4 Reasons for Chicago Blackhawks Fans to Believe in Corey Crawford

Michael Gibbons@DachicagofanCorrespondent IIJune 4, 2016

4 Reasons for Chicago Blackhawks Fans to Believe in Corey Crawford

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    What a difference a year makes.

    This time last year all was well with the Chicago Blackhawks when it came to who was in net. Corey Crawford was coming off a stellar rookie season and was signed a new three-year deal.

    However, after an up-and-down season questions started to pop up. 

    The Blackhawks openly pursued New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur. Then came the Roberto Luongo rumors, including talk of the Blackhawks trading Dave Bolland for the Vancouver Canucks' netminder. 

    Now that would have been a sight to see.

    With training camp opening a little over a month from now it appears that general manager Stan Bowman is behind Crawford. Unlike last year, Crawford may have to earn the starting job, but he will only have to compete with Ray Emery.

    While Bowman is backing Crawford, much of the fan base is not. Here are a few reasons why they should.

It Could Have Been Him in 2010

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    A lot of people forget that Crawford battled Antti Niemi back in 2009 during training camp. The backup job ended up going to Niemi and the rest is history.

    They are almost identical goalies. Both are 6'2", around 210 lbs and a year apart in age.

    During the 2008-2009 season both found themselves in Rockford playing for the AHL's Icehogs. Crawford went 22-20-3 in 47 games with a save percentage of 92 and a GAA of 2.59. Niemi went 18-14-3 in 38 games with a save percentage of 91 and a GAA of 2.43.

    It was so close that if the puck took a few different bounces during 2009's preseason it could have been Crawford hoisting the cup instead of Niemi.

Sophomore Slump

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    Looking at the numbers, it's kind of hard to say that Crawford suffered a sophomore slump.

    He started the same number of games, won three fewer but also lost one less. The biggest difference was the extra 18 goals he allowed.

    This is one of those instances where what you saw on paper was different than what you saw on the ice. While Crawford began and ended the season on fire what happened between November and February was a different story.

    Crawford ended up losing the starting job in both December and February before regaining it. In November, January and February he posted save percentages below 90 percent.

    Compare that to October, December, March and April when his save percentage was over 91 percent. Now a few percentage points doesn't sound like a lot but in hockey it means everything.

    More important than the number of goals he allowed was when he allowed them.

    On numerous occasions Crawford let in soft goals or worse allowed the opposing team to score quickly after the Blackhawks hit the back of the net. 

    If Crawford can stay focused and become more consistent it will go a long way to regaining the fans' trust.

2011 Playoffs

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    If you doubt that Crawford can carry a team to the Stanley Cup all you have to do is look at his 2011 playoff performance. 

    Against the top-seed Vancouver Canucks, Crawford won three games with a shutout and a save percentage of 92.77 percent. He allowed 16 goals during those seven games, two of which went to overtime. 

    If it weren’t for an awful turnover by defenseman Chris Campoli in Game 7, maybe the Blackhawks would have beat the favored Canucks. 

    Crawford's 2012 playoff performance against the Phoenix Coyotes summed up his sophomore season perfectly. At times he looked lights out, like in Game 4, and other times he looked bad with his team offering little help, like in Game 5.

    If the blue line is able to stay healthy in front of him I would expect to see the guy we saw in 2010 against Vancouver.

He Wins

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    To quote the song "All He Does is Win," used in reference to Tim Tebow, I think it works for Corey Crawford as well.

    Crawford has racked up 63 wins over his first two full seasons in the NHL. He has helped his team make it to the playoffs in both of those years.

    He has a 91 percent save percentage and a GAA of 2.51 for his career. While those numbers might not be Vezina-worthy, they are nothing to balk at. 

    In fact, his numbers are very close to that of Jonathan Quick who just helped the Los Angeles Kings hoist Lord Stanley's Cup. Quick won 60 games and had a GAA of around 2.5 during his first two seasons.

    At 27, Crawford's best is yet to come. With an improved, healthy defense it's not unwarranted to say he could win 40 or more games. Like Bowman, Crawford has my support.

    Does he have yours?