Corey Crawford’s start to the 2015 playoffs was hardly idyllic. He was yanked after just 20 minutes in Chicago’s playoff opener because he surrendered three goals on 12 shots. Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville put him back in for Game 2, but after Chicago suffered a 6-2 loss, it was Scott Darling that got the nod for Game 3.
Thus began a goaltending controversy that spanned the first round of the playoffs. Quenneville made it clear that Crawford would start in the second round against the Minnesota Wild and that was the end of the drama between the pipes.
From there the 30-year-old goaltender led the Blackhawks past Minnesota and Anaheim before coming up big in the final three games of the Stanley Cup Final by turning aside 80 of 82 shots. With that Crawford has now won the Stanley Cup twice in three years. He has a 2.23 GAA and .921 save percentage in 76 career playoff games and his 45th postseason wins puts him in a tie with Tony Esposito for the most in franchise history.
“We know who he is,” Brandon Saad told CSN Chicago. “He’s a big time player. He anchors our team and we love him. He’s a great goalie and obviously the rings speak for themselves.”
Crawford might go his entire career with his worth being questioned at every misstep, but it’s hard to deny what he meant to this franchise. All the Chicago dynasty talk exists because players emerged to help fill the void after Chicago’s cap situation forced them to make tough choices following its 2010 championship. Of all the players that have become regulars since the summer of 2010, Crawford has been the most vital.