Stop us if you’ve heard this one before, but the Blackhawks are switching things up in net again.
The Chicago Tribune reports Ray Emery will get the start on Friday against Ottawa, this after replacing starter Corey Crawford in back-to-back contests. On Saturday, Emery came in after Crawford gave up four goals on 10 shots against L.A. and on Wednesday, Emery again relived Crawford after he allowed three goals in the opening 20 minutes against Toronto.
While Emery would likely have gotten Friday’s Sens game anyway — it’s something of a homecoming/revenge affair for him, playing against the team he backstopped to the Stanley Cup finals in 2007 — it’s possible he’s also getting a shot at Chicago’s No. 1 gig.
Simply put, Crawford is rattled. He’s allowed seven goals on his last 20 shots and sounds like a guy with a lot of questions and not many answers.
“It’s a tough time right now, where I can’t even finish a game,” he told NHL.com. “I battled hard in practice today [Thursday] and I just got to keep working hard and stay focused. I don’t want it to get worse than it is right now.”
“I’ve never been through this since I started playing goalie. I’ve gone on streaks where they’re a little bit tougher, but to be up and down this drastically…I’m trying to find answers.”
Head coach Joel Quenneville has protected Crawford throughout the season but, with less than 20 games left until playoffs, realizations are setting in.
Chief among them is that since the league has now seen him extensively, Crawford’s tendencies may be getting exploited.
“Every goalie … the players might [become] a little bit familiar,” Quenneville said. “They go through their routines and they’re starting to know him, like it goes the other way around.
“It’s part of the learning curve and I know Corey’s like a student with how he approaches the game.”