his age (36), and David Rundblad is having as difficult a time as those two moving his feet when young, fast players are attacking the Hawks.
That's something to worry about while the Hawks wait for cavalry to arrive.
On the game-winner Sunday, it was Jonathan Toews -- of all people -- who failed to track the trailer into the zone during the 4-on-4, and in the ensuing confusion it may have looked like Teuvo Teravainen made the wrong choice.
But it was the captain's guy, and when your best and smartest player makes a mental error, you know your team is on shaky ice at the moment.
You want worries? Be concerned about the offense, which wasn't sharp even before Kane went down, and is struggling to find chemistry with new names in the lineup.
And while Teravainen played his best game as a pro Sunday, Patrick Sharp couldn't hit water if he fell out of a boat that was already under water. Bryan Bickell seems to be waiting for the playoffs again. Secondary scoring is nonexistent. A wretched power play is getting worse.
That's something to worry about.
So there are plenty of concerns as the Hawks try to get it together and make a strong push down the stretch.
The goaltender, fortunately, is hardly one of them.
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