It’s that time. We gave you a week break. But now we must all pick through what was before we can figure out what should and shouldn’t be. It’s time for our world famous player reviews. And let’s start with the key log to everything, the player this season and the next few will hinge on, Corey Crawford.
27 starts, .929 SV%, 2.27 GAA, .935 SV% at evens, .902 SV% on the kill
God, don’t your eyes just bleed looking at those numbers? Doesn’t it make you wonder what might have been? You forgot about them, didn’t you? Because we spent so long looking at Forsberg’s or Glass’s or Berube’s .888s or whatever they were, it’s hard to understand was a .929 even means. Are those real numbers? Can you do that?
It’s important to remember how good Crow was. Crow’s SV% at 5-on-5 was fourth-best among all starters when he got hurt. His .859 high-danger save-percentage was the best in the league. His dSV%–basically the difference between what his expected save-percentage is based on the chances his team gives up and his actual save-percentage–was second-best behind Sergei Bobrovsky. His PK SV% was sixth-best. Crow is among the elite, and this debate is over on just how good he is. You’ll recall the Hawks’ PK was actually in the top five when Crow was around. It finished in the bottom half. He makes that much of a difference.
There’s no point in going any deeper on Crow, because everyone now knows the season collapsed without him. He’s far and away the most important Hawk, and probably the best. On the ice, there’s no question.
The problem is off the ice. Crow got dinged in Dallas right before Christmas, was awful in the last game before the Christmas break, and then simply became one with the ether from there on out. No one’s seen him, barely anyone has talked to him, and the Hawks’ shroud of secrecy isn’t helping matters. So that kind of affects…
Where We Go From Here: It’s impossible to say. In a vacuum, it’s real simple. Crow is back in the crease in September, he keeps the Hawks from being bad and any other move from there pushes them toward “good.” Crow by himself provides a high floor for the whole team.
But we can’t say that. While the Hawks and their media didn’t make anything of it, Crow apparently did get back on the ice somewhere around late winter and then wasn’t there anymore. In any other language, that’s a setback. And he hasn’t been on the ice since. The Hawks never used the words, “shut down,” which means Crow simply couldn’t get back on the ice with whatever it is he’s dealing with. He wasn’t kept off it. He just wasn’t out there.
So the Hawks can say everything will be fine and he’s on course to be ready for training camp, but there’s simply no evidence of that anywhere. When does he have to be back on the ice? July? August? What if he’s not? Is that part of the plan? If things were fine, I have to believe he’d be in contention to play for Canada at the World Championships if he so desired. It would at least give him game time. Knock off some rust. But that hasn’t been mentioned at all.
Thankfully for the Hawks, no one gives a shit around here about them in the summer. So Crow can not be on the ice all summer and they can say everything is fine and no one’s really going to look any deeper.
But until you actually see #50 out there, you’re never going to know. And the Hawks are going to have to find a way to shield themselves from this disaster again in case Crow isn’t going to be there. Which might not be possible, because there are only four or five guys who can do what Crow does. Do you make a play for a Bernier, or Lehtonen (barf), or Khudobin to get you out of a few weeks? Or one of Grubauer or Holtby if the Caps make a choice? Is that even possible? Bring Carter Hutton back? He wants to start full-time. How does that affect the cap room you have now?
The questions on this go deeper than the Hawks really want to admit.