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Blackhawks coach blames Corey Crawford’s struggles on sophomore slump

Jul 11, 2012, 8:30 PM EDT

Pittsburgh Penguins v Chicago Blackhawks Getty Images

Perhaps the Chicago Blackhawks’ defense allowed quality chances in the limited shots that Corey Crawford saw against the Phoenix Coyotes, but it still seemed pretty clear that Crawford’s faults were magnified in that series. That first-round loss might just have been the low point in a series of struggles for Crawford after a surprisingly successful rookie season, but coach Joel Quenneville hinted to Jesse Rogers that it might have just been a sophomore slump.

“You look at the history of goaltenders around the league … there is a little bit of a bounce factor in that second year,” Quenneville said. “A number of top goalies have had that career path. We anticipate Corey getting right back on track.”

That may be true, but there are plenty of netminders who essentially were one-hit wonders. Guys like Andrew Raycroft and Steve Mason earned Calder Trophies only to see their career outlooks decline from “star of the future” to scratching and clawing just to retain a backup gig.

The difference between being a successful NHL goalie and a “sieve” often comes down to stoping one or two percent more shots than the other guy, so any number of factors can explain a downfall. Perhaps a breakout rookie believes his own hype and rests on his laurels a bit. Maybe it’s like a major league pitcher; after a year or so, people figure out your weaknesses and you can’t “sneak up” on anybody anymore.

Of course, there’s also the distinct possibility that a given goalie just isn’t very good.

Really, the only time Crawford looked truly exceptional was when the Blackhawks almost came back from a 3-0 deficit to beat the Vancouver Canucks in a series in 2011. Crawford racked up an impressive .927 save percentage in that seven-game series but eventually fell to Vancouver.

His 2010-11 numbers were solid, but not quite spectacular. No doubt about it, Crawford’s stats tumbled last season, forcing Chicago to do some soul searching. They seem content to roll with Crawford – who has two more years left on his contract – for now, but we’ll find out soon enough if 2011-12 was a bump in the road or merely a sign of things to come.

  1. nhlobsessed - Jul 11, 2012 at 8:50 PM

    I know I’m going to have a lot of people yell at me for my comments, and to that I say bring it on, but:

    I personally believe Crawford will rebound this season. Will he be an “elite” goalie? Probably not. But I believe he’ll be a very capable goalie. I have faith in him and believe he’ll turn things around. And if I’m wrong, then I will admit to that when (and IF) the time comes.

    Honestly, I think Crawford’s biggest problem is that he gets in his own head. When that happens everything goes downhill. He needs to learn to shake things off, let things go, and move on from them like they never happened. Take the lessons from the mistakes, but leave the rest alone. Once he figures out how to get out of his head, he’ll be fine. (As a head-case myself, I can speak to this).

  2. mathieug79 - Jul 11, 2012 at 10:08 PM

    I Remember him playing for the Moncton Wildcats, he’s come a long way. He’s probably never going to be an Elite goalie. But he moves like a robot, he’s got no style, but hell he gets the job (or use to). I would give him a chance to prove himself as a #1 this season, if he doesn’t get the job done, trade for a tender half way through the season.

  3. xaf605 - Jul 11, 2012 at 10:59 PM

    Ive said crawford sucked from day one and im sticking to my guns maybe he can prove me wrong if hes around long enough

  4. esracerx46 - Jul 11, 2012 at 11:52 PM

    The dude spent 5 years in the minors. And he is not Tim Thomas. 2010/2011 was a fluke…..but heres to hoping it wasnt!

  5. comeonnowguys - Jul 12, 2012 at 8:57 AM

    He only needs to be exceptional if he’s on a shotblocking, trapping, defensive team.

    With a team like the Blackhawks, he only really needs to be good. Which he wasn’t for big chunks of last season.

  6. redwingsfan999 - Jul 12, 2012 at 11:09 AM

    Crawford played good his rookie season due 2 chicagos defense. And played decent his 2nd year due 2 chicagos defense again. Without good defense Crawford is not a good starting goalie. He lets in soft goals and doesn’t know where the puck even is sometimes. If it weren’t 4 chicagos defense he would be no where. Trust me I’m a wings fan and the wings face Chicago 6 times a year so who else would see it better. Crawford is no more than a back up goalie @ best

    • esracerx46 - Jul 12, 2012 at 11:37 AM

      Who would see it better? A hawks fan.

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