Chicago Blackhawks: Why Ray Emery Deserves to Be the Starting Goaltender

Nicole Blum@@nblumNHLContributor IIIApril 6, 2013

Ray Emery continues to show his dominance in net with a 13-1-0 record.
Ray Emery continues to show his dominance in net with a 13-1-0 record.Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Ray Emery has played 14 games for the Chicago Blackhawks this season. His record? 13-1-0. His save percentage? 0.923. His goals-against-average? 1.95.

His position on the Blackhawks? Backup goaltender.

For the last few weeks, Emery mostly watched the Blackhawks—more like Corey Crawford—struggle. Crawford's save percentage drastically fell—lower than his backup's. The Hawks were 3-3-1 in their last seven games before Saturday’s game against the Nashville Predators.

I’m not saying that all of these losses were due to Crawford’s play. In fact, Emery earned one of those losses when the Hawks fell to Anaheim 2-1. But it’s hard to deny that Crawford’s goaltending, once the backbone of the Blackhawks, now looks flat.

Corey Crawford lacks the puck control he possessed at the beginning of the season. He is more hesitant to leave his net, and the confidence he exuded earlier in the year is missing.

Games where the Hawks dominate the majority of the play are now closer than they should be when Crawford is in net. 

Just look at the Nashville Predators game from Monday where the Quebec native allowed two soft goals in the third period, forcing the Hawks to win the game in a shootout.

Emery just shutout the same Nashville team today 1-0. 

It’s consistency that Emery and all starting goaltenders possess. The Blackhawks can rely on Emery in close games and in shootouts, areas where Crawford is a little shaky.

 

Remember Crawford’s performance during the playoffs last year? I almost couldn't during the Blackhawks’ record start. Now, however, it’s easy to recall. His lackluster form almost matches that of the 2012 playoffs.

To make it clear, I’m not trying to bash Crawford. Nor am I egging on another another goalie war in Chicago. 

But, controversy aside, Emery deserves the chance to be the No. 1 goaltender for the Blackhawks.

After all, shouldn't the goalie with the better numbers be the starter?