CSNChicago.com Blackhawks Insider Tracey Myers and PGL host Chris Boden will evaluate the 2011-12 performance of each player on the Hawks roster. One breakdown will occur every weekday in numerical order.
After coming back from a career-threatening hip injury that would require surgery and limit him to just 10 games played in 2010-11, Ray Emery played in 34 games -- starting 27 of them -- in 2011-12 for the Blackhawks. He finished the season with a 15-9-4 record, a .900 save percentage and 2.81 goals-against average. Emery did not see any action in the playoffs.
Boden's take: Ray Emery was outplayed by Alexander Salak in the preseason in his bid to make the Blackhawks' roster on a training camp tryout, but Stan Bowman chose to sign him anyway. It didn't look like the right move at the time, but it turned out to be exactly that. Salak wound up struggling at Rockford, and Emery did exactly what he was supposed to do as a backup to Corey Crawford. As Crawford struggled with his consistency throughout the year, there were times Emery looked like he could carry the load, and others where he looked like, well, Crawford. As a backup goalie, I think just about any team would take the numbers Emery put up. By and large, he wasn't spectacular, but was more consistent than Crawford, and almost appeared to be the playoff goalie Joel Quenneville would settle on before Crawford put a hot streak together down the sretch.
Myers' take: When the veteran was signed to a tryout contract heading into training camp, it might as well have just been a regular one-year deal. Salak, who battled Emery for the No. 2 job, actually had better numbers out of camp. But it was pretty obvious the Blackhawks wanted a more veteran presence behind Crawford, who was going into his sophomore season. Emery filled that role well, guiding the Blackhawks to victories during the several slumps Crawford experienced. Emery's play was good enough at times that the dreaded "goalie controversy" once again became a topic of discussion. But the soft-spoken Emery always downplayed that talk when it came up, and just kept going about his winning business.
Boden: Since it doesn't appear as though there will be changes in the Hawks' goalie tandem, this team either needs Crawford to revert to his rookie form, or Emery to turn back the clock six years when he led Ottawa to the Stanley Cup Finals. Whether he's fully capable of that after his career-saving hip surgery two years ago is uncertain. There were also some questions about his being a good teammate, but that was all prior to his injury, and there have been no complaints inside the Blackhawks locker room or in his time with Anaheim. The Hawks recommitted to Emery for one more year (1.15 million) on the final weekend of the regular season. If he repeats what he does as a backup and Crawford re-emerges from his rollercoaster sophomore season, the questions in net will be fewer with the help of a better overall defensive effort in front of the two.
Myers: Emery's already signed to another one-year deal, so we know he'll be back. Considering Crawford's rough 2011-12, some may wonder if Emery's starting goaltender material. Probably not. But the veteran has a good relationship with Crawford -- Crawford said he looked at Emery's pregame preparation and changed his own afterward -- and that should continue through next season. Emery is a good safety net, there's no doubt.
How do you feel about this evaluation? As always, be sure to chime in with your thoughts by commenting below and check out highlights of Emery above.
Up next: Dylan Olsen