Chicago Blackhawks: Corey Crawford Comes Up Big vs Blues, but It Wasn't Perfect
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Especially heartening for 'Hawks fans is the fact that Corey Crawford was able to get the better of one of the league's best goalies in an early Central Division encounter.
Crawford bested Brian Elliot, coming up large in the final minutes of the game with some key pad saves while St. Louis was employing an extra attacker. Even with Chicago unable to clear the zone in the Blues' attempt to tie the contest, Crawford preserved his team's third victory in as many games.
Elliot kept it close early when the 'Hawks could have jumped out to a big lead, turning away several odd-man rushes in the first period. On this night, however, Crawford was the better man in net.
In his second start of the season, Crawford stopped 32-of-34 shots fired at him by St. Louis. Late in the first period, he robbed Vladamir Taresenko with a left pad save as he was still sprawled out after stopping Alexander Steen's attempt.
Crawford was a big reason for the Chicago win. Still, I can't help but think that he created a bit of this heavy workload himself with his shaky puck handling and mobility. He made some big saves, but he gave the Blues a number of opportunities as well.
Say what you want about Crawford's focus on flexibility, but in the first two games, he seems slow in terms of getting back into position.
Crawford got a bit of help in this area when Andy McDonald took the puck to the net in the second period. He almost looked like a spectator, as Steen lined up a shot at the open net from the right side, and it was Marcus Kruger and Duncan Keith who prevented what appeared to be an easy goal.
Fortunately, the 'Hawks scored moments later to take a two-goal advantage and all was right in the world. Also, to be fair, Crawford did make a great poke-check to prevent a shorthanded chance by the Blues' David Backes just before that goal.
However, Crawford turned over several of the pucks that he went back to play throughout the night, and a better offensive team could have truly made him pay for those giveaways.
Goalies across the league have been going through early season growing pains, so it's hard to judge Crawford's performance too harshly. After all, the kid is 2-0, and he delivered in key stretches on Tuesday. It is just nice to see him playing with some confidence, and hopefully he can keep that up moving forward.
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