Blackhawks Fan Reaction: The Art Of Goaltending

By Joe Kremel

Here We Admire Two Top Level NHL Goalies, The Painting Is Called “Controversy”. Image Created By Joe Kremel, pictures used: by Nick Ulivieri and From Chatter Box Blog

The word around town in Chicago is that we have a goalie controversy.  Emery starts tonight in net against the Wild, which will mark his third straight start.  Fans seem fairly split in their preferred goalie, and whether its Emery or Crawford, we shouldn’t be upset with either goalie.  Crow did look a little off his game against the Blues, but you can hardly blame him for every goal. Likewise, you can’t blame Emery for the three goals scored against him in the Nashville game.  A goalie can only do so much by himself, but blame seems to rain down upon them because of the nature of their position.  While hockey is a team sport, we don’t view goaltenders the same way; we see them as a singular unit among a group of teammates.

Now, we can blame Crawford for the Blues game, but honestly there were multiple breakaways and bad turnovers that lead to those opportunities. Alas, we only remember Crow not stopping the shots.  I have also seen Emery being called out for his play, and to be honest, I have trouble pointing the finger at him for two out of the three goals scored against him by the Preds.  When a puck is turned over right in front of you, as a goalie, you can really only react, try stopping the initial shot, and hope for no rebound.  If you can get a piece of it, hopefully your defense, who just turned it over, will clear it out for you since you just bailed them out.  I’m not saying it’s okay for Emery or Crow to just lunge out and expect their defense to deal with it, but they do get some leniency when the team completely lets them down.

I’m definitely not saying that we can’t hold our goalies to a higher standard than last year, because I think we all do.  They have provided us with ample evidence showing that both of them have improved from last season, which leads to raised expectations.  Overall, our goalies have been outstanding statistically and have made some spectacular saves in games that came out of nowhere.  As of this writing, Emery, who will be starting tonight, has a .920 SV% (13th) and a 2.02 GAA (5th), which is pretty ridiculous for your backup.  Crawford currently has .922 SV% (10th) and a 2.01 GAA (4th), which also puts him in the top tier of goalies.  In fact, Chicago is the only team that has two goalies in the top ten for GAA, and is one of only two teams to have two goalies in the top 15 for SV%. Goalie controversy?  Well this is what I say to that: I would rather have two starters to rely on than two backups.  Worst case scenario, Crow loses a mental edge in a game and Emery comes into support his teammate and his team.  Isn’t that pretty much what hockey is all about?  So let’s cheer for whoever is in net, and try not to worry too much about which goalie is starting, because both of them have earned it.