Blackhawks 2013 Season Preview: Goaltending

Rob Grabowski-US PRESSWIRE

So with the season set to open January 19th in LA, for the banner raising ceremony of the Kings, it’s time we take a look at the how the Hawks are going to look this year. I will be taking a look at how the Hawks will look in between the pipes (this year and possible moves for the future).

There are two glaring questions in the Hawks line-up this year, who will emerge as the teams 2nd line center (but if the Tracy Meyers tweet is right it could be Bolland) and can Corey Crawford get over his sophomore slump and return to some of his brighter moments of 2011.

Let’s be honest, Corey Crawford has left something to be desired in the goaltending position for most Hawks fans, and it’s hard to blame them when they had to watch their Stanley Cup winning tender leave for the Sha-arks. But we have had to move on and like most sports fans we aren’t satisfied with just one championship with this team, we want and expect more from this group.

Crawford is entering his third season but he isn’t exactly a kid, he turned 28 on New Years Eve, and in my opinion, needs a great year to stick around. Now, he hasn’t been terrible, looking at his numbers the past two years, he has played in 57 games in each of the past two seasons and hasn’t had a scoring percentage below .900, his GAA was 2.72 in 2012 and 2.30 in 2011. The big complaint from Crawford last year is that he had 0 shutouts. No shutouts? Sounds weird either way, because honestly he should have had one almost by chance, with the team in front of him.

Crawford seemed to give up a lot of goals early in periods last season, and that is going to cost a lot more this year with every game being a premium in the shortened season.

The Hawks have very few weak spots and with the golden years of Hossa, Sharp, Keith and Seabrook shrinking, if the Hawks want to win another Cup with these guys they need to do it soon. The Hawks have a lot of the pieces in place to make a serious run at the Cup again, and with the shortened season that might actually be a benefit for some of the Hawks like Hossa.

But Crawford needs to come out strong and can’t take any time getting his game up to snuff, I didn’t hear too much about what Corey did during the lockout but I hope he spent it working out and be constructive with his time. Maybe a little work on his speed and some rebound control.

Look, he is obviously going to get every opportunity this year because Emery’s game isn’t going to earn many starts. And the young guys in the Hawks system are still at least 2 years away from sniffing any meaningful NHL time. So Crawford is going to be our guy this year, the Hawks will either ride him to victory and Crawford will cement his spot as the number one for at least a few more years. Or if he struggles and the Hawks have another early playoff exit, I don’t think it will just be Q who has to worry about keeping their job.

Part 2 Tomorrow: What happens if the Hawks and Crawford struggle?

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