True Glove Ways
A look a Corey Crawford and the over hype of high glove side goals.
NBC's coverage of Game 4 beat you over the head with the fact that the Boston Bruins are getting fat off of Corey Crawford's high glove side. Eight of the 12 Bruins goals so far have gone "1 hole." For those of us who have been following Crow, from his days as a Rockford IceHog to Wednesday's OT win, we know all about his weak glove. The too biggest weaknesses in Crawford's game is his glove and that he gets caught going down into the butterfly position too soon at times. Despite having the "worst glove ever", Crow still posted a 1.96 GAA in 30 regular seasons games and has been even better in the playoffs with a 1.86 GAA.
Inspired by all the flapping gums about high glove side goals, I went back and watched every goal Corey has given up through the Stanley Cup playoffs. Crawford's high glove side was exposed in the opening round versus the Minnesota Wild. He gave up 7 total goals, in the five game series, four of which were scored through the 1 hole. The high glove side was not an issue in the next two rounds. The Red Wings scored only 2 of their 14 goals high glove side and only 1 of the Kings 10 goals went 1 hole. Crawford has given up a total of 42 goals so far in the post season. A grand total of 15 of those went in via the high glove side, which is about 36% of all the goals scored. I don't have the hard numbers to prove it, but if I had to make an educated guess I would say that is right about the league average for NHL goaltenders. I have watched enough hockey in my lifetime to know that a lot goalies are weaker on their glove sides.
So why are the Bruins having so much success scoring on Crow's high glove side? There are a few reasons for this, the first being that Claude Julien is a great coach. Since the Hawks and Bruins did not face each other in the regular season, Julien had to break down a ton of video to get the scoop on his opponent. He obviously saw that the best way to way to beat Crawford is to attack the high glove side. It also helps that the Bruins have 8 right handed shots in their lineup, which is more than most teams. Obviously, it is a bit easier for right handed shooters to shoot glove side than a left handed shooter. Right handed shooters Patrice Bergeron, Johnny Boychuk and Rich Peverley have combined for half of the Bruins goals in the series. The Bruins have also had success shooting for the 1 hole because the have had space and time in prime scoring areas. The overwhelming majority of Boston's goals have come from between the circles and they have had many other chances from this zone that they could not cash in on.
So how can Corey Crawford and the Blackhawks defend against Boston's game plan to shoot high glove side? First and foremost, the Hawks defenders need to limit the scoring chances from between the dots. They need to do a better job at limiting the space and time and get into the shooting lanes. You can tell the goals are starting to creep into Crow's head. When you look at Crawford's positioning you can seen he his holding his glove up high and pretty much in line with his body. Kevin Weekes, former pro goalie and current NHL Network analyst, said Crow should have his glove hand more out in front of his body. This would give him a little bit more time to react and move the glove hand more than the position he has been holding it now. I don't think a complete technique change is in order nor is it possible at this point. Small adjustments, like Weekes' observation, could make a difference. I am not too worried about it, Corey has been mentally strong all season long and I am confident he will bounce back. He has made quite a few quality glove saves in this series, just ask Brad Marchand. When the majority of the shots are going high glove side it's only natural that the majority of goals will be scored in that area.