Chicago Blackhawks: Ray Emery
The Chicago Blackhawks couldn’t have jammed much more into one calendar year as they did in 2013
From the NHL lockout ending to a NHL-record 24-game points streak to winning the Stanley Cup in dramatic fashion to having an estimated one million people at their Grant Park rally to a shortened offseason to again being atop the league in points entering 2014, the Blackhawks saw and did it all in 2013. Even their worst moments weren't all that bad and were often followed by their best moments.
It is certainly a year that will be forever remembered by the franchise and its fans.
BEST MOMENTS5. Emery, Hossa steal points in Calgary: The Blackhawks’ record-breaking points streak would have come to an end in the ninth game of the 2013 season if it wasn’t for a career performance by goaltender Ray Emery and late heroics by Marian Hossa. The Blackhawks were outshot 47-19 by the Calgary Flames, but remained in the game thanks to Emery’s 45 saves. Despite that, the Blackhawks still appeared to be headed to a 2-1 defeat. With Emery pulled in the final minute of the third period, Hossa came through and scored with 2.3 seconds remaining and forced overtime. Patrick Kane scored the lone shootout goal, and Emery made three shootout saves for the victory.
3. Best start in NHL history: The Blackhawks set the NHL’s record for best start in a season by registering a point in the first 24 games of the 2013 season. The previous record was 16 games by the 2006-07 Anaheim Ducks. The Blackhawks went 21-0-3 during their record start. Their first loss came in Game 25 against the Colorado Avalanche on March 8. The Blackhawks played in 16 one-goal games during the 24 games.
2. Blackhawks rally back against Red Wings: The Blackhawks dropped three consecutive games to the Red Wings and fell behind 3-1 in the Western Conference semifinals. The Blackhawks won Game 5 by a 4-1 score behind two goals by Andrew Shaw in Chicago. They were facing a 2-1 deficit after two periods in Game 6 in Detroit and fought back to win 4-2. Game 7 was thought to be one of the biggest games in the history of the teams’ rivalry, and it lived up to the hype. Patrick Sharp gave the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead in the second period, and Henrik Zetterberg tied the game early into the third period. The Blackhawks had a controversial goal waved off in the third period, and Brent Seabrook provided the game-winner at 3:35 of overtime.
1. The Blackhawks win the Cup again: The Blackhawks won their second Stanley Cup in four years by defeating the Boston Bruins in six games. The series included three overtime games and no game was decided by more than two goals. The Blackhawks clinched Game 6 in dramatic fashion as Bryan Bickell and Dave Bolland scored within 17 seconds of each other in the final 1:16 of the third period and turned a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 victory before a stunned Boston crowd. The Blackhawks celebrated their victory with a parade through Chicago and a rally at Grant Park. An estimated two million people attended the rally.
WORST MOMENTS5. Bieber disrespects the logo: Pop star Justin Bieber angered Blackhawks nation by unwittingly standing on the team’s logo while taking a picture with the Stanley Cup in the team’s dressing room in July. Blackhawks players Brandon Bollig and Shaw light-heartedly scolded Bieber on Twitter. Shaw wrote, “Bro no stepping on the logo @justinbieber that's money on the board! #gutty.” The Blackhawks released a statement saying Bieber apologized for the incident.
4. Toews’ forgettable game: Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews had one of the worst games of his career in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals last season. He was called for three unrelated penalties for the first time in his career and spent six minutes in the box. He was called for hooking once and high-sticking twice. He also had zero points and a minus-one rating in the Blackhawks’ loss.
3. Keith suspended: Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith received one-game suspension for high-sticking the Los Angeles Kings’ Jeff Carter during Game 3 of the Western Conference finals. Keith swung his stick upward and connected with Carter's face while the two were skating behind the play. Carter fell to the ice and required 20 stitches. Keith missed Game 4 and was replaced by Sheldon Brookbank, who was a healthy scratch throughout the playoffs. Brookbank had a minus-two rating in Game 4, but the Blackhawks pulled out a 3-2 win.
2. Q’s doghouse: Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville placed defensemen Brent Seabrook and Nick Leddy and forward Viktor Stalberg in his doghouse at different times during the playoffs. Seabrook played a season-low 12:03 against the Red Wings in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals. Leddy’s ice time was 2:37, 6:53 and 3:25 in the final three games of the Stanley Cup finals. Stalberg was made a healthy scratch in four playoff games.
1. Season on the line: The Blackhawks’ dream of winning another Stanley Cup nearly vanished in the Western Conference semifinals. They dropped three consecutive games, one at home and two on the road, to the Red Wings and put themselves in a 3-1 hole.
The Chicago Blackhawks played in some unforgettable games during 2013. There's still three to go, but here’s a look at the 10 best so far:
No. 10 -- Blackhawks 6, Senators 5, Oct. 29: Nine of the Blackhawks’ top games of 2013 occurred last season, mostly due to the context of the Blackhawks’ playoff run and their points streak. This recent game made the list because it had a bit of everything. The Blackhawks went down 4-2, and Nikolai Khabibulin was relieved by Corey Crawford in the second period. Crawford stopped 14 of 15 shots over the remainder of the game. Jonathan Toews took care of the rest. He scored three consecutive goals and put the Blackhawks ahead 5-4. Toews also had an assist. Andrew Shaw scored two goals, and Marian Hossa tallied his 100th career Blackhawks goal.
No. 9 -- Blackhawks 3, Avalanche 2, March 6: The Blackhawks turned to many different players to contribute during their 24-game points streak. This was Daniel Carcillo's day. Carcillo scored the game-winner with 49.3 seconds left in the third period to defeat the Colorado Avalanche and had one of the season’s more memorable celebrations as he skidded on his knees. The Blackhawks would lose the next game and their record-setting streak ended.
Raanta has now appeared in seven games and made six consecutive starts since Corey Crawford was injured Dec. 8. Over that time, Raanta has been exactly what the Blackhawks hoped: He’s been consistently solid.
Since Crawford’s injury, the Blackhawks have gone 5-1-1, and Raanta has a 2.14 goals-against average and has stopped 174 of 189 shots for a .921 save percentage.
Raanta’s numbers were also affected by the five goals he allowed on 25 shots against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Dec. 14. Aside from that game, he hasn’t given up more than two goals in 11 appearances this season.
Raanta’s consistency can especially be seen in his quality starts, which is an advanced statistic used to judge when a goaltender gives his team a chance to win. A quality start is recorded when a goaltender has a .917 save percentage or higher or has at least a .885 save percentage along with two or fewer goals against. Eight of Raanta’s nine starts this season have been quality starts.
Raanta’s even-strength numbers haven’t been anything special. He’s stopped 190 of 206 shots for a .922 even-strength save percentage, which ranks him 24th in the league among goaltenders with at least 10 appearances. Crawford had been slightly better this season with a .926 even-strength save percentage.
Where Raanta has fared better is against power plays. Raanta has stopped 63 of 70 power-play shots for a .900 save percentage, which ranks 19th in the league. Crawford made 69 saves on 88 power-play shots for a .784 save percentage.
Raanta’s numbers suggest he’s on his way to providing the Blackhawks close to what Ray Emery gave them last season. Emery made 13 quality starts in 19 starts and had an overall .922 save percentage in 21 games last season.
Crawford will undoubtedly step back into the starting role when he returns, which will likely be in early January, but Raanta’s emergence could give Chicago the goaltending depth it is apt to need over the remainder of the season, which will include eight sets of back-to-back games after Jan. 1 and 15 games over the season’s final four weeks.
The change in scenery has done wonders for Bolland. He’s quickly become an impact player for the Maple Leafs on both sides of the ice and has helped them to a 9-4-0 record. He has six goals and four assists in 13 games and has averaged 16:46 of ice time. He failed to produce a point in his Oct. 16 return to the United Center, but he’s since had three goals and one assist in the last four games. He also helped contain Sidney Crosby in the Maple Leafs’ recent 4-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Viktor Stalberg, Nashville Predators, free-agent signing
Stalberg was unhappy with his role with the Blackhawks by the end of last season. He was looking to move on and get a fresh start somewhere else. The Predators saw a lot of upside in Stalberg and signed him to a four-year, $12 million contract. It’s been downhill since then. Stalberg began the season injured. He entered the lineup in mid-October and has since struggled. He has zero points in six games and has been scratched the last two games.
Ray Emery's decision to leave the Hawks for a chance to start with the Flyers has backfired early, as he's struggled in his first couple of games.
Emery chose to leave the Blackhawks -- not because of money, but because he saw an opportunity to start for the Flyers. The Blackhawks are actually paying Nikolai Khabibulin more than what Emery received from the Flyers. Emery’s plan hasn’t worked out for him. He struggled in two early-season starts, allowing four goals in each game. Steve Mason was given an opportunity to start for the Flyers, and he’s running with it. He’s started the Flyers’ last five games and hasn’t allowed more than three goals in any of them. Emery was always a team player with the Blackhawks and appears to be saying the right things again in Philadelphia.
Michael Frolik, Winnipeg Jets, traded for draft picks
While the Blackhawks still search for someone to replace Frolik on the penalty kill, Frolik is looking for consistency with the Jets. Frolik began the season with a bang, as he scored two goals in the first game and had an assist in the second game. Since then, he’s had zero goals and three assists in the last 11 games. He’s averaged 14:07 of ice time, but he’s not often utilized on the penalty kill. He was second among forwards in short-handed ice time for the Blackhawks last season and is just averaging 52 seconds a game on the penalty kill this season. The Blackhawks will face Frolik for the first time this season on Saturday.
Daniel Carcillo, Los Angeles Kings, traded for conditional draft pick
Carcillo was in and out of the Blackhawks’ lineup throughout his stay in Chicago, and it was no surprise he was traded to the Kings. He’s had one goal and one assist and averaged 10:07 of ice time in nine games this season. He’s been in two fights and has 16 penalty minutes and 16 hits. It’s about what’s expected from him.
Carter Hutton, Nashville Predators, free-agent signing
Hutton wasn’t given much of a shot with the Blackhawks. He played just one game with them. He signed a one-year deal with the Predators in the offseason and has already played in four games this season, because Pekka Rinne has been out of the lineup. Hutton has a 2-1-0 record with a 2.42 goals-against average and .927 save percentage. He struggled in the Predators’ last game and was pulled in the third period during a 6-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues.
Ryan Stanton, Vancouver Canucks, waiver claim
Stanton was put on waivers when the Blackhawks decided to keep Michael Kostka as the team’s eighth defensemen. The Canucks claimed Stanton and have put him to use. Stanton has averaged 14:10 of ice time and has had one goal, four assists and a plus-4 rating in 14 games. He had signed a one-year deal with the Blackhawks in the offseason.
ESPNChicago.com's Blackhawks reporter Scott Powers will count down this season's top 50 storylines over the next week leading into training camp.
Here's the first installment:
50. Bollig, the enforcer
The Blackhawks will likely be auditioning for five roster spots during training camp. One of those positions will likely go to Brandon Bollig. Some may argue enforcers aren't really needed on a team, but Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville has often liked to have someone who isn't afraid to drop his gloves and step up for his teammates. With Jamal Mayers and Daniel Carcillo gone, there aren't many of those type of players remaining on the roster. Bollig led the Blackhawks with five fights last season. He will be looking for his first career point this season. He has zero points in 43 career NHL games.
49. Sellout and attendance streak
The Blackhawks are aiming to lead the NHL in attendance for the sixth consecutive season. They have sold out the United Center for 187 consecutive regular-season games dating back to the 2008-09 season. They averaged a paid attendance of 21,775 during their 24 home games last season.
Bowman’s lone moves Friday were signing Nikolai Khabibulin to be a backup goaltender and re-signing forward Michal Handzus and defenseman Michal Rozsival. He also previously re-signed forward Bryan Bickell and defenseman Nick Leddy.
“I’ve always had the philosophy if you’re relying on the free-agent period in July to save your team, it’s probably not the prescription we’re looking for,” Bowman said on Friday night. “Adding a player here and there is certainly understandable. Bryan Bickell, I guess, could fall into that category. We got him signed a week ago leading into this. He’s the only guy you can put into that category for us, the frenzy.
“I think the way to build success and sustain it is through the draft and develop your players and add in the occasional player through free agency. If I had my choice, I would do it the way we’ve done it recently which is develop from within, have your young players emerge over time, don’t rush them to the NHL and really use the draft and the development of your young players as a way to find really good players. Fortunately, we’ve been able to do that. When we find a group that has had success, we can keep it together like we have this summer. That’s the preferred method for us. I think it’s the most prudent way in the salary cap world to sustain success.”
Waite was named the Blackhawks goaltending coach during the 2003-04 season and helped the Blackhawks to two Stanley Cups during his tenure. He was credited by Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville and goaltender Corey Crawford for Crawford’s development this past season.
Crawford and Blackhawks goaltender Ray Emery shared this past season the William M. Jennings Trophy, given to the goaltenders on the team with the fewest goals allowed during the regular season. The Blackhawks allowed 102 goals in 48 regular-season games. Crawford had a 16-7 record with a 1.84 goals-against average and a .932 save percentage during the playoffs.
“We would like to thank Stéphane for his 10 years of service with the Blackhawks organization and the quality of work he put in with many goaltenders over that period of time,” Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said in a statement. “We wish him and his family the best in his new position.”
Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin had plenty of familiarity with Waite before hiring him. Bergevin spent time as a Blackhawks assistant coach and assistant general manager while Waite was with the Blackhawks.
“Stéphane Waite has over 30 years of experience as a goaltending coach, including the past 10 seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks organization,” Bergevin said in a statement. “He contributed to two Stanley Cup championships with the Blackhawks during his tenure working closely with two different goaltenders, namely Antti Niemi and Corey Crawford. We are very pleased to welcome Stéphane in our organization. He has a vast experience, and a thorough knowledge of our local market and we are convinced that our goaltenders will benefit from his expertise and his work ethic.”
Emery is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 5 after spending the last two seasons with the Blackhawks. He made $1.15 million on a one-year deal in 2012-13.
Emery will become an unrestricted free agent on July 5. He made $1.15 million in 2013. He has been with the Blackhawks since 2011.
The Hawks found offensive success by attacking the net more no matter who was on the ice for the Bruins. Jonathan Toews expressed as much in the days after Game 4. Sustaining that at home should be easier to accomplish with the right work ethic considering any match-up concerns now favor the Hawks.
Did they really figure something out against Zdeno Chara or was that a fluke?
“It's not going to be like last game,” Dave Bolland predicted Saturday morning. “He's going to be looking to play a different game, change things around. We're going to have to be aware of him.”
Another key was the Hawks blue-line activating the offense and more importantly being a part of it. Michal Rozsival may have been one of the most important players on the ice as his shots led to two goals, establishing the Hawks lead for most of the night. Skating with the puck and pinching at the right time while helping on offense is a Hawks strength from the back-end. Expect it to continue.
Everyone’s eye will be on Corey Crawford’s glove on his left hand. Were his issues a one game aberration or something that might crop up again? If the worst case scenario happens, and Crawford gives up some early goals, there’s nothing to say Quenneville can’t go to Ray Emery. It’s not as likely of an option for Boston if the same struggles occur to Tuukka Rask because they don’t have a back-up who went 17-1. It’s doubtful Emery gets in there but it’s not a stretch to believe Crawford’s leash became a little shorter after Game 4.
Winning in the circle
Face-offs became an issue after the Hawks lost 71 percent of them in Game 3, but they reversed that trend in Game 4 coming out on top of about half of them. It had a big impact.
“I think it played a part early on in the game,” Quenneville said Saturday morning. “I thought we were much more effective than in the prior game. They got better as the game went on. I just think starting with the puck is key. I think having it against this team is important.”
The proof is in the results. The Hawks played a life-less Game 3 on offense when wining just 29 percent of the draws – and got shutout. Winning 38 of 77 face-offs made a big difference and it’s not a coincidence the Hawks scored more in Game 4, partly because of that improvement.
An X-factor line for Hawks
For a 6-5 final score in Game 3, the Hawks third line of Andrew Shaw, Viktor Stalberg and Brandon Saad had a quiet night. They combined for an even, plus/minus game, with their lone point coming on Saad’s short-handed assist to open the scoring. Collectively, they say they were happy with their defense in an open game but would like to be more noticeable on the offensive end. They combined for three shots on net.
“I like to get those chances,” Stalberg said of a bull rush around a slower defenseman. “The way they play, they play pretty structured. They come back five guys hard. The way to beat them is to keep longer cycles in their end, they have bigger guys that get tired, maybe. Longer puck possessions are key.”
Added Shaw: “Defensively we’ve been pretty good but we do need to create a few more offensive chances going into Game 5 here.”
Most observers felt the playing surface in Game 4 in Boston was better than in Game 3. Coincidentally, or not, the Hawks went from being shutout to scoring six goals. There’s little doubt a smoother surface benefits the speedy Hawks against most opponents – including the Bruins.
“I thought the ice was fine today,” Quenneville said. “It's kind of one of those days with the humidity and it will be a little warmer out there today. But the building and the playoffs have been fine, the ice has been fine. We talked about that going into that game against Detroit with the Stones (Rolling Stones), and I think everybody had no problem with the ice. I think sometimes late in periods you've got to know that it gets a little bit worn out in both buildings, and you've got to be smart in those areas.”
Still, things could be different at game time and a fast surface can only help the Hawks – not hurt them.
Marian Hossa will play and can only be feeling better after two days off the ice. He didn’t take the morning practice on Saturday so he hasn’t been on skates since the end of Game 4 late on Wednesday. Quenneville says he’ll be better in Game 5 as any boost from Hossa is a huge boost for the Hawks.
Blackhawks forward Jonathan Toews just missed out in being a finalist for the Hart Memorial Trophy, which is given to the league's MVP. He finished fourth in the voting with 886 points. New York Islanders forward John Tavares finished third with 919 points. Toews received 39 first-place votes on 179 ballots cast. Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane was sixth in the voting and had 157 points, which included two first-place votes.
Blackhawks rookie forward Brandon Saad finished third in the voting for the Calder Memorial Trophy. He received 730 points, which included 30 first-place votes.
Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith finished sixth in the voting for the James Norris Memorial Trophy. He had 281 points, which included one first-place vote.
Blackhawks goaltender Ray Emery and Corey Crawford both received votes for the Vezina Trophy. Emery finished seventh in the voting with one first-place vote and six points. Crawford was eighth with five points, which included one second-place vote and two third-place votes.
Toews was named the winner of the Frank J. Selke Trophy, given to the best defensive forward, on Friday.
That year, Smith struggled with Tampa during the regular season with an .899 save percentage and 2.90 goals-against average but for the Coyotes, that didn't matter. They knew what they were getting and a down year only meant he came cheaper.
Then came the playoffs.
The Lightning made an unexpected run to the Eastern Conference finals and Smith started getting playoff time spelling starter Dwayne Roloson that showed his confidence was back and just how good he could play in pressure situations. That postseason, Smith played three games, with a save percentage of .958. He allowed just two goals on 48 shots.
The Coyotes started to fear that Smith's playoff success might earn him more playing time and drive his asking price too high for their budget. That never happened and they signed him to a very reasonable two-year deal that is set to expire this summer.
But the playoffs can completely change the perception of a goalie and what he can demand in his next contract. It can also change how a team approaches their goaltending situation the following summer.
And two goalie situations playing out in the postseason for Pittsburgh and Chicago could help shape an interesting summer goalie market.
When Marc-Andre Fleury struggled to start the playoffs for the Penguins, Tomas Vokoun came in and steadied the ship in round 1. He's been a calming veteran presence and is a big reason the Penguins' game has settled. It's also raised questions about Fleury's future with the Penguins.
Read the entire story here.
He thinks the Red Wings also deserved recognition for what they did do.
“I just think it’s a good team over there,” Sharp said after Sunday’s practice. “They don’t get the credit they deserve, probably because they were the seventh seed. It’s two playoff teams going at it.
“Regards to what they did [in Saturday’s win,] they played at a higher pace, they played at a higher compete level and executed better than us. If we’re going to win this series and Game 3, we’re going to have to raise our level. ... If anyone thought anyone was going to cruise through this series, they were wrong. Just look at the talent they have over there and how well they play their team game. We know it’s going to be a great series.”
Both players missed all five games of the first-round series against the Minnesota Wild. The Blackhawks could play the Detroit Red Wings or San Jose Sharks in the second round. The dates of the second round have not been released yet.
Bolland has missed eight consecutive games due to a lower-body injury. He suffered the injury against the Vancouver Canucks on April 22. He had seven goals and seven assists in 35 regular-season games this season.
Bolland skated with Andrew Shaw and Bryan Bickell on the third line during Saturday’s practice. Bolland played a majority of this season on the second line, but he has played on the third line in past seasons.
“We love tough decisions,” Quenneville said of where to play Bolland. “Having [Bolland] back is an option. If [there had been a] Game 6, he would have been playing today, and we would have had to look at options as well. We’ll visit with that over the next couple of days. We look forward to having him in the lineup and looking at other options.”
Emery has missed seven consecutive games due to a lower-body injury. He suffered the injury against the Edmonton Oilers on April 24. He was 17-1-0 with a 1.94 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage during the regular season. Goaltender Henrik Karlsson backed up starting goaltender Corey Crawford in the first series.