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How Valuable Is Corey Crawford?

Corey Crawford of the Chicago Blackhawks is the top goalie on the top team in the NHL.  Some have argued that he is a candidate for the Canadian Olympic Team as a result of this situation.  I have argued that Crawford is not a great goalie.  He is a modern Chris Osgood or a Marc-Andre Fleury.  He is an adequate starting goalie on a very good team and this causes people to overrate him.

Crawford has been out with a lower body injury on December 8th.  Since he has been out, rookie Antti Raanta has taken over in the Chicago goal.  Raanta has five wins and one loss since the injury occurred.  He has posted a .921 saves percentage and a 2.01 GAA in that time.  These are very good numbers.  They are better than the numbers Crawford has been posting - .907 saves percentage and 2.47 GAA.  Raanta has been better than Crawford.  This isn't a good argument for Crawford being an indispensible part of the Hawks lineup.

Raanta is not your average NHL rookie goalie.  He has put up some strong numbers in Finland before coming to the NHL.  An argument can be made that he was the best goalie not in the NHL last summer.  He may be a better goalie than Crawford.  It is far too early to make that conclusion with confidence.  We need to see Raanta play regularly in the NHL for a much larger sample of games to make any firm conclusions about him.  It is not uncommon for a goalie to have a hot streak - and this may be one of them.  The NHL scouts have yet to figure out his game.  They may find weaknesses in it that he cannot overcome. 

The argument that Corey Crawford is a top goalie is a weak one.  He may get lots of wins, but wins are a team stat.  All of his stats are influenced by the team he plays with.  In order to see how much Chicago's defence can help a goalie's numbers, we need only look at last year's backup goalie Ray Emery.  In Chicago he posted a .922 saves percentage and a 1.94 GAA.  In Philadelphia this season his numbers are .891 and 3.02.  That difference is probably exaggerated in Emery's case, but it shows that playing behind the Chicago defence makes a goalie look better than he is.  It has made Corey Crawford look better than he is.  Now that Crawford is replaced, at least temporarily, we are seeing that other goalies can do his job.  Antti Raanta seems like just as good a goalie, if not better.  Corey Crawford is not an irreplaceable part of the Blackhawks.

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Comments

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couldn’t agree more. another luongo, or the like.

Posted by tbuhg on 12/20/13 at 02:31 AM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

Luongo was probably the best goalie in the NHL in the middle part of the first decade of this millennium.  But that is another story…

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 12/20/13 at 02:37 AM ET

Guilherme's avatar

I thought Marc-Andre Fleury was the “modern Marc-Andre Fleury”, being the same guy and all…

Posted by Guilherme from Brazsil on 12/20/13 at 09:09 AM ET

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We have seen our Griffins make mincemeat out of Raanta just a few weeks ago while he was playing with the Ice Hogs. I think you are right in that the Hawks defense can make any goalie look better.

Posted by griffinsfan on 12/20/13 at 09:40 AM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

Guilherme

Your smart assed comment misses the point.  In 2013, some are suggesting Crawford for the Canadian Olympic Team.  In 2010, Fleury actually make the Canadian Olympic Team.  Crawford appears to be thought of the way Fleury was in 2010.  Today, I think few people suggest Fleury should make the Canadian Olympic Team.  Hence he is a modern version of Fleury a few years ago.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 12/20/13 at 12:21 PM ET

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luongo’s talents have always been overblown, in my estimation, he was still considered the best Canadian goalie when they won gold in spite of his play. it’s easy to look like a star on a horrible team, but another thing to do it on an all star team. Point being, Crawford to me, and I haven’t watched him at all, is cut from the same cloth of not being overly athletic, but more of a shot absorber/blocker.. Which, being a goalie myself, I can never root for that type of goaltending. it may be effective, but it seems to be more based on rigging the equipment properly and some positioning to cover the averages.

Posted by tbuhg on 12/21/13 at 12:28 PM ET

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imageThe Puck Stops Here was founded during the 2004/05 lockout as a place to rant about hockey. The original site contains over 1000 posts, some of which were also published on FoxSports.com.

Who am I? A diehard hockey fan.

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