The more I watch this series the more I think Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford doesn't get his due. I know he had a rocky start to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, getting supplanted at one point by backup Scott Darling. But I think he's definitely the reason Chicago is leading the Tampa Bay Lightning with a chance to win another championship in Game 6 Monday at United Center (8 pm. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports).
When you look at the saves Crawford made late in the second period and early in the third period in Game 5 on Saturday, it was clear he buttoned down and gave the Blackhawks a chance. Right before Blackhawks forward Antoine Vermette's game-winner, Crawford made two or three great saves that kept Game 5 tied. He was the reason the Blackhawks won that game. And with no clear-cut Conn Smythe Trophy candidate in this series, Crawford would be my pick if the Blackhawks win tonight.
Crawford doesn't receive a ton of respect as a goaltender; people like to say it's easy to play behind a team this good. But at the end of the night he wins, and this postseason he's had to make several big saves to do it behind a defense that is thinner than it's ever been. If Chicago ends up winning this series, he'll be one of two full-time starters in the League to have won the Stanley Cup twice, along with the Los Angeles Kings' Jonathan Quick. Eventually people have to realize there might be a reason.