LOS ANGELES — Like most Blackhawks, Corey Crawford isn’t exactly the most popular guy in L.A.
He was booed during introductions. Booed when announced as a starter. Booed when he gave up two quick goals. Then he was serenaded with the standard “Craw-ford” chants for the rest of his 10-minute stint in the most helpless position in all of sports — goalie during a three-on-three All-Star Game.
“They don’t like me here very much; you’ve got to expect that,” Crawford said. “One guy was still yelling at me while I was on the bench. I thought that was pretty funny. He was still giving it to me while I was off the ice. Tough crowd.”
Even Crawford’s teammates were poking some fun.
“He could have had a couple of those,” Jonathan Toews cracked afterward. “Nah, I’m just kidding. We might have hung him out to dry.”
The Hawks’ appearance in the All-Star tournament was fun but, in Toews’ words, “quick, short, disappointing.” The Central Division was run out of Staples Center by the Pacific Division 10-3, eliminating it from contention for the $1 million prize. The Metropolitan Division beat the Atlantic 10-6, then the Pacific 4-3 to win the tournament.
Crawford was under siege all game, giving up five goals on 11 shots. Toews scored a goal and even played a modicum of defense, tracking down Drew Doughty to break up a breakaway, but Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith came up empty in the 20-minute semifinal.
“It was kind of fun, I guess,” Crawford said with a laugh.
It was a whirlwind 48 hours for the Hawks. Toews, Kane and Keith were named to the NHL’s list of the 100 greatest players of all time on Friday night. Kane played in the celebrity game Saturday afternoon while Toews participated in a roundtable discussion with Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Bobby Orr and Sidney Crosby for NBC. Then all four participated in the skills competition Saturday night and the game itself Sunday afternoon, before jetting to San Jose to rejoin their teammates.
It was hardly the restful weekend that so many players get midseason. But Keith said it was still rejuvenating in its own way.
“I think more than anything, these types of breaks just kind of allow you to think about something else,” Keith said. “It breaks up the season. Just having that break and being able to think about something different, rather than the routine of practicing and playing and having a day off and then playing again — that break is good for the mind. I think that resets everything.”
And while Sunday was mostly goofy fun — despite Central coach Bruce Boudreau muttering in half-jest on his way out of the press room, “That was only a $91,000 loss” — the games actually count again starting Tuesday. With only 31 games left, and with the Wild four points up with three games in hand, the Hawks face a steep climb if they want to win the division title and home ice through at least the first two rounds of the playoffs.
The Hawks were standings-watching a little bit last week, and Kane said they had set a goal of entering the All-Star break in first place. Instead, they suffered dispiriting come-from-ahead losses at home to the Lightning and Jets.
The stretch run doesn’t really begin in earnest until after the upcoming six-game ice-show trip and the bye week that follows. But the fun and games are over.
“When it comes to crunch time, you want to really solidify your spot in the playoffs and get as high as you can and take advantage of every game,” Kane said. “Hopefully after this weekend, everyone’s a little bit refreshed, a little bit relaxed and [will] come back with an extra gear for the second half.”
Follow me on Twitter @MarkLazerus.