11 games into the season, and the Chicago Blackhawks are 9-0-2. Compared to last season, the ‘Hawks are on fire, to say the least. No regulation losses, and the defense, including goaltending, is on par with the high-powered offense for the first time since the cup winning, 09-10 season. The goaltending duo from last year is long forgotten, and the best thing about that is, it’s the same pair! They are possibly the best battery in the league, and if this continues, Chicago is going to be a contender all year.
Corey Crawford is in the midst of his 3rd season as an NHL goaltender, and this is shaping up to be his best ever. He is 6-0-2 in 8 starts this season, and has played phenomenal. His two losses, (Minnesota & Vancouver, both in shootouts) are games that could have gone either way. He is controlling rebounds, playing the puck well, has better control over his angles, and is calm in between the pipes. He is 1st in the league in wins, 7th in save percentage, (.930%) and 6th in GAA, (1.82) This is definitely not the inconsistent Crawford we saw last year. During our poll earlier this season, over half of you believed he could lead the Blackhawks into the later rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He has done nothing to lead us to believe he can’t. This year he is one of the best goaltenders in the league, making saves at the right time, including a Glen-Hall-esque full-diving save on Derek Brassard. Corey Crawford has all the right moves so far, and all he needs to do is stay consistent, and him and his team will have a wonderful season.
Ray Emery is playing the role of the perfect backup, so far, for the Chicago Blackhawks. He has started games against the Phoenix Coyotes twice, and the Calgary Flames once, and he has won all 3 contests. He has started off the season with a .920 sv%, and a 2.59 GAA. He has to play the role of a goaltender that comes in to give the #1 netminder a night of rest, which is usually in a back-to-back, where he could play either the 1st game or 2nd depending on who the game is against. His playing schedule will also depend on the fatigue of Corey Crawford, and he may start the odd game here and there, like he did last night against the ‘Yotes. The game he played against the Flames on February 2nd was quite possibly the best in his career. He set two personal records, in saves, (45) and shots faced (47.) The Calgary Flames should have walked out of that game with the two points. Coach Q said it best. “That was criminal,” Quenneville said. “They’ve got to call the cops after that performance. Stole two points. He was spectacular.” And it was true, that was the best performance by a 2nd string goaltender I personally have ever seen in my 13-ish years of watching hockey. Emery just has to do his job, coming in when the coaching staff needs him to, hopefully only in a starting role.
On a final note, let’s remember that these two would not be having this good of a season if it was not for the 5 men in front of them. The Blackhawks as a whole are just clicking, they are doing all the things they have to, to win hockey games. The team is playing very strong defensively, and it showed in the game against Phoenix last night, as the Coyotes went 13 minutes with out a shot in the first period. When those shots do come, the ‘Hawks have two great goaltenders to make sure those shots don’t turn in to goals. If you are a ‘Hawks fan, you should be very pleased with Ray and Corey’s efforts so far this season. Here’s to hoping it continues for the next 37 games!
LETS GO HAWKS!
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