NHL Chicago Blackhawks

Will the Chicago Blackhawks Stay at the Top despite Goalie Woes?

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Corey Crawford skated by himself before practice on Tuesday, which is a sign that things are progressing well after the concussion he sustained during the Chicago Blackhawks’ game with the Anaheim Ducks. Fans are worried about him, but they’re not as worried about the status of the team’s goaltending situation. This is a good thing, trust me.

If this had happened last season, everyone would’ve given up on the Blackhawks finishing on the playoff bubble, much less at the position they did. The goaltending was inconsistently consistent, with Crawford and backup goaltender Ray Emery frequently switching places. It was a never-ending cycle: one would be on a winning streak and then cool off with a couple of losses before the other was called in to replace him in net. It even happened during games, particularly to Crawford. Goaltending was one of the Blackhawks’ biggest weaknesses, and it was the biggest question mark coming into this season.

This season is a complete turnaround. Crawford is having a great start with a 7-0-3 record in 10 games and his first shutout in almost two years, and he’s already made some incredible highlight-reel saves. Emery is having similar success, with a 7-0-0 record and 45 of 47 saves made in his game against the  Calgary Flames – everyone agrees that he was the savior of that game. It’s a testament to his play that fans aren’t biting their nails when the announcement comes that he’s starting.

The question now is whether Emery can keep his luck alive now that he’s in the starting position. If he can, the Blackhawks can breathe easy while Crawford recovers. But what if he goes back to last year’s cyclical performance? Emery’s backup is Henrik Karlsson, called up from Rockford, who didn’t have the best record in his limited starts with the Calgary Flames. One can only hope that Crawford and Emery’s success will rub off onto Karlsson if his services are required.

As fans hope for Crawford’s speedy recovery, their eyes will be on Emery. The team’s success now hinges on him. The fewer the pucks behind him, the better.