Coming into the 2013 season, almost no one could have predicted this type of run for the Chicago Blackhawks. More specifically, no one could have predicted this goaltending duo to play as well as it has.
The dynamic duo of Corey Crawford and Ray Emery has been absolutely lights out this season. Crawford has three losses, all in shootouts, while Emery’s record remains completely untarnished, having yet to lose a game in regulation, overtime, or in a shootout. Who could have seen that coming after this pair struggled so badly last season?
Many, or at least some, folks called a bounce back season from Crawford. The physical stuff was all there for him last year. It was just a matter of being mentally sharp and being able to see the puck. His head is on straight, his confidence is sky high, and he’s seeing the puck incredibly well, which has him as a Vezina Trophy candidate early on.
Perhaps even more impressive has been the play of Ray Emery. This is a guy whose career looked over after undergoing serious hip surgery a few years back. But now he’s back and, quite literally, better than ever.
Emery’s numbers on the season are outstanding. He’s 9-0-0 with a 2.02 goals-against average and a .926 save percentage. He was named the league’s Third Star for the month of February after posting a 7-0-0 record. It hasn’t been without its flaws, with the occasional hiccup in net, but he’s been terrific.
He looks much healthier than he did last year. He’s just a bit quicker and has demonstrated excellent positioning, for the most part. Of course, the defense in front of him has helped out a great deal in that regard.
It will be interesting to see if Emery sticks around as a backup beyond this year, as he is on another one-year deal. He’s still only 30, and won’t turn 31 until the end of September, just before the 2013-2014 season nears its beginning. Will he look to go elsewhere and look for an opportunity to battle for a starting job? It’s possible.
But with Crawford nursing another injury, Emery has been a terrific piece of the Blackhawks this season. Not bad for a guy who wasn’t supposed to be playing ever again just a few years ago.