BOSTON — The Bruins have found a hole in Corey Crawford‘s game, and it’s a pretty big one — quite literally.
Boston has absolutely abused Crawford’s glove side through the first four games of the Stanley Cup Final, and that inability to stop just about anything with the leather on his left hand almost cost Crawford and the Blackhawks in Game 4. Despite finally waking up offensively, Chicago was still pushed to overtime, where they won 6-5 after blowing two two-goal leads.
They blew those leads mostly because of Crawford. The Chicago netminder has shown no reason to believe that he can stop any puck headed to his left, and the numbers back it up.
The Bruins have scored 12 goals in four Stanley Cup Final games. Of those 12 goals, 10 of them have been scored on Crawford’s glove side. All five of Boston’s goals in Game 4 on Wednesday night were to Crawford’s glove side.
Crawford may have a shaky glove, but he isn’t stupid. He certainly sees what the Bruins are trying to do.
“Well, 99 percent of the shots are going glove side. I don’t know what you would say,” Crawford said. “I can’t start thinking about that. That’s when you get in trouble when you start thinking everything is going to go glove. I’m just going to play the way I’ve been playing and stick with that.”
The Bruins weren’t necessarily admitting to targeting the glove. Not really, at least.
“We just try to score goals wherever we find openings,” defenseman Zdeno Chara said.
The Bruins aren’t the first team to take advantage of Crawford’s inability to catch pucks flying at him. The Red Wings beat Crawford clean to his glove side five times in their seven-game series in the second round. In the Western Conference finals, however, the Kings didn’t beat Crawford to the glove side, not even once, on the way to losing in five games.
The glove-side issues may be overstated just a little bit. For example, there wasn’t a goalie in the world who could have stopped Johnny Boychuk‘s blast from the point on Wednesday night. Patrice Bergeron‘s first goal of the night was helped along by the fact that the puck bounced off the top of the net and landed right in front. So there’s that, too.
The Hawks aren’t too worried.
“Corey has been great for us all year, all playoffs,” Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville said. “He just moves forward. Commend him. We got the win. You know, he’ll be fine.”
However, the Bruins have found a hole, and Crawford knows it. We’ll find out Saturday night in a pivotal Game 5 if there’s anything the Blackhawks goalie can do about it.