I’ve been pretty resistant to use the word “controversy” in discussing the Blackhawks’ goalies this season, as much as Ray Emery has proven me wrong.
There’s no doubt that Emery has been brilliant since “taking over” for starting goaltender Corey Crawford. After that 9-2 drubbing that the Edmonton Oilers handed Emery and the Hawks back on November 19th, Emery has started seven games, and appeared in relief for Crawford in two.
In only one of those appearances did Emery experience a loss in regulation, which came against the Penguins on Tuesday. Even in that game, a 3-2 loss, Emery proved strong in stopping 25 of 28 shots. With strong performance after strong performance, Emery lowered his GAA to 2.54 and posted a .908 save percentage.
However, the starting goaltenders job still belongs to Corey Crawford. The Hawks made him their franchise goaltender this summer with a new contract, but he simply hasn’t been as strong this year. He’s allowed some soft goals and has a save percentage under. 900, just not appearing as confident between the pipes.
Ray Emery has deserved every start he’s gotten to this point. Joel Quenneville has a history of playing the hot hand, which Emery has obviously been over the past few weeks. I’ve been absolutely in favor of giving Crawford some rest to get his head straight, but it was nice to see him back on Wednesday night against the Montreal Canadiens.
Playing against his hometown team, Crawford allowed just the one goal in the Hawks’ 5-1 win heading into the Christmas break. Granted, he didn’t have to do much against the offensively-challenged Habs, facing only 21 shots.
Nonetheless, Crawford made the saves he needed to make, with the lone goal for the Canadiens coming on the power play. While he didn’t see a ton of action, it was good to see Crawford back in action for the first time in 16 games.
There’s no word on who could start on Monday against Columbus, when the Hawks return from the break. I’d imagine Crawford gets the shot, and if the team plays as well in front of him as they’ve played in front of Ray Emery, it shouldn’t be too long before we see him completely return to that form we all saw last year.