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Blackhawks can’t pin down a goalie for stretch run

Corey Crawford stops David Perrshootout seal Hawks’ victory Tuesday. | Scott Stewart~Sun-Times

Corey Crawford stops David Perron in the shootout to seal the Hawks’ victory Tuesday. | Scott Stewart~Sun-Times

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Updated: April 16, 2012 8:25AM

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville says he likes having to make tough choices with his roster, but he probably wishes that didn’t apply to his goalies for the third year in a row.

With 11 games left, though, the Hawks still don’t know whether they’ll go with Corey Crawford or Ray Emery for the rest of the season and the playoffs.

“We’ve always been confident in both goalies,” Quenneville said. “That’s where we’re at.”

It’s not unheard of for teams to rely on two goalies in the playoffs. The Philadelphia Flyers reached the Stanley Cup finals against the Hawks two years ago by using Michael Leighton and Brian Boucher.

That’s not the preferred route. The Flyers signed Ilya Bryzgalov to a lucrative deal to resolve their issues.

It appeared Emery had the No. 1 job with six consecutive starts. But Crawford — who received a three-year deal in the offseason to be the No. 1 goalie — played hero Tuesday against the St. Louis Blues in a 4-3 shootout victory. If Quenneville has a preference, he isn’t showing his hand.

“We’re in the win-today mode,” Quenneville said. “We’re not looking too far in advance.”

There are plenty of things Quenneville and goalie coach Stephane Waite will look at when choosing the starter, from rebound control to positioning to how the team responds to both goalies.

They will analyze how Crawford (23-16-5, .901 save percentage, 2.89 goals-against average) responds after getting scored on and how quickly he gets back in position. They will scrutinize how Emery (15-9-3, .903, 2.73) handles moving from side to side, which teams have made him do since his hip surgery.

After Emery allowed three goals on six shots in the first period Tuesday, Crawford entered and “responded the way we were hoping he’d respond,” Quenneville said. “That’s good for him and great for us.”

Asked repeatedly about his psyche and personal satisfaction, Crawford fought off questions as though he were fighting off pucks. His confidence has been questioned often this season.

“It felt good personally,” Crawford said of his first victory since Feb. 21. “I’m still confident. I didn’t lose confidence. To get back in there and to get a win like that right away, you can definitely build off that one.”

Crawford probably earned himself the start Friday against the Dallas Stars. But he was chased in his last two, allowing three goals on 10 shots against the Maple Leafs on Feb. 29 and four on 10 against the Los Angeles Kings on Feb. 25.

“I was still pretty confident even after [those] last two starts,” Crawford said. “It’s just a matter of sticking with it and getting that consistency back, pretty much like I’ve been saying all year. Just keep the focus. Our team is playing well, so just give us a chance to win. That’s all I need to do.”

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