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Blackhawks backups Emery, Salak pay homage to Crawford

Corey Crawford makes point-blank save Capitals’ Alex OvechkHawks’ preseaswFriday. | Scott Stewart~Sun-Times

Corey Crawford makes a point-blank save on the Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin in the Hawks’ preseason win Friday. | Scott Stewart~Sun-Times

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Updated: November 11, 2011 1:34PM

The fight for the backup goalie job between Ray Emery and Alexander Salak has gotten more attention than starter Corey Crawford, and rightfully so.

But those in that fight have taken notice of Crawford, whom coach Joel Quenneville described as “excellent” in his first preseason start Friday, a 3-2 victory against the Washington Capitals.

“I knew he had a good year last year but didn’t know what his game was about,” Emery said. “Skating with him, he’s very good technically and makes things look pretty. He makes the save over and over again and just gets in front of the puck, using his big body. He’s good at reading plays.

“I was kind of joking with him that it seems unfair how easy he makes it look because I know it’s not. It’s great watching a guy who’s got things figured out as well as he does.”

The entire training-camp process has been an eye-opening experience for Salak. But whether it’s in scrimmages or practices, he has had his eye on Crawford.

“He’s an amazing guy, and it’s tough to beat him,” Salak said. “Every goalie is a little bit different, and everyone understands the game a little different. We just both try to go our way.”

Crawford made 24 saves against the Capitals, who dressed star Alex Oveckhin and other regulars, in his first preseason game. The Hawks’ plan was to get Crawford three full starts, so there aren’t many chances left for Emery and Salak.

“If I’m playing against a guy, I don’t really want to check his game too much,” Emery said of going against Salak. “You’ve got to focus on what you’re doing. But through practicing with the guy, especially goalie stuff, you see that a guy is really good at a certain movement or a certain save. I definitely check it out.”

Making the cut

The Hawks trimmed their roster to 38 on Saturday, sending forward Rob Flick, defenseman Brian Fahey and goaltender Alec Richards to the Rockford IceHogs.

The cuts came a day after 11 others were sent to Rockford: forwards Brandon Bollig, Chris DiDomenico, Byron Froese, David Gilbert, Andrew Shaw, David Toews and Paul Zanette and defensemen Simon Danis-Pepin, Shawn Lalonde, Ryan Stanton and Ben Youds.

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