CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 2: Goalie Corey Crawford #50 of the Chicago Blackhawks makes a save in Game Two of the Western Conference Final against the Los Angeles Kings during the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the United Center on June 02, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)

Corey Crawford has been ‘awesome’

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Before this season began, Chicago was frequently mentioned as a possible destination for Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo because, after all, what the Blackhawks need more than anything is a goaltender.

That sentiment actually wan’t unfounded given Corey Crawford’s rough sophomore campaign, but even after he posted a 1.94 GAA and .926 save percentage in the 2013 regular season, there were still plenty of people that doubted his abilities.

It’s only after he played a key role in Chicago overcoming a 3-1 deficit against the Detroit Red Wings and outdueled Conn Smythe Trophy winner Jonathan Quick through two games in the Western Conference finals that the 28-year-old netminder’s recent accomplishments are getting recognized.

“Yeah, he’s awesome,” Chicago’s Patrick Sharp, who has been pretty good himself, said of Crawford. “Been answering questions all year about Corey, if he’s the No. 1 guy, if he can do it. Said the same answer all along. There’s no question in our locker room.

“He’s the guy we want in net back there. He’s proven it in the past. It’s nice to see him finally get the credit that he deserves.”

Just to put some numbers on what Crawford has done in the playoffs, his 1.67 GAA is the best out of anyone who has gotten at least one start in the postseason and his .938 is only a sliver behind Quick’s.

“I feel like I’ve been pretty strong, pretty consistent this year,” Crawford said after Game 2. “I’ve taken pride in that this year, to have the same game every night, give our guys a chance.

“With a team like this, you know, we have such a great offense, just give our guys a chance and make sure it stays within a goal or two, and we’re in good shape.”

The Blackhawks certainly are in good shape right now, and it’s not just because of their potent offense.

Related:

Video: Toews, Crawford get involved in rough stuff

Ducks likely to recall Khudobin after Gibson injury

Chicago Blackhawks' Richard Panik (14), of Slovakia, collides with Anaheim Ducks goalie John Gibson (36) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Chicago. Anaheim won 3-2 in overtime. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
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“Costly victories” may have been one of the themes of Saturday night, as some teams paired impressive wins with worrisome injuries.

The good news is that, in each case, it appears that the early word is optimistic about those players (Tyler Seguin got stitched up in the Stars’ win, for example).

The Anaheim Ducks are reportedly readying to recall Anton Khudobin on Sunday after John Gibson suffered an upper-body injury during a collision with Chicago Blackhawks forward Richard Panik.

Again, so far the hope/expectation is that this might not be a major issue:

The pessimistic take would be to wonder “Uh oh, is the Ducks goalie carousel starting again?”

Frederik Andersen has seen some runs as Anaheim’s No. 1 guy, so maybe this issue is a reminder that the Ducks may be better off keeping both Gibson and Andersen around … at least while they can.

Stars end Capitals’ winning streak, pass Blackhawks for West lead

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For two periods, the Dallas Stars seemed to say, “Are you sure the Washington Capitals are the best team in the NHL?”

They chased Braden Holtby and built a 4-0 lead through those first 40 minutes, and that was enough … but barely. The Stars beat the Capitals 4-3 on Saturday, which accomplished the following:

  • Dallas ended Washington’s winning streak at five games. The Stars have now won three straight.
  • This win slides the Stars ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks for first place in the highly competitive Central Division. While both teams sit at 77 standings points, Dallas holds three games in hand.
  • By passing Chicago, the Stars now lead the Western Conference as a whole.

Impressive stuff. Some might even call it a statement game, although others may hold that nail-biting ending against them (possibly arguing that the Stars’ flaws may come back to haunt them in the playoffs).

Dallas’ biggest concern likely has little to do with doubters. Instead, they must monitor the statuses of forwards Tyler Seguin and Cody Eakin.

Long story short, the Stars are red-hot, yet bigger challenges likely lie ahead.

Blackhawks fall to Ducks in OT, lose Hossa to injury

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The Chicago Blackhawks are on edge on Saturday, and it’s not because of what’s currently a close game against the Anaheim Ducks.

(Not that they’re indifferent toward a match against their opponents from last year’s conference final match, mind you.)

Instead, the Blackhawks are quite concerned about the health of Marian Hossa, who needed help off of the ice following an awkward, scary-looking crash into the boards. (Hampus Lindholm delivered the hip check that sent Hossa sprawling, in case you’re wondering.)

You can see that moment in the video above, while My Regular Face’s GIF also captures that troubling moment:

It’s too early to tell if Hossa will bounce back or miss some time from this. Stay tuned for potential updates.

Update: Joel Quenneville seems optimistic about Hossa, broadly speaking:

Ryan Getzlaf scored the overtime game-winner as the Ducks won 3-2 (OT).

Understatement: Saturday was a rough night for Panthers

Nashville Predators center Colin Wilson (33) checks Florida Panthers center Jonathan Huberdeau (11) during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
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If it weren’t for Mike Yeo and the Minnesota Wild, you could argue that the Florida Panthers suffered from the worst night so far.

You can see that Saturday was unpleasant merely from looking at the scoreboard: the Nashville Predators pummeled the Panthers by an unkind score of 5-0.

The pain goes beyond that … literally so.

For one thing, Quinton Howden suffered an upper-body injury and did not return. That’s no good, but if you want to feel sick to your stomach, footage of Brandon Pirri‘s likely lower-body injury (ankle maybe?) may do the trick.

(Seriously, you may be happier if you don’t look.)

The Panthers didn’t make an announcement about Pirri one way or another, so we’ll see if he somehow avoided anything significant.

Either way, it was a night this team would like to forget.