Blackhawks breakdown: Ray Emery

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Blackhawks breakdown: Ray Emery

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.
2012-13 Expectations

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

Three Bears necessities to lay a broom on the Lions

Three Bears necessities to lay a broom on the Lions

If the Lions beat the Bears in Detroit, it'd be a recent rarity. No, not the Bears losing, but in this long series that reaches 175 games Sunday. One team or the other has swept the season series 11 of the last 12 years (the lone exception being 2011). The 17-14 Bears win Oct. 2 ended a string of six consecutive losses to their division rivals. At that point, both clubs were 1-3. The Bears have remained at that pace since, while the Lions have taken off, winning seven of eight.

It was Brian Hoyer's steady hand that guided that win, while a Vic Fangio defense missing Eddie Goldman, Pernell McPhee and Danny Trevathan forced Matthew Stafford into easily his worst game of the season.

1. STAY COMMITTED

That first meeting was Jordan Howard's first start, and his first 100-yard game, and the rook ran it 23 times for the first of five 100-yard rushing efforts (113). And since the two Bears touchdowns were scored by a couple of players who won't suit up Sunday (Eddie Royal and Zach Miller, from a quarterback who also won't be suiting up), keep feeding the beast. He's 117 yards from reaching the 1,000-yard mark (after just a dozen carries the first three games), and another 100-yard effort would give him the most for a rookie in Bears franchise history.

2. A FASTER START FOR MATT

...meaning Barkley, not Stafford. The Bears want to avoid a faster start by Stafford and the home offense, which was held to just one first down and 14 total plays on their first four possessions back in October. As Barkley makes his first NFL road start in a dome, he and his offensive teammates need to get out of the gate quicker than they have the last two home games. Before they got things rolling on the final drive of the first half against the San Francisco 49ers, they had four possessions that totaled 14 plays, 27 net yards and two first downs. In Barkley's first start two weeks ago against the Tennessee Titans, they surrounded one 13-play touchdown drive in the opening half with five possessions, totaling 16 plays, 108 yards, three first downs, and an interception.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

3. HOO-RATIO

The Bears have lost the turnover battle in eight of their 12 games, and just twice have they won it. One of those instances was in Week 4. For a team that has just five interceptions all year, against a quarterback who's thrown just five picks, two came in the first meeting on the lakefront. And those picks were by (....wait for it....) Deiondre Hall (the rookie who'll play for the first time since that game), and Jacoby Glenn, who's now back on the practice squad. Now, yes, Stafford is a different beast in his den, and there's a completely different confidence level now for the NFC North leaders. But what if the defense can pull an encore? And can Leonard Floyd and Akiem Hicks pick up where they left off against another mobile quarterback? The Bears had just two sacks in the first meeting, registered by (....wait for it....) Mitch Unrein and Cornelius Washington.

** Finish up your snow removal by 11 a.m. Plop yourself in front of CSN, and watch ex-Bears Lance Briggs, Jim Miller and Alex Brown join Chris for Bears Pregame Live. Then as soon as the second quarter ends on CBS, log on here to CSNChicago.com as Jim and Chris break down the first 30 minutes and go over second half adjustments on Bears Halftime Live. Finally, as soon as the team's start sharing handshakes, flip back to CSN as the three ex-Bears and Chris provide 90 minutes of reaction, analysis, press conferences and locker room interviews from Detroit on Bears Postgame Live. **

Complete Bears-Lions coverage on CSN

Complete Bears-Lions coverage on CSN

The Bears and Detroit Lions square off Sunday at noon and CSN Chicago has you covered along the way.

Check out a schedule of Sunday's events:

— Meijer Bears Pregame Live with Chris Boden, Lance Briggs, Alex Brown and Jim Miller airs at 11 a.m. on CSN.

— Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois Bears Halftime Live streaming live on CSNChicago.com and ChicagoBears.com.

— State Farm Bears Postgame Live airing immediately after the game on CSN.

Important Twitter follows:

— John "Moon" Mullin (@CSNMoonMullin), CSNChicago

— Bears Talk (@CSNBears), CSNChicago

— Kip Lewis (@CSNKipLewis), CSNChicago

— Chris Boden (@CSNBoden), CSNChicago