Blackhawks Need Crawford Back Between the Pipes
By Patrick Hoffman
With the NHL season marching into February, it is now when teams start gearing up for a playoff run.
This season, every division is extremely tight. As such, every game is important, every point is crucial, and doing anything and everything to win is all that really matters.
One team that needs to do all of this are the Chicago Blackhawks. As of this writing (January 26, 2018), the team finds themselves four points out of the second wild card spot in the Western Conference.
Teams that are standing in the way of Blackhawks right now are the Anaheim Ducks, Minnesota Wild, and the Los Angeles Kings. These are all solid hockey teams that are capable of winning big games down the stretch, which could end up making life extremely difficult for the Blackhawks from here on out.
In order for this team to stay on the right track the rest of the way, they really need their best player back in the lineup. When you're a team that already includes great players such as Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Brandon Saad, Duncan Keith and a few others, it is hard to believe that not one of them is already the team's best player this season.
That title actually belongs to goaltender Corey Crawford. Crawford has been on injured reserve since December 27th with an upper body injury. Furthermore, Crawford has not played in a game since December 23, so the team has been without him for a month now.
In an article in the Chicago Tribune on January 24, 2018, Blackhawks' head coach Joel Quenneville said that his No.1 netminder could end up rejoining the team right after the All-Star break.
Crawford returning to the line-up would be an absolutely huge boost for this hockey club. In the 14 games without him during this current stretch on injured reserve, the Blackawks went just 6-6-2, certainly not good enough to put themselves in a playoff position.
Truth be told, when healthy, Crawford has been fantastic between the pipes this season. In 28 games this year, the 33-year-old netminder is 16-9-2 with a 2.27 goals against average, a .929 save percentage, and two shutouts.
Time and time again this season, he won games single handedly for his hockey club. He has made the big saves, has kept his team in games that they certainly did not deserve to be in, and his strong play in net inspires confidence for the rest of the team.
This is why they need him back between the pipes as soon as possible. Every game from here on out is a must-win for the Blackhawks if they want to avoid missing the playoffs for the first time since the 2007-08 season.
The only way the Blackhawks are going to make the postseason and be a threat down the stretch is if Crawford is the man in net.
Previously, Patrick has covered the NHL for Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, About.com, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.