Blackhawks News

Who will Step Up?

By Keith Schultz

It’s March Madness has arrived and no i’m not going to talk about another VCU upset or UConn getting bounced in the first round, the madness in Chicago is the goalie position for the Blackhawks. Neither of the goalies has established themselves as the clear #1 when given the opportunity, and Coach Quenville’s patience for the position is very very thin.

The Case for Crawford

Corey Crawford entered the season as the starting goaltender after a very good 2010-2011 season.  Last season he was 33-18-6 with a ,917 save percentage and giving up 2.30 goals per game.  During the Vancouver series his stats improved even more (except w/l) with a ,927 s% and 2.21 GAA.  Expectation coming into this year where high, if not this was a postition that the Hawks were not going to have to worry about on a daily basis.  One thing that has been re-occuring during the Quenville regime is the revolving door at goalie, and whomever starts the season as the #1 usually finds themselves watching most games at the end of the season.  Niemi replaced Huet, Crawford replaced Turco.  This year’s Crawford has found himself being replaced by Emery a lot.

This season’s stats for Crawford have back slidden 23-16-5 .901 save percentage and 2.89 gaa.  Both the save percentage and goals against rank 41,40th respectively in the NHL this season.  The defense has been very poor at times, and suspect at best most of the time this season giving up countless odd number breaks to opposing teams.  While some of the goals can be explained this way,  quite a few goals against Crawford have been simply out of postion.  Crawford have been very inconsistent giving up 4 or more goals 13 times this season while giving up 1 just 9 times and has not recorded a shut out this season.  Five times this season he’s had a one goal night only to follow it up by giving up 4 or more goals the next.  Confidence seems to be missing at times in his game.

The Case for Ray Emery

Ray Emery was brought in this season for the sole purpose of backing up Crawford, and not to be a #1 for this season.  Ray stats for the season are 15-9-3 with a .903 save% and a 2.73 GAA. These stats rank 37 and 31 in the NHL.  He did have the best streak of the season in December of either goalie going 6-1-1.

He’s only had 3 games this season giving up 4 or more goals.  He’s not spectacular but he stops all the pucks he suppose to stop and most of the time he’s in the right position. Emery has played in 36 playoff games.  30 with the Ottawa Senators and 6 last season with the  Anaheim Ducks. The very telling stat with Ray is that his stats get worse during the playoffs compared to that season stats.  He has a career .907 regular season Save% with a career playoff save perecentage of .903

The Choice

The choice should not be in question with 11 games to go, which is a good reason that the Hawks have very little breathing room in playoff standings.  71 games should have provided a leader at goalie, but it has only offered up more questions.  Ray looked liked he was going to be the #1 the rest of the way until the first period of the Blues game happened.  Crawford came in and stopped the rest of the shots.  Is this the Crawford that can regain 2010-2011 form and lead the Hawks?  One thing from looking at the past is this,  Emery may be able to get the Hawks into the playoffs, but I believe his talents are average and will not be able to lead them very far into the playoffs ( even though i thought Q should have been playing him more earlier this season) Crawford has the talent and very small track record that he excels come playoff time and could be the backstop that can get hot and go deep into the playoffs.

The next chapter of this debate begins tonight in Dallas. The Hawks need at least a point if not two.  Crawford should get the start, and he needs a good effort tonight so the goalie Madness can finally stop!

Lets’ go Hawks!!!