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Monday, March 19, 2012
Crawford just latest goalie of the moment

By Jesse Rogers

CHICAGO -- With Chicago Blackhawks goaltending you can never be too sure. That’s why when Ray Emery won third star of the week honors in the NHL at the beginning of March it still didn’t signify anything more than he was the goaltender for the moment.

Now the net is back to Corey Crawford. He did one better than Emery by taking home second star honors for last week, going 3-0 with a 1.09 goals-against average. Like Emery in his week, Crawford’s confidence boost came in relief when he shut down St. Louis for the final two periods while the Hawks fought back from a 3-1 deficit.

His wins in Dallas and against Washington were just as impressive but consider this: he faced a total of 58 shots in 165 minutes of hockey in those three wins. That is a perfect total, though he might say going the first 16 minutes in Sunday’s win over Washington is too long not to face a shot.

But for any Hawks’ fan, if the puck is stuck along the perimeter or in the opponent’s zone as much as it was Sunday, they’ll take a rusty goaltender. And even if that rust comes back to haunt Crawford once in a while, the fact that the Hawks are getting leads means they can withstand an awkward goal here and there. That wasn’t the case previously when pressure mounted on Crawford while the defense figured out its game.

Just as it was foolish to declare Emery the playoff starter in early March, we still can’t do the same with Crawford. He’s lost the net one too many times this season to be sure of anything before the calendar turns to April. After all, star of the week for the one upcoming is up in the air. As quick as Crawford won his honors -- and the net -- Emery could always take it back.