Rumors are swirling about the possibility that Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price may have played his last game in the NHL.
Price, the fifth overall pick in the 2005 NHL Draft, is considered a sure-fire Hall of Famer by most analysts and fans alike. He carried the Habs for almost 20 years and earned almost every individual award a netminder can — and was named the league’s most valuable player once.
When considering great goaltenders — or any greats for that matter — there are players who have fallen between the cracks in the conversation. There always are, and sometimes fans bringing up their favorite team’s player is automatically labeled a meatball, homer argument.
But, for the sake of being that guy, let’s make a case for a little more love for Corey Crawford.
The Blackhawks drafted Crawford in the second round (No. 52 overall) in the all-time great 2003 NHL Draft. For a number of reasons (including having options to be sent down, unlike Antti Niemi at the time), Crawford didn’t grab the net in Chicago until his age-26 season (2010-11). He earned All-Rookie honors that first season, appearing in 57 games.
Unfortunately, injuries slowed Crawford’s career and, ultimately, ended it. He left the Blackhawks for a deal with the New Jersey Devils but never appeared in even a preseason game for the Devils; he retired before the season began.
Price, on the other hand, jumped into the NHL as a 20-year-old. He, too, was named All-Rookie after appearing in 41 games and finished fourth in Calder Trophy voting for his work during the 2007-08 season.
Let’s take a moment to compare Crawford’s numbers over his ten year stretch with the Blackhawks to those ten years of Price’s prime.
2010-11 to 2019-20
Games Played (started): 480 (469)
Shots Against: 13,736
Save Pct: .918
Crawford shared the Jennings Trophy in 2013 and 2015 and finished in the top ten for the Vezina Trophy three times during this window.
2007-08 to 2016-17
Games Played (started): 509 (500)
Shots Against: 15,058
Save Pct: .920
Price shared the Jennings Trophy once (in 2015 — with Crawford). That season he also won the Hart Trophy and the Vezina Trophy. He finished in the top ten for the Vezina six times during this window.
The biggest difference between Crawford and Price is the longevity factor. Crawford’s ten-year window was really the total of his NHL career; Price appeared in 203 games after the window we used for the comparison. However, Price’s numbers slid to a .908 save percentage and 2.77 goals against average in the three-plus seasons after the decade we used for comparison.
While Blackhawks fans will point to the biggest difference between the two being the two Stanley Cup rings Crawford won in Chicago, the doubters will say he had incredible teams in front of him. And they’re right; the 2013 and 2015 Cup winners were loaded with future Hall of Famers.
But even Patrick Kane admitted that Crawford probably should have won the Conn Smythe for his performance in 2013. And we’ll always have Crawford’s incredible time on the mic at the championship rally.
Crawford appeared in 96 postseason games, posting a .918 save percentage and a 2.38 goals against average.
Price appeared in 92 postseason games, posting a .919 save percentage and 2.39 goals against average. He did appear in one Stanley Cup Final (2021), losing to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the weird post-pandemic postseason.
Their playoff numbers are eerily almost identical. Their regular seasons numbers are incredibly comparable as well.
So let’s pour one out for Corey Crawford. I think hockey fans at large have taken how good he was for a decade in Chicago for granted.