Behind The Bench: Corey Crawford
Born: December 31, 1984
Wt: 200 lbs
Draft: 52nd overall by the Chicago Blackhawks in 2003
Plays for: Chicago Blackhawks, Goaltender, Catches Left
Jersey No.: #50
Regular Season: 65 GP – 34 W – 21 L – 7 OTL, 2.33 GAA, .917 Sv%
Playoffs: 8 GP – 3 W – 4 L – 0 OTL, 2.26 GAA, .924 Sv%
Did you know crows are a part of the corvid family and they are considered among the most adaptable and intelligent birds in the world?
I guess that’s why Crawford’s teammates and coaches refer to him as “Crow” or it could be that “Craw” sounds similar to the noise that a crow makes. Whatever the case may be he should be thankful his nickname isn’t “Juice.“
Crow started his professional playing career in 05/06 after setting several records with the Moncton Wildcats of the QMJHL. Crawford currently holds the Wildcats record for Best Goals Against Average (2.47 in 04/05). Most Wins (35 in 03/04) and is tied for Most Shutouts in a season (6 in 04/05). Crow played his first professional season with the Norfolk Admirals, he struggled through 48 games, finishing with a 2.94 GAA and a .898 Sv%. He was also called up twice for two one game stints, he was called in to relieve Adam Munnro on January 22, 2006 in the third period. He had his first career start against the St. Louis Blues on February 2, 2006. He finished the night with a 5 GAA on 34 shots in a 6-5 shootout loss. Crawford spent the next 2 season in the AHL in a starter role where he put up good numbers. During the 06/07 season he played in 60 games and post a record of 38-20-2, 2.84 GAA, .909 Sv% and 1 SO and posted similar numbers in 07/08, 55 games played, 29-17-7, 2.83 GAA, .907 Sv% and 3 SO.
The Blackhawks re-signed Crawford to a one-year contract extension. Again Crawford spent the season down in the AHL posting similar stats to his previous AHL seasons. He played 47 games, 22-20-3, 2.59 GAA, .917 Sv% and 2 SO. Crawford made his first NHL playoff appearance against the Detroit Red Wings playing the first 40 minutes until he was benched in favour of Cristobal Huet after stopping 6 of 7 shots. Crow was rewarded for his consistent play with a two-year contract extension from the Blackhawks. He spent the first year of his contract down in the AHL while Antti Niemi helped the Blackhawks to their first Stanley Cup in 49 years.
With the Blackhawks’ cap situation and the departures of Antti Niemi and Cristobal Huet before the 10/11 season, Crawford was promoted as the back-up goalie to starter Marty Turco. Although Crow started as the back-up, head coach Joel Quenneville made it clear that the better goaltender would play. As the season wore on Turco began to struggle for long stretches, by mid November Crow had taken over the starting position. Crow went on to have a sensational rookie season. From November 14 to December 8 Crow went on a 7-game consecutive win streak only allowing 11 goals. In January, Crow put together a 176 minute shutout streak, the longest shutout streak by a Blackhawk since Tony Esposito in 1972. Then from February 20 to March 5, Crow had an eight-game, consecutive win streak, setting a new record for longest consecutive win streak by a rookie goaltender. Crow’s 8-game win streak was 1 game short of a Blackhawk team record set by Glenn Hall. He also became only the second rookie Blackhawk goalie to reach 30-wins in a season since 1994.
Crawford played in 57 regular season games and posted a 33-18-6 record, with a 2.30 GAA and a .917 Sv% with 4 SO adn finished 4th in Calder Trophy voting.
When the Dallas Stars failed to win their last road game of the season the Blackhawks secured the 8th and final spot in the Western Conference. The Blackhawks faced President’s Trophy winning Vancouver Canucks. Crawford struggled in the first 3 games, letting in 8 goals but bounced back in the next 3 only allowing 5 goals. In game 5, Crow recorded a 36-save shutout, the first playoff shutout of his career. The win also marked the largest margin of victory in Blackhawks’ franchise history in a playoff game. Crow’s season ended when Burrows grabbed the puck off of a Chris Campoli clearing attempt and slapped it over his blocker. Crawford ended the playoffs with a 2.21 GAA and a .927 Sv%.
The Blackhawks rewarded Crawford’s stellar rookie season and playoffs with a three-year $8M contract extension.
Crow is expected to be the Blackhawks’ starter next season and will likely start 55-60 games. The Blackhawks recently signed Ray Emery and will be Crawford’s back-up but should Crow struggle, Quenneville will not have a problem benching him in favour of another goalie. With the veteran additions of Steve Montador and Sean O’Donnell and underachiever, Sami Lepisto on the backend, Crawford and the Blackhawks should have a much better season than their last. You should expect a 30-35 wins season from Crow.
Crow is a big butterfly goaltender who is very light on his skates, he can quickly go down into the butterfly and snap back up onto his skates. Crawford is a strong butterfly goaltender but he has the ability to quickly abandon the butterfly and scramble for the puck and make a save with any part of his body a la Dominic Hasek. He also has great lateral movement and go post to post in an instant. Crawford is very large in his net, even when he goes down into the butterfly. When he goes down to his knees, his shoulders are almost at the same height as the crossbar. He has a very active glove hand that he holds slightly in front of his hip. He is the type of goalie that can eliminate time, space and angles despite heavy traffic. Crawford is not a goalie that likes to leave his crease, he will stop backs at the back of the net but relies on his defensemen to move them for him. Another aspect of his game Crow needs to work on his is post attachment. Crawford has a habit of leaving space short side instead of hugging the post.
The biggest area Crow needs to work on is his consistency, consistency is key for Crawford. He is consistent goaltender season to season posting the same GAA and Sv% but the same can’t be said for his performance game to game. One game Crow will look like an elite goaltender and another night he will let in several suspect goals. He needs to work on his consistency from game to game to become one of the elite goalies in the league.
Crow is only 26 years old and only played his first NHL season last year. Crawford is a hard worker, any negatives he currently has in his game will quickly fade with more NHL experience. He’ll be a great goaltender in a few years and will be in the talk for the Vezina Trophy more than once in his career. With the Blackhawks cap situations, there’s no telling if Crow will still be with the Blackhawks in 2 years or if he will be a victim of the cap. Whether he stays with the Blackhawks or he leaves with another team, Crow will go on to have a great NHL career as a starting goaltender.
Anyone who can stop the Sedin Twins on a 2 on 1 rush AND make an unbelieve glove save on Ryan Kesler while laying down on the ice with 95% of the net wide open, without a doubt, is a goal worth your future on.
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