A backup goalie can determine many different things in the sport of hockey. The outcome of a game — and in some cases a season — can be determined by the backup goaltender. Backup goalies can introduce new stars and end the careers of those once known as stars. Unfortunately for Ray Emery, it’s just been a thing he’s gotten used to over his career.
The man known as “Razor” first entered the league in 2002 with the Ottawa Senators. His role with them increased quicker than anticipated. By 2006 he was the No. 1 guy in net and helped propel the Senators all the way to the Stanley Cup where they eventually lost in five games to the Anaheim Ducks. Since then, he hasn’t played in more than 34 games in a single season.
There was some hope in rebirth for the Canadian native. Last season, Emery posted a 17-1 record with three shutouts in a Chicago Blackhawks uniform. His .922 save percentage and 1.94 goals against average helped take some of the pressure off of Corey Crawford en route to a Stanley Cup ring.
With their optimism set high, the Philadelphia Flyers decided to take another shot with Emery between the pipes. Emery played in Philadelphia for one season back in 2009. Many thought Emery would snag the job at the start of the season. The goaltending situation wasn’t exactly set in stone when camp started. Nevertheless, the haunting title of “backup” has cursed him again. It’s clear that Steve Mason is playing better than Emery, but Razor is only shooting himself in the foot. In 11 games this season, he’s produced a miserable 3-6 record with a .891 save percentage and a 3.02 goals against average.
Some have blamed the bad numbers on the Flyers’ mediocre defense. However, it’s hard to make that argument when you look at the numbers. Last season Emery faced an average of 22 shots per game. That was with a Stanley Cup winning defense. This season, Emery is facing only one more shot per game (23).
Despite winning a ring, Emery will be known as nothing more than the “backup.” Who knows when he’ll get his next shot in goal.