Every Monday, we’ll highlight (lowlight?) three of the NHL’s biggest duds from the past week.
1st Dud: Corey Crawford, G, Chicago Blackhawks
Key stats: 3.00 GAA, .897 save percentage.
For some weird reason, the backup goalie always seems to thrive in Chicago. Antti Niemi wrestled the starting gig away from Cristobal Huet two seasons ago; last season, Corey Crawford took it from Marty Turco.
This year, it looks like history’s repeating itself.
Ray Emery is making a serious charge for Crawford’s No. 1 gig, though Crawford’s doing all he can to lose it. After a strong start, Crawford fell off a cliff in November and has now lost five of his last eight starts (and allowed seven goals on 33 shots in losses in Calgary and Edmonton, which seems to have shaken him mentally).
As such, Emery will start his fifth consecutive game Wednesday against Minnesota, an opportunity to build on his stellar December numbers: 3-0-1 with a .943 save percentage, allowing just six goals in four games.
When asked about his goaltending situation, Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville didn’t exactly offer a ringing endorsement of Crawford’s play…or his ability to hang onto the No. 1 gig.
“I think he’s [Crawford’s] been fine,” Quenneville told the Chicago Sun-Times. “He’s working on his game. He’s just waiting for his chance to get back into the net. I think his approach has been fine. We’ll measure a little bit more of that when he gets back in.”
2nd Dud: Cam Fowler, D, Anaheim Ducks
Key stat: 1G-0A-1PT in last six GP.
It might seem harsh labeling the 20-year-old sophomore a dud, so let’s carve Bruce Boudreau a bit first. Anaheim’s new head coach has ridden Fowler hard since coming aboard (there’s gotta be a better way to say that) — with no Lubomir Visnovsky in the lineup, most of the defensive lifting has fallen on Fowler’s shoulders. He played at least 26:14 in each of Boudreau’s first three games, a workload he just didn’t seem ready for. Fowler’s now at minus-13 on the season and on pace for fewer points than his rookie campaign.
3rd Dud: Dustin Brown, LW, LA Kings
Key stat: 1G-1A-2PTS in last eight GP.
The dismissal of Terry Murray has Brown’s fingerprints all over it. The Kings captain has embodied his team’s scoring woes — with just 5G-10A-15PTS, he’s on pace for the worst statistical output since his sophomore season. That’s unacceptable from a guy that’s averaged 27 goals and 56 points over the last four years.