Blackhawks: In a word, 'brutal' | Bleader

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Blackhawks: In a word, 'brutal'

Posted By on 04.18.12 at 05:05 PM

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Corey Crawford: Brutal.
Corey Crawford called it "brutal," and he couldn't have been more accurate.

Unfortunately, he was referring to the game-winning goal he allowed Tuesday night, not the savage hit on Marian Hossa.

Crawford has to thank Phoenix's Raffi Torres for taking the brunt of the punishment following the Coyotes' 3-2 overtime win over the Blackhawks in the third game of their NHL Stanley Cup playoff series. Torres flattened Hossa with a blindside shoulder to the head, flying off his skates to deliver the blow, but for most of the game—even after Hossa was carted off on a stretcher—it only served to steel the Hawks' sense of purpose.

Even Crawford got into it, exchanging words with his goalie counterpart, Mike Smith, as they skated off the ice at the end of the second period.

Yet that only made it worse when Crawford allowed a very soft goal in overtime on an extreme-angle shot by Mikkel Boedker that pretty much traced the goal line across the ice before it deflected off Crawford and into the net before he could get his stick down.

I can't agree with TV color man Eddie Olczyk that Crawford had outplayed the more ballyhooed Smith going into the third game with the series tied at one apiece. Crawford held his own compared with Smith, but any time a goalie makes 43 saves in an overtime victory—as Smith did in the first game in Phoenix—that qualifies as what Hawks coach Joel Quenneville calls a goalie win. Crawford held his own and gave the Hawks a chance to win the second game in overtime.

Yet, by extension, that also makes that soft goal in the third game a goalie loss.

"It's a tough loss," Crawford admitted afterward. "I felt like we dominated overtime. I can't let those ones go in. He shot it and it just went under me. Brutal goal."

Here's hoping that brutal hit steels Crawford's sense of purpose for the rest of the series. He doesn't need to outplay Smith; he just needs to give his team an ample chance to win.

Hossa was released at being checked out at Northwestern Hospital Tuesday, but has already been ruled out for Thursday's fourth game. Torres is out too, having been suspended indefinitely pending a league hearing now set for Friday.

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