Saturday night’s win over the St. Louis Blues felt like the first time in a long time that the Blackhawks had little questions to answer after a win.
Sure, there are still obvious fixes that this team will need to make as the season wears on, but after the past few weeks, it was nice to get a win without the “yeah, we won but…” out of the team, fans, and analysts.
Since this was one of those wins with few questions to answer afterwards, it should come as a surprise to no one that Ray Emery was in goal for it, right?
Okay, that might be a stretch. Emery is not the answer to the Hawks’ recent problems, but he is a temporary fix. He wasn’t exactly Patrick Roy between the pipes against St. Louis, but he was solid, made the saves he needed to make, and found himself on the better end of Chicago’s 5-2 win.
The more we see Corey Crawford stumbling all over the crease, the more his issues in net become more and more clear. What exactly is wrong with Crawford, mentally or technically, is not exactly clear, but we can explain what is obvious. His confidence is dwindling, he’s having a harder time moving around down in the crease, and it looks like he’s having a difficult time locating the puck.
Yes, the Hawks’ defense hasn’t exactly been stellar, but defense also starts with your goaltender. Last season, we saw Crawford make some brilliant saves and go on stretches within games that kept the Hawks either tied or close, even when he was waiting for the rest of the team to catch up. It’s what elite goaltenders do.
It’s what we haven’t seen Crawford do yet this season, save a couple of performances here and there. We just haven’t seen the consistency.
Not that Ray Emery has won over the confidence of the Blackhawks’ fanbase. His start against Edmonton didn’t do him any favors in that regard. But as unpopular of an opinion as it may be, it’s probably time that he start seeing more time in goal, at least right now.
We all know how Joel Quenneville likes to ride the hot hand. I use that term “hot hand” loosely. Right now, yes Emery is better than Crawford. Does that mean he’s going to string together consecutive starts and get the nod against Phoenix this week? Maybe, maybe not.
I think he should. And I bet Joel Quenneville is seriously considering it. On their best day, Crawford is far and away the better goaltender, but since we have yet to see that “best day” from Craw yet this year, it’s time to get Emery out there to allow Crawford to get his head straight. Emery’s a backup. He isn’t expected to dazzle. He’s the veteran that’s supposed to come in and just play a solid game in net.
With the exception of the Edmonton game, Emery has been solid for the Hawks this season, if unspectacular. If it means less soft goals for the time being, then I’m all in favor of Emery seeing some more time in the coming weeks.