The Chicago Blackhawks rolled into their tilt with the San Jose Sharks on Friday night with Ray Emery between the pipes. That was announced a couple of days ago. Emery was terrific in his two starts prior and a bit of rest for Corey Crawford was nothing unusual.
Then came the bombshell.
The Blackhawks called up the recently acquired Henrik Karlsson to sit on the bench behind Emery for Friday’s game. Speculation over what was wrong with Crawford spread quickly. Anything from the flu to a concussion was thought to be the source of Crawford’s absence.
Eventually, the Hawks announced that it was an upper-body injury for Crawford that would keep him out of Friday’s game. Which still leaves the door open for a possible concussion. Especially when you consider that a specific play against the Anaheim Ducks, when Bobby Ryan‘s knee met Crawford’s head, is being looked at as the source of his injury.
Whether it’s a concussion or not, Crawford is listed as day-to-day. He hasn’t been ruled out for Sunday’s game yet. Which is good news. But in the event that Crawford can’t come right back and Karlsson sticks around for a bit, is Emery capable of shouldering the load for the Blackhawks?
After a rough first start, in which he looked incredibly slow and couldn’t find the puck at all, Emery has looked terrific. He’s proven me wrong after I had said that the Hawks should seek other options for their spot on the bench behind Crawford. He’s been quicker, and has just looked better overall.
Does that mean he’s capable of starting a longer stretch of games for the Blackhawks? At this point, it’s hard to say that he wouldn’t be successful starting five or six games in a row for the Hawks. He looks terrific and the team in front of him does as well, which has made his life much easier.
But the concerns over his hip remain. How long before his bionic hip starts to have an effect on his play again, potentially slowing him down? At this point, those concerns don’t exist. He’s looked good. If Crawford can’t go, the Blackhawks look to be in capable hands with Emery.
Of course, that’s just for now. If this was heading into the postseason or the Hawks were in danger of missing a playoff spot, then there might be some concern. But with the team playing as well as they are, and Emery’s confidence currently sky high, the Hawks will be just fine if Crawford ends up missing a couple of starts.