I’m trying something different this year.
Instead of tweeting a million times a day, I want to publish blogs with scouting notes in order to give you a more in-depth account of my observations on the goalies I evaluate.
Since I’m based in Minnesota now, my focus this afternoon was directed to the Hawks and Kings. But NBC decided to switch games for the third period, so I apologize for not having a full account of that game.
COREY CRAWFORD: I’m really interested to see how he holds up in this condensed season after a forgettable sophomore campaign. I thought he was inconsistent not only with his performances, but with his overall technical game. Some nights he was aggressive with his general positioning, other nights he was trying to play deeper and rely on his size too much.
I thought he was doing too much “tweaking” and “tinkering” within the season, and over-thinking his game at times.
Corey is rightfully known for his strong work ethic, but I still projected him as one of the “weaker” starting goalies in the NHL. Obviously I hope he proves me wrong, but in terms of fantasy value, I’ve projected and ranked him very low.
The grueling schedule does him no favors, either. The Blackhawks have 12 back-to-back games and they log a ton of miles. It will be unforgiving, and so Crawford will need to mentally mature to a point where his strong work ethic and practice habits don’t work against him.
Crawford probably had to execute some mental drills to begin the game, as he didn’t face a shot in the first six minutes, which had to test his patience and focus. He faced a Kings PP chance at 14:09, but the few shots attempted didn’t hit the net. I noticed he had two or three successful puck handles, an area I believe he has struggled with in the past because he’s not the best or most fluid skater.
I thought Corey was “quietly good” in the first period. I noticed he was more confident and composed moving/playing the puck and his positioning was sound. I point to a nice save at 11:32 on Lewis — he was at the top of the crease, squared up, and executed good rebound control. He recovered with the wrong leg, but there was no scoring threat present, so it wasn’t an issue.
Crawford stopped all eight shots he saw in the first period after not facing a shot for the first six minutes.
In the second period, he was rarely tested, but when the Kings did get a few good chances, he was solid. He made a good stop with 9:55 left in the frame, finding a shot from the left point with Dustin Brown on his doorstep. He bobbled the puck for a second, but covered up while on his belly.
He made another good stop with 8:12 left in the period, coming at the tail end of the power play. He pushed right to left, stayed on his skates, fought off a shot with his left arm/shoulder and directed the puck back to his left so it didn’t land in the slot.
It wasn’t a “pretty” save by any means, but he displayed good awareness of the situation, and good rebound control once again. What sometimes will look unorthodox can actually be additional effort to put the puck in a more effective place.
The Kings finally brought a more physical presence late in the second period, and they finally killed the shutout. A shot from the right point caught Crawford looking to the right of a massive screen by two players, but the shot beat him on the left side. He had no clue where the puck was, and it was a perfect screen in front.
He stopped five of six shots in the second period.
After the second ended, I thought Crawford was doing a real good job of actually moving into shooting lanes with slight leans with his upper body. In a game where millimeters matter, being able to read the trajectory and aerial angle of a shot as it’s being released off the blade of the stick, and then adjust the upper body and shoulders and arms in order to fill a lane is a crucial component to successful NHL goaltending.
Before NBC preemptively switched to the Flyers-Penguins game, Crawford made a save on Dwight King (above) with 17:57 left in the third period. It was another example of him subtly and slightly moving his core behind a shot. It was a good save through traffic with no rebound.
Crawford and the Blackhawks spoiled the Kings’ celebration with a 5-2 win. He stopped 19-of-21 shots. Even though the Kings were sloppy and didn’t test him, this was a big confidence-boosting win for Crawford, and I liked what I saw in 43 minutes of action.
JONATHAN QUICK: Obviously my focus for Quick to begin this season is seeing if he moves and reacts like he did last season, so as to prove he’s 100-percent healthy. I’m also curious if he can reach his usual elite level of play without a lengthy Cup hangover. I think everyone knows he won’t be
Early in the game, especially in the first few minutes, he looked sharp and comfortable. He faced a 5-on-3 just a few minutes into the game and made some impressive saves. A few times during that 5-on-3, he was down early off his left post, but it didn’t cost him.
On the one-timer goal from Kane, Quick was beat from a sharp angle off his left post. It was a perfect shot for sure, and you can break this one down a bunch of different ways, but I’ll point out what I saw on this particular play.
When Quick begins to drop his right knee down to the ice in order to begin executing the VHS, it also brings his right shoulder down, which takes away from his ability to stay square. This shifts his momentum and pulls him AWAY from the post, as opposed to him staying fully upright and pushing with more power into the post. He’s not necessarily leaning away from the post, but he’s not driving into it, either.
This is by no means a goal I fault him for since it comes down two men, but it’s just something I notice in terms of his body movement. Again, in a game of millimeters, this sort of thing makes a difference. You’ll hear me say this a million times in these sort of blogs.
The second goal was clearly a bad bounce. The third goal was a gorgeous one-timer ripped from the middle of the slot by Frolik. The shot just beats Quick to the left of his glove, off the post and in. Tremendous release on the shot, which beat Quick despite his solid and powerful lateral push.
Quick got caught doing too much on the fourth goal. He makes a good save closing the five-hole after an attempted poke check, but then he gets turned around and can’t recover in time to stop Jonathan Toews. I thought Quick actually did a good job to catch and re-gain an edge with his left skate as he was spinning around, but there’s a moment where he loses eye-attachment to the puck because he does a complete 360 in the blue paint.
Quick re-attaches to the puck quickly, but by then it’s too late, and Toews makes a cerebral move to hold the puck and slam it home under the glove.
One reason why I despise poke checks in tight is because your body can’t always maintain stability when you’re throwing the stick out and then trying to recoil it. You also have to commit a certain amount of focus and energy to make that move, and when that happens, you’re unable to make adjustments with other parts of the body. You’re lunging and committing, and if you watch the replay, Quick’s stick was all over the place, which may have taken away from his ability to seal the ice on Toews’ chance.
Stanley Cup hangover? Absolutely. Will he bounce back? You bet. It’s a pretty big wake up call, and even though he was a fantasy-team killer today and displayed some rust, I thought he looked fine.