Corey Crawford's performance in the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs against the Phoenix Coyotes had many people worried heading into the 2013 version. After posting an 8-4 record with a 1.70 GAA through the first two rounds, perhaps, no Blackhawk deserves "most improved" more than the 27-year-old netminder.
Crawford gave up 14 goals over the seven games with Detroit and significantly picked up his play after the Blackhawks went down, 3-1, in the series. Crawford let up just one goal in the Game 4 loss, as well as the wins in Game 5 and 7. He posted a 0.96 save percentage in each of those games.
Perhaps, his best performance however came in Game 6, where his side was outshot, 38-28. After letting up a soft goal that put Detroit up, 2-1, at home heading into the third period, Crawford and his defensemen locked down, allowing for the Blackhawks to come back and win the game, 4-3. The only goal he allowed in the third came in the final minute after the Wings pulled Howard for the 6-on-5 advantage.
After backup goaltender Ray Emery suffered a late-season injury, there was no question that Crawford would be the man in net for the Blackhawks. There were several questions, however, as to whether or not he could get the job done after the previous playoff series in 2012 against Phoenix.
So far, he has answered the call and is the biggest reason the Blackhawks were able to come back and survive the series against Detroit. His next step will need to be a big one as well, as he'll be asked to outplay 2012 Conn Smythe winner Jonathan Quick.