NHL: Chicago Blackhawks at Colorado Avalanche

Crow For Hart

Yesterday I tweeted out the hashtag #CrowForHart, mostly tongue in cheek but with some sincerity. It’s only based on the fact that I like to jump all over pretty much anything Eddie Olczyk says, and for the past little while Eddie Plugs has been saying that Holtby should not just win the Vezina, but should be a finalist for the Hart Trophy as well, along with Patrick Kane and I assume Alex Ovechkin (though Seguin, Benn, and especially Erik Karlsson would have serious cases as well).

So the following comes with some caveats. One, this article only works if you believe in Eddie’s claim that Holtby should get Hart consideration, because I’m going to show you why then it makes more sense that Crow should get that if you believe that. Second, really, a goalie should probably always win the MVP, because no one holds more sway over a team in any sport. Seriously, the Panthers would probably be looking at competing for the #1 pick without Luongo instead of leading the division until the weekend. The Rangers probably would have made the playoffs once in the past decade without Lundqvist. We can go up and down on this. So if you think that goalies should be contained to to just Vezina consideration, I totally understand.

Anyway, let’s do it, and we’ll start with this:

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As you can see, at even strength there isn’t a category that Crow isn’t better than Holtby in, adjusted for score. His overall SV% is better, his adjusted save-percentage is over, and the big gap is their save-percentages on high-danger chances. Not only is Crow’s better than Holtby’s, he’s been making the “big save” more than any starting goalie in the league. That .891 SV% on high-danger chances is the best mark in the NHL. Crow’s also having to do more work, seeing more shots.

Crow has also had to do it more often. The Hawks give up 11.1 high-danger scoring chances per 60 minutes at evens. ¬†That’s 21st in the league. The Caps give up 10.1, which is 8th in the league. One high-danger chance per 60 minutes might not sound like much, but think about the difference of that chance going in and not. If you scale it down to just scoring chances, the Hawks are slightly better than the Caps, 24.6 per 60 to Washington’s 25.2 per 60. So when the Hawks give up chances, which they don’t do that often, they give up really good ones.

But a goalie’s job isn’t restricted to even-strength. So let’s look at the shorthanded numbers as well:

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Again, Crow’s numbers are better pretty much across the board, and he’s seeing way more shots on the kill than Holtby is. Crawford’s mark on high danger chances on the kill doesn’t lead the league but is comfortably in the top 10. And again, the Hawks ask Crow to do more on their kill. They’re 25th in the league in high-danger chances per 60 minutes when shorthanded. The Caps give up the 7th-least amount. The difference is 22.1 for the Hawks and 18.1 for the Caps, but again even one of those tickling twine more than it does now makes a huge difference. And on the kill, Crow faces the most shots per 60 in the league. So it’s a damn good thing that the Hawks don’t take a lot of penalties, otherwise they might be fucked no matter how good Crow has been.

Now again, this isn’t really trying to promote Crow for the Hart, when I know damn well he’s not even going to win the Vezina. But he should win the latter. But to most voters the Hawks remain a solid defensive team in their minds, but those of us who watch this team every night know that’s not really the case. Crow has been asked to do more than any starter in the league. And he’s done it better than anyone in the league.

We all know Kane is almost certainly going to take home the Hart, and he certainly has a more than valid case (and what a banner night for the NHL that will be). But I would say he’s not even the MVP on his own team.

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