'Dependable' Emery will start vs. Avalanche

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'Dependable' Emery will start vs. Avalanche

Updated: Monday, Feb. 6 at 6:09 p.m.

Joel Quenneville rolled out his reasons for going with Ray Emery against the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday.

Hes been solid, predictable and dependable. The guys played well in front of him the other night and he gave us a chance to get a point or two, he said. Unfortunately we didnt, but he deserves another start.

Basically, Quenneville said of Emery, every time hes been in the net for us this year hes been consistent.

Yes, Emery has been consistent. And right now, thats what the very inconsistent Chicago Blackhawks need.

Emery will get his second consecutive start on Tuesday night, as the Blackhawks look to end a five-game winless skid (0-4-1) in Denver. Corey Crawford will take a step back once again, much like he did in early December when Emery took the reins and went on a winning streak.

Perhaps that could happen again.

I think in Rays situation, he hasnt had a great chance to run with it, Quenneville said. Coreys had a lot of key games here recently. Well see how it plays out.

Ideally, Quenneville would like to have both his goaltenders as reliable, go-to options. But outside of a run from late December to mid-January, when Crawford and Emery were swapping in and out and both winning, that hasnt happened.

Granted, the differences in their goals-against average and save percentages arent tremendous. Crawford has a 2.94 GAA and a .900 save percentage while Emerys numbers are 2.73 and .904, respectively. But when Emery plays he wins, as hes compiled an 11-4-2 mark this season.

While Crawford cant be blamed for all of the Blackhawks recent woes the team defense has been suspect at best he hasnt been as strong as he could be. He certainly hasnt been as strong as he was last season, when his work down the stretch helped push the Blackhawks into the postseason.

Crawford admits he hasnt been as good as he could be, but doesnt think its about teams solving him from one season to the next.

Its still pretty much the same game, the same shots. I dont think thats the case where teams are figuring me out. The only problem is the consistency.

Is this going to be another case of backup replaces No. 1 goaltender for the top job? The Blackhawks have been down this path a few consecutive seasons already. But Quenneville isnt willing to commit to that road again just yet.

We dont want to get too far in advance. (Emerys) done well so well see how it goes, he said. Goaltending is a key part of our game. A lot of times a team in front responds to how the goaltender is playing.

The Blackhawks need a response to their current slide. Theyll see if Emery can provide the presence to spark it.

Blackhawks will consider breaking up Artemi Panarin, Patrick Kane

Blackhawks will consider breaking up Artemi Panarin, Patrick Kane

Saturday morning’s potential lineup looked different for a few reasons. First, there were more familiar faces, thanks to players trickling in after their World Cup of Hockey work.

Second, Artemi Panarin and Patrick Kane weren’t on the same line. While part of that is because the Blackhawks are still short a few players, it’s also an experiment that could carry over into the regular-season.

Kane was with Nick Schmaltz and Artem Anisimov and Panarin was with Vinnie Hinostroza and Richard Panik and they’ll see how that works starting Saturday night against the St. Louis Blues. Granted, this is only part of the change. The main gist is to give Jonathan Toews, who hasn’t joined the Blackhawks for camp yet, a good playing partner on that top line. Still, it’s a first look coach Joel Quenneville would like to take.

"It’s definitely a thought process and we’re saying ‘Let’s have a look at it in camp," Quenneville said. "And maybe we can have a different look or something to think about, at least, going into the season with Johnny and Kaner being on different lines and having more balance on both lines."

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The Blackhawks struggled with finding the right combinations, outside of that top line, last season. Panarin did play with Toews for a few games but the combination didn’t click as well as the Panarin-Kane one, and that second line of those two and Anisimov was quickly restored. This season the issues facing the Blackhawks’ forward depth are obvious, so it’s worth another look to see, once Toews gets here, if he and Panarin can get something going.

"[It’s] more so about having balance on both lines and having more depth and scoring throughout the lineup," Quenneville said.

BRIEFLY

- Niklas Hjalmarsson, Marcus Kruger and Brent Seabrook will also play vs. St. Louis.

- Quenneville said Duncan Keith (knee) is progressing well and, "we’re hoping that he can get a [preseason] game in or so."

- Scott Darling is slated to play the entire game against the Blues.

Blackhawks release G Jake Hildebrand from tryout agreement

Blackhawks release G Jake Hildebrand from tryout agreement

The Blackhawks released goaltender Jake Hildebrand from his tryout agreement, the team announced after a 1-0 preseason loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday night.

The 23-year-old netminder signed a one-year contract with the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League in June as an undrafted free agent.

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Hildebrand's best season at Michigan State came during his junior year in 2014-15 when he was named the best goaltender and player in the Big Ten after registering a 2.18 goals against average and .930 save percentage, including six shutouts which was tied for second in the nation.

The Blackhawks' active roster now includes 28 forwards, 16 defensemen and five goaltenders.