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Ray Emery gets start; Corey Crawford gets coaching

Corey Crawford allowing goal Raffi Torres Monday was pulled after giving up three goals. The Blackhawks rallied but lost shootout.

Corey Crawford, allowing a goal to Raffi Torres on Monday, was pulled after giving up three goals. The Blackhawks rallied but lost in a shootout. | AP

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at Islanders

The facts: 6, CSN, 720-AM.

Updated: January 9, 2012 9:25AM

Corey Crawford won’t lie about his struggles or frustrations. The Blackhawks’ No. 1 goalie knows he can be much better, and he’s doing his best to get a grip on it all.

“Yeah, it’s bothering me,” Crawford said Wednesday before the Hawks left for their game Thursday against the New York Islanders.

Ray Emery will start in Crawford’s place, but it’s too early to declare a full-blown goalie controversy. While there were concerns of a potential sophomore slump entering the season, Crawford isn’t your typical second-year player.

Crawford, 26, has dealt with the unremitting disappointment of being cut training camp after training camp as the Hawks continued to bring in new goalies. He handled everything well, toiling away in the minors before winning the No. 1 job last season and earning a three-year deal. So there is evidence to believe he can turn things around, despite his 3.00 goals-against average and .896 save percentage

“I don’t like losing. I don’t like getting pulled. It’s frustrating,” said Crawford, who was chased by the Phoenix Coyotes on Monday. “But the worst thing I can do is to start thinking about it too much and start putting everything on my shoulders. I just have to keep doing what I’ve been doing pretty much my whole career.

“It seems like it’s just been up and down. Every second game seems to be a rough one for me. I’m just trying to work hard and battle through it. That’s the only way I see getting out of it.”

With the Hawks not playing again until Sunday against the San Jose Sharks, coach Joel Quenneville said Crawford can use the time to work with goalie coach Stephane Waite and regain some confidence, “whether it’s handling the puck, rebound control [or] fighting through traffic.”

“Steph will be working with him the next few days to get that game back where we need it to be,” Quenneville said.

Having a veteran such as Emery at a time like this could prove to be a great insurance policy for the Hawks. Rookie Alexander Salak, whom Emery competed against in the preseason, hasn’t fared too well with the Rockford IceHogs.

“The games [Emery has] played, he’s gotten points in every game but the one game which was our toughest as a team the whole year [a 9-2 loss in Edmonton],” Quenneville said.

The Hawks’ defensive play in front of both goalies has been lacking, and Quenneville reiterated Wednesday “that it has to be better.” But Crawford said that “no team is perfect” and that he still has to make stops. He also has been a victim of some odd goals, whether it’s fluky deflections or long bouncing shots.

“Everyone gets those kind of goals scored on them,” Crawford said. “I’m not looking at it like I’m the only one that’s getting bad luck.”

Technically speaking, Crawford thinks his game has been “pretty fine.” The biggest difference to him is that he’s not making the big saves he once did.

“I’m still confident. I still think I can do the job,” Crawford said. “I’m not worried.”

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