BLACKHAWKS ANALYSIS: Is Corey Crawford The New Antti Niemi?

Last year, Cristobal Huet started the season as the Blackhawks No. 1 — and highly paid No. 1 at that — goaltender. He played well for most of the season, but by March had a handful of bad games and coach Joel Quenneville replaced him with Antti Niemi, who was outstanding down the stretch and in the playoffs. Huet played only one period in the Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup run and is now playing in Switzerland, due to the Hawks’ salary cap issues.

Niemi had to leave for San Jose due to the same cap problems, and the Hawks signed veteran Marty Turco to a relatively cheap $1.3 million contract. Turco started out well, but has struggled on the road trip and Corey Crawford has started three of the last six games, winning all of them. His GAA is down to 2.21 and it appears he’ll be starting tonight in Los Angeles.

Turco has more than nine years of NHL experience and has played in 47 playoff games. But at 35, he may be on the downside. Coach Q hasn’t hesitated to make changes that he thinks will help the team win. If Crawford keeps playing like this, keep him in goal. If Crawford can be the new Niemi, perhaps the Hawks have a winning run in them yet this year.

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