The 2013 Stanley Cup Final continued Wednesday, June 19, as the Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Boston Bruins, 6-5, in an overtime thriller. The offense was at a premium, and the Blackhawks controlled the pace of this game, which has some believing that all is well in Chicago.
The truth of the matter is, it's about time that the Blackhawks make a change at goaltender—they need to start Ray Emery.
It's beyond unorthodox to switch to a new goaltender this deep into the postseason, but that doesn't make the move unwise. While Crawford's postseason totals may be elite, the numbers are misleading in this instance.
Crawford has allowed at least three goals in three of his past five games and cannot seem to protect his glove side against Boston's attack.
A concerning sign for a Blackhawks team that is attempting to find any light of day against Tuukka Rask and the Bruins.
Crawford has held his own, and he did win this past game, but his weakness is glaring, and the Bruins are attacking his glove side time after time. While conventional wisdom would say that Chicago should trust its goaltender, it's in a rare position.
Its backup goaltender was one of the best players of the 2012-13 NHL season.
Emery's Extraordinary Success
During the 2012-13 NHL regular season, Emery was virtually unbeatable. While some might be labeled in such a manner with a form of hyperbolic praise, Emery actually has a genuine reason.
Emery was 17-1-0, thus boasting the best win percentage of any player with at least 20 appearances.
Emery wasn't just a winner—he was dominant—ranking second in the NHL with a goals against average of 1.94. Emery was also 10th in save percentage at .922, pitching three shutouts in 19 games started.
While Crawford was equally as dominant, the point here is simple—with Crawford struggling, bringing in a goalie of equal ability is of minimal risk.
If the Blackhawks opt to keep Crawford in goal, they place their season in the hands of a goaltender that cannot flash his glove. If Chicago is to go with Emery, however, it sends a spark of energy throughout the squad that suggests that no one is safe—not even after a victory.
Past Postseason Success
There is a legitimate chance that bringing in Emery would backfire, as he hasn't played since Apr. 24. There's an equal possibility that the 30-year-old steps in and falters under the bright lights of the Stanley Cup Final.
With that being said, this wouldn't be Emery's first rodeo.
Emery led the Ottawa Senators to the 2007 Stanley Cup Final, starting 20 games in that time. He posted a goals against average of 2.26 and pitched three shutouts as Ottawa stunned the world by running through the competition.
What's the harm in taking a gamble on taking a chance on a repeat performance?
There may be six years between the current series and his previous appearance, but Emery has never played as well as he currently is in Chicago. From his ability to shut down high-octane offenses to his significantly improved fundamentals, Emery has been dominant.
It's time to see if he can step up at home—even if it means pulling Crawford in the middle of this series.