It’s time for a season review, and as we have a lot of time to kill between now and the draft, we might as well comb the whole roster. Normally, we would do this one player at a time and we will, but it’s easier to knock out the goalies together. So let’s get to it, shall we?
Regular Season Stats – 32-16-10, 2.26 GAA, .917 SV%
Playoffs – 11-8, 2.53 GAA, .912 SV%
What We Liked: Basically, everything that happened in 2014. Once Crow came back from his groin injury on January 2nd, he was exemplary. From that date until the end of the regular season, Crow’s numbers were a 2.06 GAA and a .920 SV% in 32 games. And while Toews and Kane got more of the spotlight for OT or game-winning goals, the Hawks do not get out of either the first or second round without Crow. His performances in wins in Games 3, 5, and 6 against St. Louis and Games 5 and 6 against Minnesota were just about as good as anything he put up in 2013 if not better. And at least there wasn’t as much talk about his fucking glove-hand this time around. Anyone who truly complains about Crawford has basically marked themselves out as a moron.
What We Didn’t Like: The Kings series looks bad, but as they are currently also tearing apart Henrik Lundqvist it seems to look better with each passing day. Both goalies in that series were just under too much pressure at times to hold up. The early-season bugaboos weren’t cute, but no one cares about what happens in October and November around here anyway. His angles with a player streaking down one of his wings can still get wonky, of course, and the Kings exploited this a couple times. He still lets in the one bad goal when he’s not absolutely at the top of his game, and those hurt. But this all feels a bit like nit-picking. He’s a bouncing puck off Leddy from playing for his second straight Cup, which might have shut up his critics for a good seven minutes.
What Is It, You Would Say, You Do Here?: Well, the problem for us on the outside is that next year is when Crawford starts to make a lot of money. His extension kicks in at $6 million per, which means the glare from the unwashed is going to be that much brighter. It’s going to lead to a lot of “EARN YOUR MONEY, CRAWSTINK!” even though there are something like 28 other starting goalies who would trade their record over the past two years with him. While Crow will be 30 next year, the arc for goalies is a little different than skaters and they can hold onto their peak into their mid-30’s (Lundqvist is 32 for example and just about at his best).
Hawks fans shouldn’t expect a Vezina run or anything like that, and there will probably be early-season yips again. They should also expect more and more solid play as the season goes on and nails performances in the playoffs, because Crow has given that in three of his four seasons here. Of all the questions heading into next season, Crow should be way down at the bottom.
Regular Season: 13-5-4, 2.71 GAA, .897 SV%
What We Liked: It’s almost the opposite of Crawford. When Crow got hurt, and after Khabibulin decided he was just going to cash his check at the liquor store and go away forever, Raanta stood pretty tall. Raanta had to make 15 starts in the calendar year of 2013, and in only two of them did he surrender more than two goals (the complete shit-show in Toronto, and the Seabrook-fueled meltdown in St. Louis). He looked pretty athletic and a competitor, rarely giving up on anything.
What We Didn’t Like: 2014, where Raanta was simply terrible. After the turn of the calendar, Raanta got 9 starts and he gave up two or less in only two of them. He was to blame for losses in Colorado and Philly and Ottawa, and those points did end up mattering just a bit. Teams exposed his lack of size with traffic in front that he simply wasn’t strong enough to battle through, as well as his over-aggressive tendencies to make up for that lack of size. It wasn’t pretty.
What Is It, You Would Say, You Do Here?: Interesting question. Raanta is a restricted free-agent, and I suppose in an ideal world he would be re-signed cheaply and then plugged back into Rockford even on a one-way deal. The plan this year was clearly for him to get way more time in the AHL, and both he and the Hogs could have used it. That may not be an option now, as he’s basically hitting the market as a NHL backup. Doesn’t mean he should cost you more than a million or a million and a half, but the Hawks have to ask themselves if a goalie at this size can be an effective backup. Because they simply can’t have Crawford playing more than 60-65 games. He’ll be re-signed I would imagine, the Hawks chased him too hard to give up this quickly. But I also wouldn’t be shocked if they go and get a veteran backup (though that market isn’t exactly kind either) and institute this year’s plan next year after fucking up this one with the belief that Khabibulin would care or stay healthy or care enough to pretend to stay healthy.