Chicago Blackhawks: Ray Emery Earned Another Start, but He's Not the Starter

Jon FromiSenior Analyst IDecember 9, 2011

Ray Emery's 31 saves in Chicago's 3-2 win in New York is deserving of another start Sunday.
Ray Emery's 31 saves in Chicago's 3-2 win in New York is deserving of another start Sunday.Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville has gotten some quality play from backup goaltender Ray Emery this week. Quenneville responded to the question of Emery getting the start in net when San Jose comes to town on Sunday with the following quote.

"We'll see," he said to Jesse Rogers of "We have something to consider. He's earned an opportunity to be back in the net. We'll definitely look at it."

Based upon those words, and knowing how Quenneville handles situations like this, I'd say it will be Emery facing the Sharks.

If Quenneville goes by his own book on this one, Emery will stay in net until the 'Hawks lose or Emery turns in a shaky performance. Right now, that's really as it should be.

Emery has stopped 42 of 44 shots since relieving Crawford a minute into the second period Monday night. Crawford hadn't played awful, but Quenneville was trying to jolt his team out of a 3-0 hole.

It worked.

Chicago rallied to pick up a point from the Coyotes, then pulled out a 3-2 overtime win in Long Island Thursday behind the scoring of Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp. Emery allowed two goals on 33 Islander shots.

Crawford watched the game from a seat outside the bench area. That was due to the size of the bench in Nassau Coliseum and not a hint from management. Besides, Crawford has probably already seen the writing on the wall in terms of picking up his play.

Whether it's poor defense in front of him or the league picking up on holes in his game, Crawford is going to have to make adjustments. It happens when opponents catch up to a young goaltender.

Crawford will surely get the chance to get back on track. After all, Quenneville has given his incumbent goalies every chance to hold on to the starter's role.

The fact that Crawford is a home-grown product, coupled with the commitment made to him by the 'Hawks for the next three seasons, should give him the leverage he needs.

Emery will be starting at this point, but Crawford is still Quenneville's starter.