With there being a pause in the NHL season due to the Olympic break, we thought we would hand out on some grades on the Chicago Blackhawks players. Today we will take a look at the goaltenders and how they have done so far. Corey Crawford, Antti Raanta, and Nikolai Khabibulin will all be evaluated and given a grade.
Let's take a look at the goalies' stats at this point in the season:
Goals Against Average: 2.35
Save Percentage: .916
Crawford started the season as the Blackhawks' clear-cut starter and that's where he remains. He has been solid in net, but not spectacular. While making impressive saves this season, Crawford has also let in some soft goals. He has allowed three or more goals in 16 games this season, a number that needs to go down moving forward. He has played better as of late, allowing three or more goals just once in his last seven, including picking up his first shutout of the season.
Crawford suffered a lower-body injury on December 8 against the Florida Panthers and had to sit out for just under a month. One has to wonder if the lack of rest played a toll on Crawford's body and was part of the cause for his injury. He started 20 consecutive games from October-November, including four sets of back-to-backs.
Goals Against Average: 2.40
Save Percentage: .904
Raanta wasn't expected to play in the NHL this season as he started in the AHL. The 24 year old rookie was called up after the injury to Nikolai Khabibulin and has filled in nicely. Raanta started off his career by allowing exactly two goals in seven straight games. He would have strong outings, but showed inconsistency by letting up five goals in a game on more than one occasion.
Raanta would then have to become the team's starter due to Crawford's injury. He wasn't sensational in net, but he did enough to give them a chance to win most nights and kept them near the top of the standings.
Considering Raanta is a rookie, we can't expect that much of him, especially since he was thrown into the back-up role and the starting role unexpectedly. He has done well and has gained some valuable experience and playing time. We're not sure if the Blackhawks could depend on him in the playoffs though.
Goals Against Average: 5.00
Save Percentage: .811
Khabibulin started as the team's back-up goalie, but struggled right away. His lack of production and woeful goaltending led to Crawford having to play more games. Khabibulin suffered a groin injury on November 16 against Nashville and has not played since. He also underwent successful surgery to repair another injury, a torn rotator cuff. His timetable for recovery was five to six months, but one has to wonder if Khabibulin's career could be over due to his age (41) and combination of injuries.
These are our grades for the goalies thus far. Grades for the forwards and defensemen will be coming shortly.
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