Chicago Blackhawks: Corey Crawford's Rebound Provides Options Between the Pipes

Jon FromiSenior Analyst IDecember 27, 2011

Corey Crawford stopped 37 shots in a 4-1 win over Columbus. The Blackhawks have gotten good play from both goalies recently.
Corey Crawford stopped 37 shots in a 4-1 win over Columbus. The Blackhawks have gotten good play from both goalies recently.Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Chicago Blackhawks are in an enviable position in terms of their situation in goal right now.

Look no further than the train wreck in net in Columbus for proof that the going is good between the pipes in the Windy City.

The 'Hawks beat Steve Mason four times in their 4-1 victory at the United Center as Corey Crawford turned away 37 Blue Jackets shots. Crawford's effort comes off a solid start Wednesday against Montreal, in which he also allowed just a single goal.

In his last two starts, Crawford has gotten his goals-against average under three (2.83) and his save percentage over .900 (.902). Coach Joel Quenneville now has a pair of netminders playing well and capable of holding down the crease for an extended stretch.

Teams usually salivate when they get a shot at a backup in net. For the 'Hawks, that happened when Columbus decided to start Mason over backup Curtis Sanford, who has put up respectable numbers in a dismal season for the Blue Jackets.

Chicago has the momentary luxury of two goalies playing with confidence. Crawford getting back in the groove makes for some interesting choices for Quenneville this week.

For starters, who gets the call Wednesday when the Kings come to town? What about Friday's showdown with Detroit?

Quenneville has maintained that Crawford is still his starter, despite some less-than-stellar games earlier this month. He also has no problem inserting Ray Emery into the crease.

Emery currently carries a 2.54 goals-against average and a .908 save percentage. He went 6-1 in his last seven starts.

Quenneville could use Emery with more frequency in the attempt to keep both goalies fresh as the season progresses. It's certainly not a stretch to think that Emery could wind up starting 25-30 games this season if he continues to win at a pace near his 9-2-2 record.

Quenneville has shown a tendency to ride the hot hand, which may mean Crawford is back in net Wednesday and until he loses. He could also start Emery against Los Angeles and keep both players on their toes.

The 'Hawks have two back-to-backs coming up in January, so Emery can be expected to get some work in at least a few games in the next couple of weeks. It all depends on how Quenneville elects to play it.

For the moment, at least, he can't make a poor choice.