'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 Talk Podcast: How do Friday's blockbuster deals impact the Blackhawks going forward

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: How do Friday's blockbuster deals impact the Blackhawks going forward

On the latest edition of the Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle, Tracey Myers and Charlie Roumeliotis break down the Blackhawks' blockbuster deals involving Niklas Hjalmarsson being dealt to Arizona and re-acquiring Brandon Saad from Columbus in exchange for Artemi Panarin.

They also discuss what it means for the team going forward, and whether it's a precursor to bigger deals to come.

Listen to the latest episode of the Hawks Talk Podcast below.

In Saad’s case, re-acquiring Blackhawks alumni is beneficial

In Saad’s case, re-acquiring Blackhawks alumni is beneficial

* “Don’t look to the past anymore. It’s great to think you can recapture the magic with former players but years go by and times change.”

The sentences you see above were written by yours truly after the Blackhawks were unceremoniously eliminated from the first round in April. And for the most part, I stand by the message. The Blackhawks kept going back to their alumni well for solutions but, for the most part, it wasn’t working. But there’s always an exception to the rule, always one asterisk that can be applied in every situation (as we’ve done here).

In this case, that exception is Brandon Saad.

This isn’t someone who played with the Blackhawks five or more years ago. This isn’t a player who’s in his 30s. This isn’t a player who’s at the end of his career. This is a player in his prime, a 24-year-old who has a whole lot of game remaining and a whole lot of familiarity with this group, especially captain Jonathan Toews.

By the way, anyone else struck by the irony that the same Saad deal that the Blackhawks couldn’t afford two years ago is now one that fits perfectly, and will be really beneficial in two seasons when they don’t have to worry about trying to re-sign Artemi Panarin, who will be an unrestricted free agent?

Anyway, back to revisiting the past. General manager Stan Bowman admitted that he was hoping to bring Saad back into the fold at some point, although talks for this particular deal didn’t heat up until the past few days.

“Certainly it was a tough move a couple of years ago to have to make that trade [of Saad to the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2015]," Bowman said. “Today my conversation had a much different tone. Brandon’s coming back and that chemistry is there right away and intensity and the way he plays. His all-around game is second to none.”

Saad said he wondered if he’d end up with the Blackhawks again at some point in his career.

“The day I was traded I talked with Stan and you part ways, but it’s a small league and there are always opportunities. It was definitely a thought in my mind possibly ending up in Chicago,” he said. “I didn’t think it’d happen this soon but that’s just the way it happened. It’s exciting to be back somewhere I’m comfortable, somewhere I know and an organization that’s had success.”

Yes, the Blackhawks went back to their alumni well. But instead of getting an aging veteran they’ve reacquired a kid in his prime. Every situation can come with an asterisk. This is one exception that will turn out well for the Blackhawks.