Corey Crawford, Chicago Blackhawks: Rookie Goalie Wrestles Away Starting Role

Andy MillerCorrespondent IJanuary 5, 2011

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 15: Corey Crawford #50 of the Chicago Blackhawks takes a break during a time-out of a game against the Colorado Avalanche at the United Center on December 15, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Avalanche defeated the Blackhawks 4-3. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Antti Niemi was a nobody at the beginning of last year. Nobody had heard of the Finnish goalie when he made his NHL debut in his home country in October of 2009.

By the time June rolled around, he was a Stanley Cup winning goalie, had become a fan favorite in Chicago and a household name. Shortly afterwards, as it is well documented, the Chicago Blackhawks were unable to sign him for the amount that he had commanded in arbitration and Niemi signed with the San Jose Sharks for less money. 

The Blackhawks then turned to the Dallas Stars' former standout goalie, Marty Turco. 

After Turco and the entire Chicago Blackhawks team got off to a slow start, highly regarded prospect and rookie goalie Corey Crawford, got his shot to take over the crease. 

And he's proved that the AHL days of playing Rockford are all, but over. 

In his last 15 games, Crawford boasts an 11-3-1 record and is getting the nod against the Dallas Stars tonight.

During an earlier streak this year, Crawford came close to tying a rookie franchise record of most consecutive wins. His streak ended at eight wins in a row.

Crawford's only speed bump to constantly starting was a bout with the flu that he had at the end of December, during which Turco was given the opportunity to start again, and did a phenomenal job. Despite stopping 40 shots in one game, Turco's team lost in his second consecutive start and the team has since turned back to Crawford. 

While the crease at the United Center doesn't have one of the league's premier goalies like a Roberto Luongo or a Brodeur, it seems that once again, the rookie goalie is the Chicago Blackhawks' best option between the pipes and gives them the best chance to win.