CHICAGO -- Just imagine the furor had Corey Crawford lost the game.
In the wake of the Chicago Blackhawks’ dramatic 6-5 overtime win in Game 4 -- one in which the Boston Bruins continued to target Crawford’s glove side -- the goalie has been besieged by questions about what is now perceived as a potentially fatal flaw.
Never mind that Crawford still boasts a 1.86 goals-against average and .931 save percentage.
Never mind that he’s two games away from winning the Stanley Cup or that he allowed one fewer goal in Game 4 than his Bruins counterpart, Tuukka Rask.
Crawford’s glove-hand woes have gone the hockey equivalent of viral.
For his part, Crawford, 28, has remained calm and unruffled throughout the playoffs.
“Obviously, they’ve shot there a lot more than blocker side, but for me I can’t start thinking about that because then you’re going to get in trouble if you start to think that they’re going to shoot glove,” Crawford said during a long question-and-answer session with reporters Friday.
“As a goalie, you never want to be thinking out there; you want to read and react. They made some good shots. Just got to get over it and be prepared.”
If he is surprised by the sudden attention to his glove hand, Crawford did not betray it. In fact, he noted that in the Western Conference finals, people questioned his ability to deal with shots to his blocker side.
“Both sides are bad, I guess,” he said, joking.
Were he a younger player, Crawford said, perhaps the sudden attention on this aspect of his game would have been unsettling. Not now.
“I think it's something you have to learn from,” he said. “I think if that would've happened in junior [hockey], I think I would've been pretty deflated, and my confidence would've been pretty low. I think it's something you build over time and something you learn from.”
If the media seemed unduly concerned about the fissure in Crawford’s armor, his teammates and the Chicago coaching staff seem unperturbed.
“There’s probably a lot of talk about every little play that happens out there. I think goaltenders have always received the brunt of criticism after a loss and whatnot,” defenseman Duncan Keith said.
“It’s a position they sign up for. They know they’re going to get the heat. But Corey’s been great for us all season long, and he’s always bounced back and had huge games after losses. We know that he’s going to be there for us.”
Coach Joel Quenneville likewise was unconcerned, but even if he feels otherwise, he wouldn't have shared that with the media anyway.
“He’s fine. I think that the scrutiny of goaltending at any stage of the season is at a different level of any other player, and I guess it's even more out there now that you're in the final,” Quenneville said.
“But Corey just seems to move forward, whatever the challenge is, the next shot, the next game. He's excited about the opportunity. We're excited about what he accomplished. He won a big game for us, and that's where we're at.”
Despite the line of questioning and the fact that Game 4 was his worst performance of the postseason, Crawford talked about the excitement of being here and being so close to winning the Cup for the first time.
“This is amazing. Furthest obviously I’ve ever been; so close to accomplishing a dream. You work hard your whole life to get here," he said. "It’s been a lot of fun. I’m sure the next game in this building will be the same thing, exciting crowd will be loud and it’s going to be a lot of fun."