The message to Corey and to everyone else today is that we’ve decided we have some young goaltenders here in Chicago we believe in. –Stan Bowman

The indignities never cease.

We all sort of knew it was coming, but it doesn’t make it hurt any less. The Hawks won’t be re-signing Corey Crawford. There are few superlatives you can apply to Corey Crawford that could adequately describe what he meant to this franchise. The most playoff wins for a Hawks goalie ever (52), two Cups, a .918 SV% over 14 years in a league that didn’t employ dog catchers and train hoppers on the top lines, and countless instances of pulling the Hawks’s collective ass out of a sling when they didn’t deserve anything more than swirlee.

He’s always been our Dangerfield. From bringing in Marty Turco for REASONS; to walking smegma trap Pierre McGuire costing him a Conn Smythe with that WEAK GLOVE horseshit that fueled a fire of giardiniera fartin’, cousin fuckin’ angst among the unwashed; to the constant bus tossings the organ-I-zation couldn’t wet themselves quickly enough to dole out in an effort to offshore blame, Corey Crawford never really got the respect he deserved.

We’ve said it before, we’ll say it again: His number belongs in the rafters. I’ll go so far as to say he should go down as the greatest goaltender in Hawks history. Better than Tony O. Better than Glenn Hall. Better than Belfour.

Corey Crawford (and a pandemic, obviously) took this year’s version of the Chicago Blackhawks—a team that iced one of the worst defenses in recent memory—to the playoffs. We surely don’t need to remind you of the Cam Ward/Collin Delia trainwreck of last year, wherein goaltenders not named Corey Crawford averaged a 3.64 GAA and .900 SV%. Throughout his career, Crow made excellent teams into world beaters and pisspoor teams into something feigning passable.

Save his FUCKIN’ RIGHT moment, Crow did it all with quiet, big-dick confidence. No moment ever seemed too big or overwhelming—not even the rough start he had to the Nashville series in ‘15, which Crow came back to save in the end. His memory was short (thanks in no small part to the Hawks’s complete dereliction of player safety, we’re sure), his butterfly pristine, and his presence the one thing you could nearly always count on.

Now we get to worry about the Hawks exploring a trade for Marc-Andre Fleury and his $7 million cap hit, because that has Stan Bowman written all fucking over it. And the free agent market isn’t particularly appetizing, unless you’re counting on a big bounce back from Holtby or are willing to rely on, like, Cam the Magic Talbot. We’d love it if Malcolm Subban would slot in, but, ya know. Collin Delia and Kevin Lankinen behind this defense? The Hawks may not win 15 games next year if that’s what they go with.

You can talk about Crow’s age and recent health as reasons not to re-sign him, along with the Hawks’s tenuous cap positioning. We get that, but we don’t buy it. And it’s possible, perhaps even likely, that Crawford told everyone in the front office to cram whatever offer they had up their ass and spin. That’s the version I’m going to believe, regardless of the fact that that doesn’t seem like Crawford’s style. But it’s hard to look past the difference between the Hawks with Crawford and without him. It’s not like Crow underperformed last year, after all.

It’s tough to lose the best goaltender in team history, someone who still has cornerstone performances in him. It’s a heartbreaker that it’s Crawford, someone who did so much right, so little wrong, and still got unduly treated like he’s not the greatest goaltender the organization’s ever seen.

Of every game I’ve seen and experience I’ve had related to Crow, the one I’ll remember most was meeting him at a signing in a fucking mattress store. What struck me most was how kind, humble, and grateful he was to be in the position he was in. It was a fleeting moment, but I’ll never forget how there wasn’t the slightest hint of arrogance in him. That’s truly a marvel for an athlete of his pedigree.

So long, Crow. A cornerstone on two Cup winners, Crow was also the biggest reason the Hawks even feigned competitiveness over the last three years (Lehner was good too, but fuck him). Without him, the house of cards looks to fall apart.

But as they say, nothing gold can stay.

– In other news of less import, the Hawks traded Olli Maatta for some guy on the Kings. A pure salary dump move, kudos to Bowman for getting anything at all back for Maatta. While it’s a foregone conclusion that Brad Morrison won’t be Dominik Kubalik, he can be a depth centerman on Rockford or something. Maybe. It doesn’t matter. What does matter is that a spot has opened up for Ian “Good Fucking Luck, Kid” Mitchell, provided Coach Nathan For You keeps the press box buffet stocked.

– The draft was whatever. You sort of got the feeling that Crow wasn’t coming back with the Hawks selecting Drew Commesso in the second round. Their first rounder, LW Lukas Reichel, doesn’t move many needles at first glance. But in a tradition started by Fels, we’re not going to pretend we watch anything related to juniors. He’s from Europe, which has always boded well for the Hawks. Outside that, we don’t expect anyone from this draft class to make any difference one way or another under the current Kane and Toews contract terms.

That’s all for now.


Box Score

Natural Stat Trick

Or 3 to 1, whatever. What a perfect microcosm of what you could only loosely call any of the Hawks’s success this year. The team gets its doors blown entirely off the hinges, only to win on the back of their rafter-worthy best goaltender in team history. We are all vile, disgusting creatures who do not deserve the radiance that is Corey Crawford. And yet, he giveth for at least one more game.

– Corey Crawford is the only reason this team avoids two consecutive first-round sweeps. The Hawks were completely overwhelmed from the get-go and if not for Crawford may have given up 10. He’s the best this franchise has ever seen, and we have the privilege to see it in real time. Getting to watch him could be your only reason for wanting this iteration of the Hawks to keep winning. You’d be completely justified.

He stopped 48 of 49 tonight. The Knights had the puck for more than 70% of the game. Their team xGF% was 71+. And Crawford held them to a single goal. According to NaturalStatTrick, Crawford stopped all nine high-danger shots, although it felt like each and every one was of the high-danger variety. The Hawks had no business winning this game, and yet, Corey Crawford willed them to it.

The Hawks might not be so lucky if Crawford chooses not to stay, or worse, they don’t offer him a contract. Without him, the Hawks will be lucky to win 15 games total next year. He deserves his number in the rafters and anyone who disagrees can kiss my ass and call it a love story.

Adam Boqvist is getting swallowed whole, and it fucking sucks to watch. Granted, throwing him in the deep end against Vegas was never going to flesh out. But it’s clear he’s overwhelmed and in his own head. The concern isn’t so much how he does in this series but whether this truly awful experience sours the team on him. I am extremely excited for Bowman to trade him for Kris Russell and point to tonight as justification.

– Top Cat finally bagged one. Even if it’s of the empty-net variety, we’ll take it. He’s been much more noticeable and aggressive over the last two games, and managed to be a rare instance of sweeping the puck out of a danger zone and into the corner late in the third. DeBrincat will always make his money scoring goals, but he’s got a sneaky ability to cause more turnovers than you’d expect. Just before his empty netter, he popped a puck loose at neutral ice and created a partial breakaway for himself.

– After the first period, Alex Nylander had more time on ice than Toews, Saad, Kubalik, and Dach. It wasn’t much more, but it was still more. He proceeded to post a goddamn motherfucking 6.25 CF% in four fucking minutes and 25 fucking seconds. One shot for versus 15 fucking shots against. That’s fucking profound. The very fact that this happened during an elimination game WITH THE LAST CHANGE should be enough to get Jeremy Colliton fired. It doesn’t matter how it happened, or why it happened, or that it may have happened because of an extra-long shift (guess how those extra-long shifts happen when he’s on the ice). That it happened at all is the problem.

The act of dressing Alex Nylander at all is lineup management malfeasance. Each and every time he is on the ice, the Hawks turn it over and the Knights end up with extended pressure. Every single time. He may have the individual tools to impress in non-game situations. But he is certainly not an NHL-caliber forward on this Blackhawks team, and likely isn’t one period the end.

Dress Sikura. Dress Hagel. Fuck, dress SAM’S GUY Philipp Kurashev. It may seem like pointless griping, since Nylander didn’t end up affecting much nor did he play much after the first, but it’s not. It’s the purest and most obvious example of Jeremy Colliton not knowing how to manage a lineup whatsoever. And if the next argument is “Well Bowman must be having a say in it,” that could be even worse.

There is nothing we learned tonight other than what we already knew. Corey Crawford is the most important player on this team by a country mile and the best goaltender in franchise history. We get to hold onto that and see him at least one more time. That’s enough for me.


Booze du Jour: Coffee

Unspoken Line of the Night: I don’t think anyone Eddie and Pat knew died, which is good.


Box Score

Natural Stat Trick

– Just put his fucking number in the goddamn rafters already I don’t fucking care. As predicted, the series went through Crow. He stopped 43 of 45, including eight fucking power play shots against the best power play in recent history. He locked everything down from the second period on despite huge pressure, and if not for a plush bounce off the end boards in the second period, he may have only given up one. Don’t forget that Crawford did this coming off a COVID-19 diagnosis.

We do not deserve Corey Crawford. No one does.

– The penalty kill was complete fucking nails tonight. We all thought it was fucked following DeBrincat’s terrible boarding major, but they managed to hold on. For all the shit we’ve given Olli Maatta his entire tenure, he was a big part of that unit (not as big as Keith, Murphy, Kampf, or Carpenter, but still), so good on him. We successfully Motherfucked the Oilers PP tonight, which went 0 for fucking 5.

– Though the Toews line got horsed for most of the night in possession, they scored two of the Hawks’s three goals. Saad’s wraparound off a rebound is exactly the kind of power move we all have gross dreams about. Kubalik’s GWG is worth the $6 million they’ll have to pay him. And both of them came off an initial Toews touch. As this line goes . . .

Duncan Keith can still fuck. He logged more time than anyone on the pivotal PK and managed to not only get his shots through on net all night but also set up yet another Matthew Highmore goal. To be a fly on the wall when he powerbombs Coach Nathan For You through a table in the middle of his post-playoff-series-win speech.

– If it felt like the Hawks stole one tonight it’s because they did. Only three of them were above water in possession (Dach, Kane, and Maatta[!!!]), even when you adjust for score. The Hawks scored all three goals off bad Edmonton turnovers. They don’t have to be art.

That’s fucking all. Corey Crawford is a legend and they should retire his number. The end.

Avalanche or Knights next. We’ll worry about it in a couple days. For now, enjoy your 2020 Chicago Blackhawks playoff run.

Just like they fucking said.

Booze du Jour: Maker’s and High Life

Line of the Night: “You gotta be hard and sure.” –Eddie O.