Chicago Blackhawks: Does the Team Have the Goaltending to Make a Cup Run?

Steve SilvermanFeatured ColumnistDecember 6, 2012

Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford often struggles.
Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford often struggles.Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

There will be significant pressure on Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville when the lockout comes to an end.

The Blackhawks won the 2010 Stanley Cup by beating the Philadelphia Flyers in six games, but the team has done very little since then.

They have been a one-and-done playoff team each of the last two seasons. They barely made the playoffs by finishing in eighth in 2010-11 and were sixth in the Western Conference last year. They lost to the Vancouver Canucks (2011) and Phoenix Coyotes (2012) in those playoff seasons.

Just making the playoffs is not going to be good enough for the Blackhawks. They have a crew of top-flight players in Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook, and the supporting cast is workable.

But the Blackhawks may not be able to get past the first or second-round because of their goaltending.

General manager Stan Bowman made a cursory bid for Martin Brodeur of the New Jersey Devils (source:, but that was not considered a serious effort.

The Blackhawks have also been in the periphery when the subject is the acquisition of Roberto Luongo (source: Chicago Tribune), but they are not expected to make a serious pitch when the lockout ends and hockey is played seriously once again.

That means the Blackhawks are going to try to go after the Stanley Cup with Corey Crawford and Ray Emery in goal.

Crawford was handed the No. 1 job in 2010-11 when the Blackhawks decided not to re-sign Stanley Cup winning goalie Antti Niemi and he was allowed to sign with the San Jose Sharks.

Crawford was a career minor leaguer who had earned a shot at making an NHL roster and had played well when he got his opportunity.

But does that mean he's a goalie capable of making a deep run in the playoffs? Could Emery step in and do the job for a long stretch if Crawford got hurt or went into a slump?

If Bowman really thinks the answer to either of those questions is yes, he is basically alone in his beliefs.

Crawford had a 2.30 goals against average and a .917 save percentage in 2010-11. However, he slumped to 2.72 and .903 last year.

Crawford is clearly an overachiever who overcame his minor league label to win a starting job. However, by the end of last season, it seemed like he believed his critics who thought he was just an average goaltender.

Emery had a significant piece of the Blackhawks' action last year and he finished the season with a 2.81 GAA and a .900 save percentage.

Emery is a battle who will make some spectacular saves, but he is not consistent enough to count on at this point in his career.

The Blackhawks have solid front-line talent and the supporting cast is decent.

However, the goaltending does not appear worthy of helping Chicago make another run at Lord Stanley's finest piece of hardware.