Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Not even a win could insulate Corey
Crawford from criticism after his Chicago Blackhawks took Game 4, but the
goaltending experts will have little to say after his rebound performance on
Even though the Blackhawks held on for a 6-5 overtime win in Wednesday's wild
contest in Boston, the subject of Crawford's weak glove hand was a common
topic among hockey fans in the ramp-up to Game 5. After stopping 23-of-24
shots in Saturday's pivotal 3-1 win against the Boston Bruins, however, it's
doubtful we'll be hearing as much about Crawford's catcher before Chicago goes
for a Stanley Cup clinching win on Monday.
Backing a two-goal performance from Patrick Kane, Crawford allayed any
lingering fears about his perceived flaws in net and helped Chicago take a 3-2
lead in the series. It wasn't a spectacular or flashy performance but it was
more than enough to give the Blackhawks the upper hand.
Crawford is well acquainted with critics. Many of them placed the blame for
Chicago's first-round exit against Phoenix last spring squarely on his
shoulders. Then after Crawford went 19-5-5 with a 1.94 goals against average
during this year's shortened season, the naysayers said Ray Emery should be
installed as the No. 1 for the playoffs.
"I'm not really listening to it," said Crawford after Game 5. "I have a job to
do. Whatever is being said doesn't really affect what I'm going to do on the
Perhaps, the 28-year-old's long road to the NHL after being picked by Chicago
in the 2003 draft has given Crawford thick skin but his approach in handling
the critics should've been a good sign the goalie would bounce back on
Saturday. He could've became indignant about those folks who were questioning
his prowess after Game 4, but Crawford chose to laugh off his detractors
"Last series they were talking about my blocker side," said Crawford. "Both
sides are bad, I guess."
Crawford did allow a goal on his glove side in Game 5. However, when the shot
in question is a laser off the stick of Boston defenseman Zdeno Chara, owner
of the hardest slapshot ever recorded, it's unlikely Crawford will be hearing
much about letting that one by.
"Rock solid," said Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville about Crawford's
Game 5. "You know, I think everybody was asking going into it, Corey just
moves forward. He's big, he moves, he anticipates, and nothing bothers him,
and just looks to look after the next shot."
While the bounce-back effort from Crawford was huge for the Blackhawks, so was
the havoc created by Kane, who seemed to have a puck-attracting magnet on his
stick the whole night. After beating Boston goaltender Tuukka Rask twice in
Game 5, Kane is gaining traction as a Conn Smythe contender. His nine goals
this spring are second in the NHL to teammate Patrick Sharp, and Kane's 19
total points leaves him behind only Boston's David Krejci.
While Kane could be close to adding a playoff MVP to his mantle, the
Blackhawks may have to clinch a title without the help of their 2010 Conn
Smythe winner, Jonathan Toews. Chicago's captain was leveled on a hit by
Boston's Johnny Boychuk in the second period and returned for only a few
shifts before sitting out the entire third.
But Toews, who sat on the bench with his team during the third stanza, seems
to have a better chance to play this Wednesday in Boston than Bruins forward
Patrice Bergeron, who was taken to a Chicago hospital for observation after
suffering an undisclosed injury in Game 5.
The status of both players, who happen to have claimed the NHL's last two
Selke Trophies as the league's top defensive forwards, is a huge storyline
heading into Game 6.
Neither head coach had much in the way of positive information about either
player in their postgame comments. Quenneville said he's "hopeful" Toews will
be ready for Wednesday, while Boston's Claude Julien revealed there was no
update on Bergeron before musing how "there's no concern until you get an
Nobody likes to see injuries, but Crawford has to be glad the story heading
into Game 6 will be about banged-up players and not his perceived lack of a
glove hand. Then again, after his performance on Saturday, it's clear Crawford
was more than capable of putting that issue to rest on his own.
The Sports Network