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Blackhawks say they have goalie luxury, not controversy

Dec 23, 2011, 7:24 PM EDT

Jamal Mayers, Ray Emery

When the Chicago Blackhawks haven’t been shooting self-aware Christmas videos, they’ve been lighting goalies up and winning more often than not. They haven’t always been getting great goaltending from Corey Crawford, however, so when Ray Emery looked swell in a nice chunk of games, some wondered if the ‘Hawks top spot might be up for grabs.

That’s simply not the case, according to the team. CSNChicago.com’s Tracey Myers caught up with Joel Quenneville, who looks at the situation like a luxury instead of a controversy.

When it comes down to it, Crawford and Emery only really need to tread water most nights thanks to Chicago’s elite offensive attack. Neither netminder has All-Star caliber numbers, but Emery does have slightly better stats.

Crawford: 24 games played, 13-7-2, 2.91 GAA and .898 save percentage
Emery: 14 GP, 9-2-2, 2.54 GAA and .908 save percentage

The Blackhawks are putting a positive spin on the situation, yet if the goal is to push for their second Stanley Cup in three seasons, they’ll need better work from their should-be No. 1 guy Crawford. It might not be a crisis or controversy just yet, but it’s a growing concern – especially if their offensive “luxury” dries up.

  1. danphipps01 - Dec 23, 2011 at 7:33 PM

    Having great offense and hit-and-miss goaltending isn’t a Cup-winning combination. Ask the Flyers and Capitals about how their Cup-hunting quests have gone the past few years. You have to wonder if they might have been better-served signing a couple of their top six forwards to slightly more conservative contracts and trying to keep Niemi on hand. I mean, if he can put up good numbers with a team as questionable in its own zone as the Sharks… yeah, he’s a good goalie. Crawford… well, he’s had flashes, but you really have to wonder what he’s got. I hope he turns it around. He’s the only real hole on the whole team.

    • pudgalvin - Dec 23, 2011 at 8:59 PM

      I don’t know, that’s pretty much how they won the cup year before last. Niemi didn’t play that well through the playoffs, 2.63 GAA, right in the wheelhouse of what Crawford/Emery are doing. Defense was probably a little better that year, but it’s not far off this year.

      • blomfeld - Dec 24, 2011 at 12:33 AM

        I agree … back in the 80’s, the Oilers won 4 Stanley Cups in five years with supreme firepower, despite “up & down” goal-tending from Andy Moog and Grant Fuhr …

      • danphipps01 - Dec 24, 2011 at 1:21 AM

        Pudgalvin – playoff GAA is often lower than regular season. If Crawford’s doing this questionably now, he wouldn’t make it through two rounds in the playoffs. Goalies are under LESS pressure in the regular season. Everyone dials up the performance in the playoffs, so unless he pulled out Halak-level craziness, he’d crash and burn. Emery’s looking like he’s trying to return to his old glory, and that’s an interesting prospect, but… well, so did Roloson. Now what’s he got going for him? No-one can count on Emery lasting, and Crawford might not achieve playoff contender form in the immediate future. If it’s not looking completely turned around by game sixty or so, I’d consider a trade a must-do to make a playoff run.

        Blomfeld – it was the eighties. Scoring talked. Also, they had Gretzky, Messier, Kurri, Coffey, Anderson… don’t get me wrong, the ‘Hawks have a lot of star power, but that team has never been rivalled before or since. There’s never been anything else like it. Three fifty-goal forwards and a forty-goal defenseman meant they didn’t really need to know what their own zone looked like – they didn’t play in it all that much. Modern hockey is a lot more even – both teams get plenty of scoring chances and defense and goaltending are overwhemingly critical. A great goalie can take an awful team to the Finals, but a great offense can’t get far with a bad one. The Ovechkin-era Capitals have yet to see the Conference Finals. The Tampa Bay Lightning, currently one of the worst teams in the NHL, took the champions to a one-goal game seven just LAST YEAR. Same roster. Only difference is, Roloson isn’t playing out of his mind anymore.

        I get what you’re saying, guys. I do. But reliable, high-level goaltending is pretty much required in the post-lockout NHL. Osgood in clutch mode for the Wings, Ward playing at one-season glory levels so the ‘Canes could edge out the Oilers (themselves the eighth seed of the West in the Finals only because of Roloson’s LAST glory run), Tim Thomas for the Bruins… Fleury and Niemi might not have earned the Conn Smythe in their respective runs, but even they played well by playoff standards. Without higher-level performance than either of the current guys seem to be putting out, I don’t think another Cup is possible.

    • pudgalvin - Dec 24, 2011 at 10:53 AM

      I don’t disagree, but Niemi was better in the regular season in ’09 than he was during the playoffs. It’s not an ideal way to win, but it’s not unheard of. With a great offense, you don’t absolutely have to have Brodeur in net.

      • blomfeld - Dec 24, 2011 at 10:00 PM

        danphipps01 – fair comment and probably true “today” for the most part … but there are exceptions … never forget that the best defense is often a powerful offense (ie: forget your own backyard, take the fight to your enemy’s turf) …

      • danphipps01 - Dec 25, 2011 at 4:07 AM

        The Caps tried that for several years. Couldn’t make it to the third round, let alone the Finals. The reason the Flyers got to the Finals against the ‘Hawks? Their fairly low-tier goalie, a career backup, went on a baffling hot streak. Leighton did to them what Halak did to a godawful Canadiens roster – took them farther than they had any right to go. Contrast this with the forget-your-own-backyard Caps. Both have come closer on their goalies’ backs than the Caps have on their forwards’.

  2. anotheryx - Dec 23, 2011 at 9:29 PM

    Bruins has a goalie luxury, I’m not quite sure what Hawks have.

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