Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville would love to be able to settle on a cornerstone goaltender and ride him without worry.
But circumstances have prevented that. During Chicago’s Stanley Cup run, Antti Niemi tagged in for Cristobal Huet and led the Blackhawks to glory.
Oddly, the team allowed Niemi to walk as a free agent. When veteran Marty Turco flopped in the Windy City, Corey Crawford had to bail him out.
Now the well-traveled Ray Emery has supplanted Crawford during the final quarter of this season.
Coach Q has no explanation for the goaltending instability. “It's very unusual,” he told reporters after Chicago won 2-1 at Detroit. “Once is probably plenty, twice is a lot and three is unusual. I just think it's all coincidental and it's the way it seems to be working.”
Emery earned three consecutive victories, allowing just one goal in each outing. His season numbers suddenly look much better: 14-8-2 with a 2.58 goals-against average and .909 save percentage.
“He’s been real good for us,” Quenneville said. “The defense [and] the whole team game are comfortable as well. He’s square. His rebound control has been very efficient.”
Emery finished well last season in Anaheim, reviving his career by going 7-2-0 with great ratios (2.28, .926) as an emergency fill-in. So the veteran knows the drill.