Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford not thinking of his weak glove

Blackhawks goaltender Ray Emery (left) talks to teammate Corey Crawford during practice in Chicago,...

Blackhawks goaltender Ray Emery (left) talks to teammate Corey Crawford during practice in Chicago, June 21, 2013. (JEFF HAYNES/Reuters)

STEVE SIMMONS, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:53 PM ET

CHICAGO - With just about everyone in hockey wondering whether Corey Crawford can stop anything anymore, the goaltender himself wasn't paying too much attention to the noise.

He was too busy celebrating.

"It was overtime," Crawford said in a long conversation Friday morning. "We won a Stanley Cup Final game in overtime. You know what that's like? It's incredible. There's no feeling like it. The whole team was celebrating like it hadn't celebrated all year.

"To be honest, after the last game I was more excited and thrilled about us winning. About the great shot (Brent Seabrook) made. About us being tied (2-2 in the series) instead of us being down."

The last thing Crawford was thinking about was his inability to catch pucks in Game 4. And he wasn't in any way lying when he said that.

It's part of his story, really. Part of who he is and how he got here. The goalie nobody saw coming, who took a long time to get here. Five years of major junior hockey. Four years in the American Hockey League. Crawford is no overnight sensation.

But he is the one player all eyes will be on Saturday night when Game 5 between the Blackhawks and the Boston Bruins will be played at the United Center.

What the Blackhawks keep saying: Crawford was the winning goalie in Game 4. Tuukka Rask took the loss in goal. The great Rask -- and he is exactly that -- allowed six goals in that game. The redoubtable Crawford allowed five, four of them glove side.

"All I know is we won the game," said Duncan Keith, the Hawks defenceman. "I don't hear what's being said out there. I don't pay any attention to it."

Maybe they don't. But in a short practice Friday, it seemed the Blackhawks players were shooting glove side a lot. "I tried it," said Patrick Sharp. "He stopped me." Then he laughed.

Years ago, Crawford admits, a game like the one Wednesday night would have destroyed him. He would have melted down. But he's grown from that youngster, understood about the collective amnesia goaltenders need to move forward.

"In junior, I would have been really deflated from a game like that," he said. "It would have really beaten me up. My confidence would have been really low. There are situations where you would have fallen apart.

"I've had to learn over the years to get through this. You build it up over time. You go through so many experiences and learn from them and take something from them. You have to work on your body language.

"When you get scored on, you can't feel like its the end of the world. That's doesn't help anybody. There's always the next shot to be prepared for. And the next shot after that."

Crawford's wonky catching hand has been the focus of goals allowed in the Final. In the last round of the playoffs, attention was brought to his inability to apparently stop pucks to the blocker side.

"Both sides are bad, I guess."

And then you look at the numbers. Crawford had a 1.94 goals against average during the shortened regular season with a .926 save percentage. In the playoffs, both his goals against and his save percentage have improved, at 1.86 and .931. Those are Stanley Cup winning numbers: And yet clearly Crawford is the second best goalie in this series.

In the two overtime games Chicago has won in the series, 18 goals have been scored. In the two games the Bruins have won, five goals have been scored.

"Our best defence is a good offence," said Chicago coach Joel Quenneville, in perhaps the best definition of the series to date. The Bruins best offence is a good defence. But either way, with three overtime games and 2-0 shutout by Boston, every game has been tight.

Thus making the pressure on Crawford quite intense. We see it that way. He doesn't. "It's more excitement," he said. "Look where we are. Who wouldn't want this? It's the fun of it, the opportunity to win.

"There are times when you think about the last game more than others but this isn't one of those times. At this point, you don't want to be thinking too much about the last game.

He hasn't watched any video yet on Game 4, may not watch any. He will meet with his goalie coach, Stephane Waite, the way he does regularly, "and if he thinks there's something I have to change, I'll change. And if there's nothing, there's nothing. Sometimes you don't know as a goalie. You need that second set of eyes. You may be doing something you're not aware of. You need that extra set of eyes to figure it out. And if there's an adjustment to make, I'll make it...

"Listen, I've been able to deal with some stuff throughout these playoffs and I've got a lot of help from our guys. It's not just the goalie. The whole team has amnesia. Our guys have been awesome. We just keep moving on."

steve.simmons@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/simmonssteve


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