Corey Crawford started the 2011-12 season with two things: a new $8 million contract and positive momentum from an impressive playoff performance.
The 28-year-old still has the contract, but the positive momentum is gone after a challenging second year as the Blackhawks’ starting goalie.
“I feel like I need to kind of redeem myself a little bit,” Crawford said Friday, per the Chicago Tribune. “I’ve been waiting and waiting and waiting and finally it’s here so I’m getting excited and ready to go.”
Crawford, along with backup Ray Emery, struggled all season to give their team consistent goaltending. But barring a trade (for, say, Roberto Luongo), the same duo will be back between the pipes.
In July, ‘Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said he expected Crawford to bounce back.
“I’m very comfortable and confident with Corey,” Quenneville said. “You look at the history of goaltenders around the league…there is a little bit of a bounce factor in that second year. A number of top goalies have had that career path. We anticipate Corey getting right back on track.”
The Blackhawks could certainly help their goaltenders by playing better in front of them.
Said GM Stan Bowman after his team failed to advance past the first round of the playoffs: “Our goaltending in general was not our strength this year. [But] I don’t think it’s fair to lay the blame on Crawford. You win as a team and you lose as a team. We need to be stronger defensively and that includes our team commitment to defense, not simply the goaltender and not simply the defensemen. It’s really a team concept.”