Backup goalie Ray Emery not dwelling on injury, what-ifs
BY MARK LAZERUS email@example.com May 12, 2013 11:00PM
Updated: May 13, 2013 7:41PM
There never really was a true goalie controversy with the Blackhawks this season. As well as Ray Emery played, racking up a 17-1 record with a 1.94 goals-against average, Corey Crawford matched him big game for big game and big save for big save and never relinquished the No. 1 job.
But coach Joel Quenneville never officially anointed Crawford his playoff goalie. He always said circumstances would dictate his decision. And the circumstance of Emery’s lower-body injury, which limited him to just 14 minutes after April 15, made the decision easy.
Now that Emery is expected back in uniform as Crawford’s backup for Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals, he’s not spending his time wondering, ‘‘What if?’’
‘‘I never want to get hurt,’’ Emery said. ‘‘But there’s not much you can do about it. The team’s in a great position. It’s not like I really missed anything; we just kept sailing on. Hopefully, I can play whatever role the team needs me for in the future.’’
The truth is, Emery might have played his last game for the Hawks. After allowing only seven goals in five games in the first-round series against the Minnesota Wild, Crawford has a stranglehold on the net. And as an unrestricted free agent this summer coming off a spectacular season, Emery might command more money than the Hawks are willing to spend on a backup, particularly with the
salary cap shrinking from $70.2 million to $64.3 million next season.
As for the immediate future, Emery is a heck of a safety net for Crawford. The two are close, and Emery was thrilled that Crawford proved his doubters wrong and won his first playoff series.
‘‘I thought he really kind of took charge in that series, and I think it could have been a lot different a few games,’’ Emery said. ‘‘The guys gain confidence when he plays big games like that, and you know it makes it that much more daunting for a team coming in to play against us. I think it was a great series for the boys — and Crow, especially.’’
The Hawks had one of their most spirited practices of the season Saturday in between days off Friday and Sunday. They return to practice at Johnny’s IceHouse West on Monday before starting their next series against the Detroit Red Wings. They’re trying to walk the fine line between staying sharp and resting up.
‘‘It’s about staying focused, preparing mentally and physically,’’ winger Patrick Sharp said. ‘‘It’s easy, with time off, to kick your feet up and watch other games and feel like you’re ready to play. But you want to stay ready to go at all times.’’