Maybe Corey Crawford isn’t so indispensable, after all.
OK, that’s not fair. Crawford has indisputably been the most important Blackhawks player over the past couple of seasons, holding together an ever-changing lineup and bailing out his teammates time and time again. But the stunning development of Crawford’s mystery long-term injury coming out of the Christmas break has hardly been the death-knell it was expected to be.
After a disastrous first game in Vancouver, Jeff Glass and Anton Forsberg have done more than just hold down the fort. They’ve held up the season. In the last eight games, the Hawks have yielded just 20 goals, going 5-2-1 in the process and climbing back into the playoff picture.
Forsberg is 2-1-0 with a .943 save percentage. Glass is 3-1-1 with a .918 save percentage and is coming off his best game yet, a 31-save performance in a 2-1 victory over a Winnipeg Jets squad that had scored four or more goals in six of its last seven games.
Glass will start again in Sunday’s matinee against the Detroit Red Wings, the Hawks’ last game before their bye week.
“We’ve had good goaltending and consistent net-minding all year,” Joel Quenneville said. “They keep doing what they’re supposed to do, and that’s make it tougher on us on [deciding] who starts and who gives us a chance every night to get points. This year, for sure, goaltending’s been good for us.”
Not just this year. Goaltending depth behind Crawford — who has had significant trouble staying healthy — has been one of the Hawks’ defining characteristics in recent seasons. Ray Emery got Vezina Trophy votes in 2013, when he went a preposterous 17-1-0. In 2014-15, Antti Raanta was second in the league in save percentage at .936. Then Scott Darling climbed from the depths of pro hockey and personal despair to displace Raanta and eventually earn a starting job in Carolina. Quenneville also pointed to former third-stringer Carter Hutton, who currently has a .940 save percentage with the Blues
Now come Forsberg and Glass, the latter of whose story is almost as unlikely as Darling’s. Darling climbed to the NHL from the Southern Professional Hockey League. Glass climbed to the NHL from Siberia.
“The scouts have found goalies who are having a tough time trying to find a place to play,” Quenneville said. “They get an opportunity here, and I like how they’ve all seized it. … It’s a competitive world out there, and we all know the importance of goaltending.”
Glass has spent more than two weeks talking about his feel-good story, happily indulging reporters in every city about his time in the KHL and how fortunate he feels to finally get his big break at age 32. But he hasn’t just been feel-good, he’s been flat-out good. His one hiccup came against the conference-leading Golden Knights, a 5-4 loss in which he still made 38 saves.
Against the Jets, Glass was nothing short of brilliant, stopping breakaways and point-blank shots to keep the Hawks in front in …read more
Source:: Chicago Sun-Times – Sports