Blackhawks’ Corey Crawford gets no love for his glove in Cup final

 

Goaltender can’t catch a break, despite winning, after surrendering five goals on his glove side in Game 5

 
 
 
 
Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford surrenders a goal glove-side in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday at TD Garden in Boston.
 
 

Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford surrenders a goal glove-side in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday at TD Garden in Boston.

Photograph by: Brian Babineau, NHLI via Getty Images

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CHICAGO — Corey Crawford’s catching glove — what we used to call a “trapper” back when they were the size of a first baseman’s mitt, with maybe a six-inch cuff — is like all modern goalie gloves, roughly the circumference of a Chinese wok.

It is frankly amazing that the Boston Bruins could miss it five times in a single game, let alone on purpose.

But it’s all there on video: the Bruins scored five goals in Wednesday night’s 6-5 overtime Game 4 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, and all five were on the goalie’s glove side.

Some consider this mere happenstance. Long, screened shots. One that came back off the glass behind the net, bounced on the roof of the cage and right onto Patrice Bergeron’s stick in the goal crease. Not exactly a masterpiece of strategic planning, that one.

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville, who is about as revealing of his actual thoughts in an interview session as your average clam, basically says it was just one of those games when pucks were going in, both ways, and there’s nothing to see here, so move along, folks.

“He's fine. I think that the scrutiny of goaltending at any stage of the season is at a different level of any other player, and I guess it's even more out there now that you're in the Final,” said Coach Q.

“But Corey just seems to move forward, whatever the challenge is: the next shot, the next game. He's excited about the opportunity. He won a big game for us, and that's where we're at.”

Of course, he also said of Marian Hossa, who didn’t practise again Friday: “He’s fine.”

So take that for what it’s worth.

On the chance that it might be more than coincidence, though, reporters began seeking further opinion, such as from the Blackhawks’ highest-scoring forward, Patrick Sharp.

About Corey’s glove ...

“I tried today and he stopped me glove side, so hopefully he’s got it all figured out,” said Sharp, tongue-in-cheek. “Who knows if that’s a once-in-a-lifetime type of game of if they’ve figured something out? It’s not like Corey can start cheating glove side, because those guys are such good shooters they’d pick him apart.

“I’ve seen goals go in all different ways and I’ve seen him make saves

all different ways. I like Corey in there.”

Crawford, to his credit, knows it was no coincidence. There is such a thing as luck in the playoffs, but patterns as pronounced as the Bruins’ shooting chart are no accident.

“Well, 99 per cent of the shots are going glove side. I don’t know what you would say,” said the 28-year-old from Montreal, drafted 10 years ago by Chicago but a backup to Antti Niemi during their 2010 Cup run.

“I can’t start thinking about that. That’s when you start getting in trouble when you start thinking everything is going to go glove. I’m just going to play the way I’ve been playing and stick with that.

“Last series they were talking about my blocker. Both sides are bad, I guess.”

“We're trying to put pucks on net, and they're going in on that side,” said the Bruins’ Tyler Seguin. “So, maybe the wise thing to do next game is go blocker.

“You guys were all thinking it, so ...”

All right, so the basic premise — that a goaltender who’s two victories away from winning a Stanley Cup has a huge hole in his game, but it took until the Cup final for a team to target it — is a little thin.

So is the notion that a team could have gotten this far without a lot of terrific stuff from the ’keeper.

Crawford, when he’s on, is a cookie-cutter big goaltender who plays the angles, smothers a lot of shots right on the Hawks’ Indian head logo, and covers the bottom of the net with his long legs.

And yet, there are those who will tell you Crawford’s technique with the glove hand is unconventional, that he holds it too high to begin with, that he’s vulnerable both high and just over the pad when in the butterfly position. When he makes a clean catch, it’s a Hollywood production, Patrick Roy-style, maybe because it happens so rarely.

Should the Hawks be worried?

Someone asked Quenneville, knowing full well what the answer would be, whether there was a point at which he would consider going to the bullpen for Ray Emery, considering he had a better regular-season record than Crawford, the same goals-against average and got more love than Crawford from the Vezina Trophy voters (and played in the 2007 Cup final for Ottawa).

“No, not all,” said Quenneville, who’s much too smart to set a goalie controversy in motion this late in the game. “We’re very comfortable with Corey. Corey has been rock solid all year for us. And he’s the biggest reason we’re here today.”

Back in Boston, the Bruins’ backstop was defending himself on the basis of the six goals he gave up, the same night Crawford surrendered five.

“Well, every goal is stoppable but I don’t think there were any weak ones,” said Tuukka Rask, who actually did lose the game. Crawford, it turns out, was the winner.

“They were just mistakes (that) piled up, and I wasn’t able to bail our guys out,” said Rask, whose all-world playoff numbers took a hit. “Sometimes you do and sometimes you don’t.”

For the record, no one asked Claude Julien whether he planned to to stick with Rask, or go to Anton Khudobin for Game 5 here Saturday (5 p.m., Pacific time, CBC, NBC).

The trick to staying sane for a goalkeeper, Crawford said, is selective amnesia.

“Have a short memory. There were obviously some goals I wasn’t too happy with. I’m never happy with any goals, but a couple more than the others,” he said. “I don’t know if there’s an adjustment to make. Just go out there, read and react.”

And catch the puck, if at all possible. That, too.

ccole@vancouversun.com

Twitter.com/rcamcole

 
 
 
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Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford surrenders a goal glove-side in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday at TD Garden in Boston.
 

Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford surrenders a goal glove-side in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday at TD Garden in Boston.

Photograph by: Brian Babineau, NHLI via Getty Images

 
Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford surrenders a goal glove-side in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday at TD Garden in Boston.
Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook (7) celebrates his game-winning goal against the Boston Bruins with defenseman Duncan Keith (2).
Linesman Pierre Racicot (65) tries to separate Chicago Blackhawks defenceman Duncan Keith (2) and Boston Bruins centre Chris Kelly (23).)
Boston Bruins left wing Brad Marchand (63) moves the puck in front of Chicago Blackhawks centre Marcus Kruger (16).
Bryan Bickell #29 and Jonathan Toews #19 of the Chicago Blackhawks celebrate after Brent Seabrook #7 (not pictured) scores the game-winning goal against Tuukka Rask #40 of the Boston Bruins in overtime in Game Four of the 2013 NHL
Boston Bruins left wing Milan Lucic (17) celebrates his goal against the Chicago Blackhawks with Bruins defenceman Zdeno Chara (33).
Chicago Blackhawks right wing Marian Hossa (81), of Slovakia, checks Boston Bruins centre David Krejci (46), of the Czech Republic.
Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane (88) scores past Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask (40).
Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien watches play with centre Tyler Seguin (19) during the second period in Game 4.
Chicago Blackhawks defenceman Johnny Oduya (27), of Sweden, pokes the puck in front of Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford (50) and Boston Bruins centre Chris Kelly (23).
Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask (40) turns aside a shot against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville instructs his team during the second period in Game 4.
Chicago Blackhawks centre Jonathan Toews (19) celebrates his goal against Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask (40) as defenceman Zdeno Chara (33) looks.
Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane, second from right, celebrates his goal against the Boston Bruins with teammates.
Boston Bruins defenceman Torey Krug (47) and Chicago Blackhawks defenceman Michal Rozsival (32) mix it up.
Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane (88) celebrates his goal against the Boston Bruins.
Boston Bruins left wing Milan Lucic (17) scores a goal against Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford (50) as defenceman Johnny Oduya (27) and defenceman Niklas Hjalmarsson (4) look on.
Steve Parankaewich of Regina, left, and Luciano Rinaldi of Moose Jaw pose outside TD Garden before Game 4 of the NHL Stanley Cup Final between the Boston Bruins and the Chicago Blackhawks in Boston, Wednesday, June 19, 2013.
Boston Bruins left wing Milan Lucic (17) screens Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford (50).
Chicago Blackhawks centre Jonathan Toews (19) celebrates his goal against Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask (40) as left wing Bryan Bickell (29) joins the celebration.
Boston Bruins fans watch warm-ups before Game 4 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final between the Bruins and the Chicago Blackhawks.
Chicago Blackhawks centre Jonathan Toews (19) celebrates his goal with Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane (88).
Chicago Blackhawks centre Jonathan Toews (19) scores a goal past Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask (40).
The puck, shot by Chicago Blackhawks centre Jonathan Toews (19), gets past Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask (40).
Boston Bruins centre Patrice Bergeron (37) celebrates his goal against Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford (50) as teammates Brad Marchand (63) and Tyler Seguin (19) join in.
Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford (50) blocks a shot by Boston Bruins left wing Milan Lucic (17).
Chicago Blackhawks defenceman Johnny Oduya (27), of Sweden, and Boston Bruins left wing Milan Lucic (17) fight for the loose puck.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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