- Scott Powers, ESPN Staff Writer
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He doesn’t compare what he did last season or even last week to what he’s doing now. It’s only about the present and future to him.
“It’s always about what’s next, trying to get better as a goaltender,” Crawford said after practice at Johnny’s IceHouse West on Tuesday. “Every day I get on the ice, I try to get better. Last year is last year. I don’t want to compare anything. I’m just worried about my results, how I’m playing now and just feed off that.”
While Crawford isn’t comparing results, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville has done just that. And from what Quenneville has noticed, Crawford has been a more consistent goaltender over the last month since returning from a lower-body injury than he was over the season’s first 2 ½ months.
“Yeah, he’s been better,” Quenneville said. “I think every night he’s been solid. He’s got us some wins. He’s got us some points. It seems like he’s on top of his game, and he’s right where we want him to be.”
Crawford’s numbers indicate that as well. He had a .907 save percentage in 27 games before he suffered his injury against the Florida Panthers on Dec. 8. Since returning from injury Jan. 2, he’s stopped 212-of-229 shots for a .926 save percentage.
Crawford’s improved consistency can also be marked in his Quality Starts. A Quality Start is defined when a goaltender has a .917 save percentage or higher or has at least a .885 save percentage along with allowing two goals or less.
Prior to his injury, Crawford had 13 Quality Starts and a .542 Quality Start percentage this season. He’s had three Quality Starts in his last four games. The Blackhawks’ win against the Anaheim Ducks and Boston Bruins fell in that category.
Also important to the Blackhawks is Crawford hasn’t had an awful game in the last month. Another advanced statistic used is called a Really Bad Start, which is defined by a goaltender having a save percentage less than .850 in a game. He had five of those before his injury and none since coming back.
Crawford didn’t think there was any difference in his play from before his injury to now.
“I’m just playing the same,” Crawford said. “Try to prepare as well as I can and just go out and play hard. Try to stay focused and play as hard as I can.”
Crawford's success last season was telling in those statistics. He had 20 Quality Starts and five Really Bad Starts in 28 regular-season games. He was even more consistent in the playoffs and had 20 Quality Starts and one Really Bad Start in 24 games
The NHL recognized Crawford for his recent play by naming him the Third Star of the Week on Monday. He was 2-0-1 with a 2.22 goals-against average and .916 percentage in three games last week.
Crawford was pleased about the award, but he also thought it reflected on his teammates.
“Yeah, it’s always good,” Crawford said. “It’s always fun to receive an award like that. At the same time it’s a team effort. The guys in front of me have to be playing hard for me to achieve something like that.”