A year ago, everyone was complaining about how terrible the Chicago Blackhawks’ goaltending duo was. Both Corey Crawford and Ray Emery were not having the best season, and they were trading hot/cold streaks with disturbing frequency. They questioned Emery’s fitness in net and whether Crawford was truly ready for the role of primary goalie on the team. The shakiness in net was one of the team’s weaknesses and led to their early exit in the playoffs.
This season is very, very different. We’re seeing stronger net presence from both Crawford and Emery, and that’s been a huge factor in the amazing run the Blackhawks have been experiencing. The uncertainty that both men had last season is gone, and it’s been replaced with confidence and unbelievable saves that should be included on everyone’s highlight reels.
For Emery specifically, it’s a season that he shouldn’t be having due to the avascular necrosis in his hip that could’ve ended his hockey career. Instead of throwing in the towel and retiring, he had major surgery to correct it and went through months of painful rehab. The Blackhawks felt they needed his talents in net and signed him not only for last season but this season as well. For his efforts in February, including a 7-0-0 record, 1.66 goals-against average and .941 save percentage, Emery has been named the NHL’s Third Star of the Month.
Emery’s performance was bookended by two amazing games. In the game against the Calgary Flames on February 2, he rescued the team, who would’ve been cooked had he not literally pulled out all the stops, and handed them a shootout win. Then on the 28th, Emery helped the team earn their second shutout in a week when Crawford couldn’t return to the net. When Crawford sat out for four games, Emery showed finesse under pressure. To gild the lily that is the month, he was credited with the win that shattered the NHL record for most consecutive points to start a season.
What Emery’s brought to the Blackhawks is only one part of their unbelievable season. If he maintains this level of play, he’ll be an integral factor in their postseason run as well. Here’s to his continued success in such an amazing career.