Blackhawks goaltender Crawford can't get any respect

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford (Rob Grabowski/USA TODAY Sports)

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford (Rob Grabowski/USA TODAY Sports)

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 11:40 PM ET

CHICAGO - When hockey fans are listing off the best game-breaking goalies in the world, the stoppers they want guarding their net when all the money is on the table, a lot of names get dropped before Chicago’s Corey Crawford.

Quick. Price. Lundqvist. Rask. Varlamov. Even Luongo.

But Stanley Cups are won with saves, not reputations, and of everybody ahead of Crawford on the Who’s Who of Goaltenders list, he’s the only one with a chance to win back-to-back championships.

And if you ask around, or look at the numbers, you’ll find a lot of evidence to suggest he’s as good or better than any of the superstars ahead of him on hockey’s marquee — at least when it counts.

“I think he keeps getting better and better,” said Chicago captain Jonathan Toews. “As a team, we want to keep raising our level of play as the stage gets bigger and bigger and if there’s anyone who’s doing it, it’s Crow.

Through two rounds and change in this year’s playoffs, Crawford leads the NHL in goals against average (1.90) and save percentage (.933).

“He was not just good, but he was unbelievable last year in the playoffs. This year I think he’s even better” said forward Marian Hossa.

It’s his mental strength that impresses his teammates the most. When fans at the Xcel Center tried getting into his kitchen in the second round, he responded by ramming Game 6 down their throats, stopping 34 of 35 shots in a 2-1 overtime victory.

“Chanting his name in different buildings, seems like it doesn’t bother him at all,” said Hossa. “He’s so strong mentally, he’s become one of the top goalies in the league.”

He still isn’t considered to be a part of that elite club in a lot of circles outside Chicago, but Crawford doesn’t seem to care that much.

“The confidence has always been there,” he said, adding it comes from having a strong work ethic. “The first thing is being prepared, to try and have my game at the highest level it can be each time I get out there. It’s also knowing the other team, their tendencies. After that, it’s just going out there and playing. Also, I’m getting a lot of help from our guys in front of me.”

The respect he deserves for being a money goalie? That will have to wait, it seems.

Even after he bettered Jonathan Quick in Game 1 on Sunday, after having eliminated him last spring, Crawford was still answering questions about the stress involved in facing off against an opposition goaltender with such intimidating credentials.

“Unless he skates down the ice and starts dangling around our guys, I’m focused on their players,” he laughed. “It really doesn’t affect my game, whatever goes on at the other end.”

 


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