CHICAGO – Before a critical weekend of hockey, the Blackhawks’ best player wasn’t about to slight any of the men who’ve patrolled the team’s net in the 2018-2019 season.
“I think our goaltending has been great all year, to be honest with you,” said Patrick Kane on Thursday. “I don’t know if we’ve given them much help with the way we’ve played in front of them.”
The forward was asked specifically about Corey Crawford’s play of late and tried to be democratic with his answer. But at the end of his answer, he was quick to point out just how much the starter has helped the team’s pursuit of a playoff berth.
“He’s been unbelievable,” said Kane, and he’s spot on with that answer.
Over the past month, Crawford has played well since his return from a concussion suffered in December, keeping the team with some hope of a Western Conference Wild Card spot.
On Sunday night, he helped to keep them alive against the team holding that last playoff berth, the Colorado Avalanche. He allowed just a goal in regulation and overtime in a 2-1 Blackhawks win that got them within five points of that postseason spot.
“That extra point against that team was important, obviously. They’re ahead of us. We needed that extra point,” said Crawford, who made 19 saves in the win on Sunday.
It’s indicative of his month of March in which his goals against average has been 2.21 over the course of ten games. In five of those contests, including Sunday, Crawford has had five games in which he’s allowed one goal or less.
His 92.3 save percentage in March is easily his best of the season as Crawford’s goals against average for the season has dropped under three to 2.97.
“He’s always been one of our best, if not our best player. He gives everybody confidence and our goaltending has been good all year,” said defenseman Duncan Keith of Crawford. “When Corey’s in net we know we’re going to have a chance to win. He’s gonna make those big saves – he made them last night (Saturday) and he made them again tonight (Sunday).
“There’s not too many easy ones that ever go in.”
Not that the road for Crawford or the Blackhawks is going to be easy in the final seven games. It starts Tuesday as the team visits Arizona to face a Coyotes team above them but below the Avalanche in the race for the Wild Card spot.
The Sharks and Kings await this week on the final west swing of the year before the final four games play out next week.
“It’s gonna be a battle, but we’re gonna take it one game at a time,” said Crawford.
It’s safe to say the Blackhawks feel good about doing so with No. 50 in the net and thriving again.