Chicago Sun-Times

Ray Emery gets his chance to take the Blackhawks' No. 1 spot in goal

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Coach Joel Quenneville made his sales pitch to the media Sunday after practice at Johnny's IceHouse West.

"[Ray Emery] has played very well basically every time he's been in the net for us this year," Quenneville said. "He's been consistent; he's been solid, predictable, dependable. The guys play well in front of him."

As expected, Emery will start in goal Tuesday against the Colorado Avalanche and will have a chance to claim the No. 1 job for the final stretch into the playoffs.

Quenneville said it's different than the last three seasons when the Hawks looked for one goalie to take over, saying he thinks Emery and Crawford both have played well.

But it's really the same. They are looking for consistency and the more confident goalie.

Emery (11-4-2, .904 save percentage, 2.73 goals-against average) started six straight games in December, but since then Crawford has carried the load in goal. By this time last season, Crawford (18-13-5, .900, 2.94) had already secured the No. 1 job over veteran Marty Turco.

"In Ray's situation, he hasn't had a great chance to run with it," Quenneville said. "Corey's had a lot of key games here recently."

The Hawks are the only team without a shutout this season and they're allowing nearly three goals a game. Quenneville said he's looking for consistent play in net to benefit those in front him.

"A lot of the times the team in front of him responds to the way the goaltenders are playing," Quenneville said. "They are comfortable and they trust each other. I think both guys are strong mentally. Everybody has some stretches where you've got some confidence and your game is at a different level.

"Particularly when you're in net, the puck is bigger to you and you seem to be finding it. And sometimes it bounces and it plays tricks with you. I think working with [goalie coach Stephane Waite] and trying to recapture that confidence that we've seen so many nights in the net for us is something we're going to try to recapture here [with Crawford]."

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Not sure why it's taken so long to come to the conclusion that Emery has outplayed Crawford in every phase of the game. When the Hawks last had a winning streak it was with Emery. But the powers to be felt compelled to insert Crawford back as #1. The fact is every time Emory has had at least a few games under his belt he has stepped up with confidence and his play reflects that. Crawford has had his time to shine and the window is closing fast on this season. Let's roll with Emery and see how far he can take this team.

There's not much difference between them.
In fact, they both get scored on when the Hawks aren't physical enough on defense.

Good move. Let's hope he gets off to a good start vs. the Avs tonight.

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About the blogger

Adam L. Jahns is a native Chicagoan hailing from the Far Northwest Side. Jahns has been with the Sun-Times since 2005, covering the Hawks since 2009. He's also helped cover the Bears, Cubs, Sox and high schools.



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This page contains a single entry by Adam L. Jahns published on February 6, 2012 12:40 PM.

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