Corey Crawford

PHT’s Three Duds of the Week: Crawford, Fowler and Brown

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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.

Predators smash Sharks to get back in series

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After a dispiriting 1-0 goal allowed by Pekka Rinne, things were looking bleak for the Nashville Predators for a moment there.

Nashville’s developed into a resilient group, however, and they stormed back for a commanding 4-1 win to shrink San Jose’s series advantage to 2-1.

The Predators saw some of their big names come up huge as the series shifted from San Jose to Nashville.

Pekka Rinne looked sharp following that first goal (and didn’t allow another). Their goals came from James Neal, Colin Wilson, Filip Forsberg and captain Shea Weber.

Weber’s tally was the game-winner, and it was downright thunderous:

Another promising sign: after a struggling to a 2-for-31 clip in previous playoff games, the Predators’ power play went 2-for-5 in Game 3.

Overall, the Predators really couldn’t ask for much more from this win, especially if Colton Sissons is indeed OK after a scary crash into the Sharks’ net.

Things could get really interesting if Nashville manages to “hold serve” with another home win on Thursday.

Stars’ goalie carousel goes around again: Lehtonen replaces Niemi

Dallas Stars goalie Antti Niemi (31) subs in for goalie Kari Lehtonen (32) during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015, in Dallas. The Stars won 6-5. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
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It’s pretty tough not to make jokes about the Dallas Stars spending $10.4 million on their goalies at times like these, even if Dallas’ defense should shoulder plenty of blame.

After Kari Lehtonen was pulled from a Game 2 loss, the St. Louis Blues chased Antti Niemi early in the second period of Game 3 after Niemi allowed three goals on 12 shots.

Troy Brouwer‘s 3-1 goal was enough for Lindy Ruff to give Niemi the hook:

Unfortunately for the Stars, Lehtonen got off to a slow start as well, allowing an immediate Vladimir Tarasenko goal.

The Blues are now 4-1 and the Stars are searching for answers … and probably wishing Tyler Seguin was around to help them out-score their problems.

Islanders believe Boyle should be suspended for hit before OT goal

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Thomas Hickey is involved in a controversial hit, yet the greater debate may revolve around the one he received rather than the one he delivered.

In the second period, the New York Islanders defenseman connected for a thunderous hit on Tampa Bay Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin, which sidelined Drouin for a chunk of Game 3.

Many believe that hit was legal:

The Islanders are upset about the Brian Boyle hit on Hickey in overtime, which came moments before Boyle scored the game-winning goal. You can see the full sequence here, with the hit happening around the 50-second mark:

Islanders head coach Jack Capuano believes that it was a suspension-worthy hit.

You’re not going to believe this, but the Lightning disagree.

Boyle clearly didn’t receive a penalty on that sequence, yet one would imagine that the league will at least take a look at that hit.

Lightning take dramatic OT win vs. Islanders, go up 2-1 in series

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Brian Boyle was part of the fight before Game 3 even started … and then he ended it in overtime.

In a Tampa Bay Lightning win in which they just kept rolling with the New York Islanders’ punches, it only seems fitting that Boyle battled to land a big hit and then score the clinching goal for a 5-4 overtime victory.

This gives the Lightning a 2-1 series lead heading into Game 4.

Also fitting? Boyle landed a big hit on Thomas Hickey, the guy who sidelined Jonathan Drouin for a chunk of this contest.

That sequence prompted a brief goal review, but it ultimately stood:

(Was that Boyle hit on Hickey dirty, by the way?)

Drama was in the air from the beginning, yet Drouin really stole the show when he came back from what some believe was a concussion to assist on Nikita Kucherov‘s last-minute goal, which sent the game to overtime.

In some ways, this win feels like a microcosm of the Lightning’s season. They keep getting hit in the mouth with injuries and near-injuries, yet they just won’t stay down.

The Islanders saw three leads disappear in this contest, but one would think that they won’t roll over, either.