Tag: Alexander Salak

Josh Green, Ray Emery

Ray Emery wins his Blackhawks debut


After making the Chicago’s roster on a professional tryout in training camp, Ray Emery made the most of his first start with the Blackhawks en route to a 4-3 win in front of a sold-out United Center crowd.  The win helped the Blackhawks improve to 2-1 on the young season; while dropping the visiting Winnipeg Jets to 0-2.

Things didn’t exactly start off on the right foot for the Hamilton, ON native. The Jets jumped out to a 2-0 lead as they scored two quick goals in the first eight minutes on Emery. But the team settled down and had four straight goals that led to Emery’s first win in a Blackhawks’ sweater. By the end of the night, Emery has stopped 27 of 30 shots against Winnipeg and held off the pressing Jets as they tried to tie the score in the waning minutes.

Joel Quenneville liked what he saw from his new goaltender in his first start:

“He was rock solid in the third and it was a great test to see how he responded to some dangerous opportunities.”

It certainly helps having the star-studded Blackhawk forwards in front of him to bail the team out of the 2-0 hole. Patrick Kane continued his evolution into an NHL center with a goal and a pair of assists, Marian Hossa chipped in a goal and an assist as he skated on Kane’s wing, and Andrew Brunette scored his second goal of the season with his new team. Primetime performers like that have a way of making a .900 save percentage and 3.00 goals against average look a little better. Besides, the only statistic that matters at the end of the night: one win.

Emery knows that he’ll need to keep his foot on the gas if he wants to solidify his spot on the Blackhawks for the rest of the season. Corey Crawford looks like he’ll be the starter for the rest of the season, meaning Emery will be fighting with Alexander Salak for the rest of the season for the right to wear a baseball hat on the bench in Chicago. Emery got a little more good news earlier in the day when Salak was assigned to Rockford in the AHL before the game.

It’s a great story to see Emery’s success early in the season. He was a finalist for the Masterton Trophy for “exemplifying the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey” last season after coming back from a career threatening hip injury. For people who are root for the good human interest story, look no further than Emery for a guy who is thriving in the face of some pretty long odds.

Still, if he falters, he could be replaced by the promising Salak faster than you can say “Marty Turco.” Our advice to Emery: just keep winning. It’s hard to waive an undefeated goaltender.

So just which goalie is hurting in Chicago?

Corey Crawford

While the Blackhawks are gearing up for the next game tomorrow against Winnipeg, we’ve seen Corey Crawford get a maintenance day recently (although Joel Quenneville says he’ll be fine) and today it was Ray Emery who didn’t see any action in practice while Crawford was back at it. Making things more interesting, the Blackhawks called up Alexander Salak from the AHL, but whose spot is he potentially taking?

The Blackhawks’ competition for the backup job during training camp turned into a good one for the organization because now they’ve got three goalies that can get worked into a game without issue. The injury problem here, however, is the primary concern.

If it’s Crawford and his wonky groin, that’s a big problem for Chicago as they’re banking on Crawford to be their go-to guy in goal. If it’s Emery, that’s a softer blow to absorb given Emery’s past injury issues means that any team keeping him on board now has to have someone competent in the pipeline behind him. Salak, while young, is capable of handling the backup job in Chicago if needed.

Still, this isn’t the kind of issue Quenneville wants to have come up at all. If Crawford’s groin turns into a bigger issue, an Emery-Salak pairing puts the Blackhawks in a tough spot.

And Chicago’s backup goalie this year will be…

Ray Emery

Ray Emery headed into Chicago’s training camp this year on a tryout basis hoping to show that his bounce back from a nearly career-ending hip injury last year with Anaheim wasn’t just a fluke.

Mission: Accomplished.

Emery signed a one-year, one-way $600,000 deal with Chicago this afternoon locking him in to be the backup goalie for Corey Crawford in the Windy City. Emery’s competitor for the job in camp, young prospect Alexander Salak, was sent down to AHL Rockford to become the IceHogs starting goalie and wait things out in case either Crawford or Emery gets hurt.

While Salak put up better numbers than Emery during the preseason, GM Stan Bowman and coach Joel Quenneville are erring on the side of caution and going with the veteran over the rookie. It’s a move that makes perfectly logical sense as Salak could use a lot more game action in North America after playing abroad last year. Salak does have a year of AHL experience under his belt, but just two games in the NHL. Advantage, Emery.

Emery’s comeback from a degenerative hip condition that threatened to end his career is inspiring. Here’s to hoping good things continue to come out of this for him in Chicago.