In a season full of frustration and fatigue, the Blackhawks reached a new low Sunday with the loss of goalie Corey Crawford.
He’s one of the most beloved and accomplished players in the locker room, and seeing him go down with a concussion early in the 7-3 loss to San Jose was difficult for some teammates to absorb.
“He’s probably the guy that’s worked the hardest and held us in the most over the season,” defenseman Connor Murphy said. “So that’s never a good sign.
“Crow’s such a big part of our team and to lose him, it’s not good. You just feel for him because (in) a game like that, we leave our goalies hung out to dry. And for him to take guys crashing on him is not even fair, either.”
Both of the Sharks’ goals on Crawford came in fairly disadvantageous situations for him, and he stopped their other six shots before his exit near the end of the first period.
The defense got drastically worse in the second period, when the Hawks went from a 3-2 lead to a 5-3 deficit. San Jose fired away and outshot them 43-20.
That’s bad even for the Hawks, who give up an average of 34.3 shots on goal per game — fourth-worst in the NHL. Crawford, a two-time champion and all-star, at least gave them a chance to survive despite those numbers.
“He’s been everything that we could ask from him,” Duncan Keith said. “We definitely don’t give our goalies much support out there. I think they’ve made saves when we’ve needed them to. It’s hard when we give up a lot of Grade A scoring chances. Everybody can shoot it now.”
Here’s the play, via the broadcast:
The season is already in tatters as the Hawks approach the halfway point — only the Kings have fewer points than their 26 — and new coach Jeremy Colliton is averse to giving the team any excuses.
When pressed on the impact of Crawford’s injury, he took a businesslike tack. As soon as he starts lamenting everything that’s gone wrong this year, it opens the door for players to do the same.
“I’d love for us to get to the mentality as a group that it doesn’t matter what happens,” he said. “We just keep playing. Teams go through stuff as the year goes on, and if you want to get anywhere as a team, you’re gonna have to overcome things. I would love our group to get to the point where it just doesn’t matter.”