CHICAGO — Blackhawks players and coaches were not panicking over the play of goaltender Corey Crawford, who let in five goals in Wednesday night’s Game 4 victory over the Bruins.
“I don’t really see anything terribly wrong with the way he played,” captain Jonathan Toews said on Thursday. “Maybe some of the shots from far out that went in overshadowed some of the stops that he did make.”
Crawford struggled with his glove, as all five goals went to that side. Coach Joel Quenneville said he would talk to Crawford about that, but there was no way he would switch to backup Ray Emery, who has not played since the end of the regular season.
“[Wednesday] night’s game was one of those games where pucks were going in,” Quenneville said. “But all year long Corey has just moved on, and he just moves from save to save and it doesn’t faze him.”
Among the eye-popping stats from Wednesday’s shootout were the five Blackhawks goals scored with Bruins captain Zdeno Chara on the ice. Quenneville reassembled the line of Toews, Patrick Kane, and Bryan Bickell, and it performed well against Chara.
The Blackhawks said Thursday it was time to stop avoiding Chara. “Maybe at times in the first couple games we were giving him a little bit too much respect by trying to keep the puck away from him,” Toews said. “He’s not a guy that we should be afraid of. We should go at him, protect the puck from him, make plays around him and through him. We [have to] use our speed.
That same combination was not afraid to physically challenge Chara, starting with a hit in the first period courtesy of the 6-foot-4-inch Bickell. “He doesn’t like getting hit,” Bickell said. “Not a lot of guys attempt it, but to get a hit on him and to see him fall down, it’s rare, but I just needed to keep it going.”
Quenneville shortened his bench in Game 4, going with only five defensemen for the most part, as Nick Leddy was limited to four shifts and 2:37 of ice time. Leddy is a minus-7 in the playoffs, but Quenneville implied he would play in Saturday night’s Game 5.
“We didn’t play him a ton [Wednesday] night,” said Quenneville, “but we still think that we’ll be home and we look to get him back going.”
What was Toews’s reaction when he tipped in a Michal Rozsival shot for only his second goal of the playoffs?
“Finally,” he said. “Just wanted a lucky one, and that was it.”
But Toews acknowledges there is more work to do. “It’s not time to just dwell on that one goal,” he said. “I have to use that confidence and go find a way to score more.”
Facing the problem
One major improvement for the Blackhawks in Game 4 was the nearly even split on faceoffs won (Bruins, 39-38). That was far different than Game 3, when the Bruins overwhelmed the Blackhawks, 40-16.