Corey Crawford to start opener

Updated: January 18, 2013, 10:31 PM ET
By Scott Powers | ESPNChicago.com

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford will start in the team's season opener against the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said on Friday.

Crawford was chosen as the starter over Ray Emery. It's the second consecutive season Crawford was named the team's starter for the season opener.

"We welcome tough decisions, but we're very comfortable with it," Quenneville said after Friday's practice at the Toyota Sports Center.

The 28-year-old Crawford went 30-17-7 with a 2.72 goals against average and a .903 save percentage last season, which was his second year. He ranked 32nd in goals-against average and was tied for 35th in save percentage. He did not have any shutouts last season.

Crawford was 33-18-6 with a 2.30 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage in his first full season in 2010-11.

Crawford said Friday he was excited to get the season going and was hopeful to do well from the start.

"I don't know anyone who is going to say they don't want to get off to a good start," Crawford said. "I just got to focus on the puck. I know it's cliché, but focus on the puck and make sure the focus is there the whole game. And I think the rest will carry over with it.

"Experience definitely helps. I think I get better with experience. Any games I've had under my belt so far is definitely going to help for the future, especially this next game."

Crawford made 31 saves and allowed two goals in a 2-1 loss to the Dallas Stars in the season opener last season. Marty Turco started over Crawford at the beginning of the 2010-11 season.

The 30-year-old Emery will back up Crawford on Saturday. Emery went 15-9-4 with a 2.81 goals against average and .900 save percentage last season.

Scott Powers is a general reporter for ESPNChicago.com. He is an award-winning journalist and has been reporting on preps, colleges and pros for publications throughout the Midwest since 1997.