It can’t come as a shock that Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville is considering starting Ray Emery in net for Game 5 on Saturday night against the Phoenix Coyotes as his team faces elimination down 3-1.
After back-to-back soft goals given up in overtime, a change might be in order. It might come just to shake things up or because Corey Crawford’s confidence is very low. Or maybe Quenneville sees the impact it could have on the team in front of Crawford. Once a defense is afraid to make a mistake for fear the puck will end up in the back of its net, that’s exactly when those mistakes start to multiply.
“We're talking about that,” is all Quenneville would say Friday when asked about who would be in net. "Don't foresee any announcements.”
And that’s all he wanted to discuss regarding his goaltending situation. It’s pretty clear how he feels considering he keeps referring to the last two games as “brutal endings.”
Crawford defenders can always make a case he should stay in net. Of course he hasn’t been downright awful throughout the series. That’s obvious. But he faced just 19 shots in Game 4, in an overtime game no less, and three got by him. Not once but twice he’s given up the weakest of goals to end games.
We’re not talking about a 10-year veteran with multiple rings coming off an All-Star season. He has the right to be replaced and that’s exactly what Quenneville should do.
The Hawks are down 3-1 and not surprisingly many were asked if the experience of a year ago can help them. Down 3-0 to Vancouver they won three in a row and almost won the series. They need three in a row again.
“You have to draw on everything you can,” Duncan Keith said. “And that’s one of them. The experience we’ve had in other series. We have to be a desperate team, we are a desperate team. It needs to be our best game of the year.”
That was the theme before the team took off for Phoenix and Game 5 on Saturday. It has to be their best game and then 6 and 7 have to be even better. But one game at a time.
“Our backs are against the wall,” Patrick Sharp said. “We need to find a way to play our best game in Game 5 and prepare for that.”
The one man who can lead them out of this mess is of course the captain. Jonathan Toews has never given in and he isn’t about to now. They have a long plane ride and 24 more hours to figure things out. What will he say?
“That stays in the locker room,” Toews said. “There are always things being said trying to keep the positive energy in that locker room. The only thing that really matters is what is said and done inside that locker room not what anyone says about us. No one thinks we’re going to win this series. Who cares? It’s all up to us.”
“He's been on the ice for some goals that you might look at but Nick's been ok,” Quenneville said. “That pair can be better."
His partner, Johnny Oduya, had his pocket picked on the Coyotes first goal of the night.
“It’s win or go home. I believe in our group. We believe we can win,” -- Patrick Sharp.
“That’s kind of our theme. We need more pucks. The high quality shot isn’t going to be there. We have to get some ugly goals,” -- Joel Quenneville.
“As a captain you get a lot of credit when things are going well for your team but you’re going to be the guy right in the middle of it when things are going south.”—Jonathan Toews