Hawks going with Emery's hot hand
CHICAGO -- To just about no one’s surprise Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville plans to start Ray Emery in net for the second consecutive game when the Hawks host the San Jose Sharks on Sunday.
“He hasn’t had a chance to go,” Quenneville said after practice on Saturday. “Right now we’ll see where we’re going. At the same time [Corey Crawford] is working on his game. It’s part of the process.”
“Chance to go” means a chance to have the net for as long as he plays well. And “part of the process” is really about Quenneville’s process when it comes to his goalie situation. Crawford was, and maybe still is, the No. 1 goaltender but we’re at stage 2 of a possible goalie change. if it’s going to happen at all.
Quenneville no longer has a set schedule. He’s going to play the hot hand. At least that’s what his “process” was the past two years. That’s what Stage 2 is. When Emery falters they’ll go back to Crawford for Stage 3. Crawford will still be given the benefit of the doubt at that point. But if he stumbles in a similar manner, it’s back to Emery for Stage 4. At that point, all bets are off and Emery could win the job. If it happens we can look back at this stretch as the beginning of the change.
Emery is playing it humble right now and being a good teammate at the same time.
“I think it might be an opportunity to give [Crawford] a bit of a rest. You don’t want your guys playing 65, 70 games a year,” he said. “Maybe that’s what my contribution can be to a successful playoff team is, having a fresh goalie.”
Who knows, all of this might be meaningless if Crawford regains his solid form. Right now, there is no reason to expect he won’t. It’s simply something to monitor.
• Crawford has been working with goalie coach Stephane Waite the last few days.
“Just practicing hard,” Crawford said. “That’s all you can really do. Stay focus and work hard. I’ll just be hungry for next time I get in the net.”
• Sami Lepisto is expected in the lineup again on Sunday after seeing action Thursday for the first time in eight games. Lepisto played 12:31, was even, with two shots on net.
“You practice every day,” he said. “Game is a little different but I didn’t feel any rust. Just trying to keep it simple.”
•Brent Seabrook will play in his 500th NHL game on Sunday, all with the Hawks. He said after he got hurt earlier this year he kind of lost track at what number he was at but knew it was approaching.
“Looking back on it now it seems like it’s gone by really fast,” Seabrook said. “There were stretches there that seemed like it would take forever to get to 50 games.”
Seabrook said he wants to “win more Stanley Cups” and finish his career as a Hawk. He doesn’t like change. He spent four years with the same juniors’ team and now seven with the Hawks.
• The Daily Herald’s Tim Sassone brought up an interesting point in the dressing room Saturday. Why aren’t more wingers, like Marian Hossa, considered for the Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward in the league? Only nine of 33 winners have been non-centers. Joel Quenneville and Jonathan Toews both think Hossa is deserving.
“He doesn’t have the ego where there’s things he’s too good to do out there,” Toews said. “It seems like it’s always a centerman that’s nominated for that position. I don’t see why not.”
“I’m more comfortable playing with someone for a longer period of time,” he said. “Definitely, Kruger improved lots since last year. He’s getting more and more comfortable. The good thing is he’s young. He’s going to get better and better.”
• Sharp and his wife had a baby girl on Friday after the Hawks returned from their game in New York against the Islanders. It should be a game he never forgets. As he was scoring twice, including the game winner in overtime, his wife started going into labor.
“I called my wife after the game and was expecting a ‘congratulations’ or ‘nice goal’ and the first thing she said was ‘I think I’m having the baby,’” Sharp explained.
He got back in plenty of time but knows his life is changing forever.
“I told [Duncan Keith], he’s got that big house. I might rent out one of those bedrooms for game days,” Sharp said of napping before the game. “That’s ok. I’ll give up the pregame nap if I have to for that.”
• Toews was asked if he could see himself having a family in the middle of his hockey career. He noted Sharp is only the third player on the team with kids, along with Jamal Mayers and Hossa. John Scott has one on the way as well.
“Yeah, I’m human,” Toews joked. “Before you know it, it’s going to change pretty quick here.”
For the record, Toews meant guys in the room would probably be having families in the near future but he has no immediate plans.
• In attendance at Sunday’s game will be several inductees to the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame, including former Hawks Chris Chelios and Gary Suter. Jeremy Roenick and Ed Belfour will also be on hand to lend support. Belfour entered the Hockey Hall of Fame this year. The U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame ceremonies are Monday in Chicago.