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No shame in backup role for Blackhawks’ Ray Emery

The Sharks’ Logan Couture fails get one past Hawks goalie Corey Crawford first period. | Nam Y. Huh~AP

The Sharks’ Logan Couture fails to get one past Hawks goalie Corey Crawford in the first period. | Nam Y. Huh~AP

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Updated: February 17, 2012 8:21AM



Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford didn’t like that San Jose Sharks forward Logan Couture was still standing over him when he had the puck covered and play was whistled dead early in the first period Sunday night at the United Center.

So Crawford used his stick to send Couture’s flying out of his hands — a forceful statement that the Hawks’ net belongs to him.

The same force isn’t needed, but the Hawks’ other goalie, Ray Emery, understands that, too.

Crawford got starts on consecutive days for the third time this season — the first time a Hawks goalie did it since Emery was carrying the Hawks for six starts in a row in
December.

‘‘I know my role here,’’ Emery said recently. ‘‘I always want to get in there, but at the same time, my long-term goal for the season is to stay healthy and be available when they need me to play.’’

That may be around 10 times, if Crawford continues to perform well. Emery’s strong play in December helped the Hawks in the standings and allowed Crawford to settle down and refocus.

‘‘I’ve always known I can play,’’ said Emery, who’s 10-3-2 this season with a 2.67 goals-against average and .907 save percentage. ‘‘I don’t think I have to prove to anybody anything.’’

And he knows how important it was to give Crawford a break.

‘‘Obviously, teams can get by with one guy who plays the majority of the time,’’ Emery said. ‘‘But I think more often than not, it’s beneficial to have the opportunity to give your main guy some nights off, at least when he needs them, and to have a guy who’s played his ideal number of games going into the postseason or going into the stretch run of the year.’’



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