Last season Chicago Blackhawks fans saw both Corey Crawford and Ray Emery struggle from time to time, not making the big saves when they needed to. Also, last season came to a devastatingly short end when Corey Crawford let in a very soft overtime goal that knocked the Blackhawks out of the playoffs early for the second straight year; after winning the Cup in 2010.
However, this season has been a one eighty to say the least with the Hawks goaltenders. The other Hawks players were ready to play when the lockout ended and so were Ray Emery and Corey Crawford.
It’s been a topic of discussion all season long in Chicago. Every game fans want to know “Who’s in the net?”
Not only did Crawford noticeably slim down, which explains him being much quicker in net this season, but he simplified his game as well. He’s staying square to shooters and he’s not getting caught outside the crease.
Then there’s Emery, who people forget should not even be playing hockey right now. Emery had a hip condition called Avascular Necrosis and needed to have a surgery that should have ended his career, but he continued to play. Before coming to Chicago he helped the Ducks go 7-2-0 getting them in good standing for the playoffs. This year he set an NHL record for best start (12-0-0).
Both goalies have three shutouts this season and the team got credited with one tying for the NHL lead of 7. The Blackhawks had 0 shut outs last year. As of Monday afternoon they were ranked #2 and #3 in Goals Against Average (1.90 Ray Emery) (1.92 Corey Crawford).
The organization seemed to make it clear time and time again this season that Corey Crawford was the Hawks go to goalie. He has played solid all year and seemed to only let in a handful of bad goals so far this season.
Ray Emery has gotten plenty of opportunities this season as the backup, especially with the shortened season. People seemed to think because Emery is playing more there is a goalie contest going on within the organization. Emery got three consecutive starts in a row last week and won them all, including two shutouts. Upon the conclusion of that stretch, everyone seemed to think Emery would be the new starting goalie.
It’s very possible that Emery was being tested by Coach Q for the playoffs. He wanted to know he could use him if needed. Emery indeed passed the test. He’s had an unbelievable season and is the best backup goalie in the NHL, but that’s all he may be… for now.
Despite all his accomplishments this season, Coach Q and the organization have not forgotten about his health issues, but they do know they can count on him when they have to. Lately Corey Crawford shutout a very tough and desperate St. Louis Blues in St. Louis Saturday and Emery tallied a win, but gave up two goals to the Dallas Stars Monday night.
Comedian, ChicagoNow.com writer
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