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Corey Crawford seeks to continue his mastery of the Red Wings

Chicago Blackhawks v Detroit Red Wings

Chicago Blackhawks v Detroit Red Wings

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Updated: May 14, 2013 3:14PM



Corey Crawford’s almost sheepish response belies the reality that although the Blackhawks win games with defense, it was Crawford’s excellence as much as anything that carried them to a 4-0-0 sweep of the Red Wings in the regular season.

He never was better than in a playoff-atmosphere showdown in a nationally televised game March 3 at Joe Louis Arena, when the Blackhawks were the talk of the league with 21 consecutive games without a regulation loss.

Crawford stopped 32 of 33 shots in regulation and overtime — several in spectacular fashion — then stopped Pavel Datsyuk, Damien Brunner and Henrik Zetterberg in the shootout for a 2-1 victory.

In four victories against the Red Wings, Crawford had a 1.19 goals-against average and a .960 save percentage (121 saves on 126 shots).

‘‘I don’t know. I can’t explain it,’’ Crawford said. ‘‘[The Wings are] one of those teams I guess that has gone well for me this year. Who knows? We’ve had some big games against them this year. It’s one of those years I guess against a team where you’ve played well and everything has gone right for you.’’

But in the playoffs, he’s starting over.

‘‘Every game’s different,’’ Crawford said. ‘‘Even during the regular season, at no point did we think because we had a good record against [the Red Wings] that it was going to be easy or in our favor. It’s a tough game against them. We’ve got to forget about what’s happened and worry about Game 1.”

Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said he doesn’t think Crawford has the whammy on the Red Wings. But Crawford’s excellent play against the Minnesota Wild (1.32 goals-against average; .950 save percentage) after first-round defeats the previous two seasons and his body of work in 2013 is something to build on.

If there’s an indicator, it’s that Crawford has shown the ability to rise to the occasion.

‘‘We have full confidence in Crow,’’ defenseman Brent Seabrook said. ‘‘We need him to be good. [But] we need to help him. We need our forwards coming back. We need the D-men to play well. He’s been great all season, him and Ray [Emery]. We’ve got to play well [as a team].’’



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