Chicago Blackhawks Corey Crawford’s Success Suppressed By Poor Penalty Kill

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NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 14: Viktor Arvidsson #38 of the Nashville Predators fires a shot towards Corey Crawford #50 of the Chicago Blackhawks at Bridgestone Arena on October 14, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Sanford Myers/Getty Images)

Being a goaltender in the NHL isn’t easy. Having the most important position in hockey, there’s a lot of criticism if the team is struggling to achieve success. For the Chicago Blackhawks, a lot of blame is being put on goaltender Corey Crawford for the team’s mediocre 3-3-1 record.

Everyone knows the Blackhawks for being an elite team who never hangs around the .500 mark for long in a season. In fact, it’s quite uncharacteristic for them to be playing as poor as they are. But due to their atrocious penalty kill, they can’t seem to get over the hump.

While allowing a record setting 14 goals on 26 power play chances, the Hawks are being held behind early in the season. One of the biggest targets on who to blame is Crawford, who’s been ridiculed for the team’s disappointing start to the season.

With new defensive pieces being added into the roster this year, the Hawks have found it to be difficult to find solid defensive pairings to assist on the penalty kill. Gustav Forsling and Michal Kempny have both found themselves torn apart by the team’s inability to escape a penalty. It was obvious that they needed help, and Crawford has done all he could to protect his crease.

Crawford is sporting a 3.02 goals against average as well as a .897 save percentage with a 1-3-1 record. For a two-time Stanley Cup champion, that can seem gut wrenching. But could it be that it’s not Crawford’s play that’s deteriorating his stats?

The answer is yes.

Chicago Blackhawk’s Corey Crawford’s Success Suppressed By Poor Penalty Kill

While going against an opponent while 5v5, Crawford has only allowed three goals on 88 shots, carrying a .928 save percentage. Unfortunately, Crawford has been on the ice when 22 of the 26 penalties were taken and has let in 12 of the 14 goals in that time.

Last season, the Hawks penalty kill was ranked 22nd in the league with an 80.3% rating, but also ranked 3rd in penalties taken while being in the box for a grand total of 611 minutes. In fact, the team’s penalty kill hasn’t been good since the shortened lockout season in 2012-13, where they allowed a mere 18 goals on 141 opposing power plays.

Taking a step backwards and looking at the big picture, it’s obvious that Crawford’s success is being muffled by his teammates inefficiency to kill off a penalty, let alone stay out of the sin bin. It’s clear that the penalty situation in Chicago is destroying Crawford’s stats.

With the season still being young, there’s a lot of room, and time, for improvement. The fact of the matter is this: the problem isn’t in the goaltending or scoring, as both aspects are playing sufficient enough to gather points. The problem lies on the team’s penalty kill unit that has a chance to collect themselves and improve without having to make any major roster adjustments.

If the Hawks are able to fix their biggest ailment, there’s no doubt that they’ll be climbing up the standings. After all, they owe it to their goaltender who is hiding in the shadows.

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