Why Corey Crawford is the hottest goaltender in the NHL

Tuesday, 17 October 2017, 11:52:40 PM. No starting goaltender in the NHL is off to a hotter start than Corey Crawford.

This season, goaltender looks out through the rectangles in his mask and sees some new faces.

The Hawks have remade their defense and instead of , and Trevor van Riemsdyk, Crawford is playing with Connor Murphy, Jan Rutta and Cody Franson.

The Hawks are off to a solid 4-1-1 start — and while the defense is learning how to jell Crawford has been its reliable backstop.

In fact, no starting goaltender in the is off to a hotter start than Crawford.

In five starts, he has allowed just seven goals for a goals against average of 1.39 and a save percentage of .960 — both statistics are tops in the league entering Tuesday for any goaltender who started more than one game.

"You look at what he's done every single year, his reliability and consistency's been outstanding," coach said. "He's kind of like (Patrick Kane), he seems to get a little better every year. … Goaltenders with experience, they seem to get better with age."

Crawford, 32, said he didn't change much about his offseason routine except to incorporate more cardiovascular work and less heavy lifting. Crawford is also never satisfied with his play.

"There are always adjustments to be made," Crawford said. "Teams are always trying to find ways to score and throughout the year there's times when certain things aren't working as well as others and I think we try and work on that in practice."

It'd be hard for Crawford to get much better.

According to Corsica.hockey, Crawford has faced 30 high-danger shot attempts in his five starts during 5-on-5 play — the second most of any goaltender. He has allowed only two high-danger goals for a high-danger save percentage of .933, best in the league.

It's a double-pronged statistic. It shows how great Crawford has been but also shows the Hawks defense needs to improve and can't keep expecting Crawford to bail it out. The Hawks' 36.5 shots allowed per game were the most in the league.

"We've definitively given up more quantity (shots). I think the quality has been probably a little higher than what we've seen in the past, but not much," Quenneville said. "We want to cut down on both — quality and quantity."

He has had strong starts in the last few seasons, much like this month when he has helped the Hawks get points in game they might not otherwise win. But he has seen his starts fizzle because of injury or illness. Two seasons ago he battled a head injury late in the season and wasn't quite the same coming back and last season he had an appendectomy that derailed a hot October and November.

"Part of being consistent is to stay healthy and be there for the team throughout the whole year," Crawford said. "Any player that's playing in a game doesn't want to be out, doesn't want to sit on the side and it's hopefully something we can avoid."

Otherwise, the Hawks may be trouble without him.

Twitter @ChristopherHine

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