Ray Emery Carries Blackhawks To Comeback Win

The trade deadline has passed, and so must the pleasantries.

Corey Crawford sucked on Wednesday night.

Ray Emery was fantastic, and the Blackhawks offensively fought back to beat a really, really bad Toronto Maple Leafs team 5-4.

Coming into the game, the Blackhawks needed a strong start from Crawford as the coaching staff figured out how to use newly acquired Johnny Oduya on the blue line, and to see where rookies Andrew Shaw and Brandon Bollig worked with the other forwards.

Crawford’s response to that challenge was giving up a goal less than 60 seconds into the game.

Shaw pumped the tires of his own bandwagon by tying the game just over ten minutes later on a nice play. After a trip to Rockford to “settle down” a little, Shaw returned with the strong play he showed early in his first call-up. He finished the night with the one goal, his sixth, one hit and one blocked shot in just over 12 minutes of ice time.

After Shaw tied the game, though, Crawford once again felt charitable. A power play goal to Joffrey Lupol and an even-strength goal by Clarke MacArthur blew the game open 3-1, and Crawford was struggling as much with rebounds as he was to grasp his confidence.

Perhaps the biggest play of the night – a play that might, somewhere down the road, ultimately mean the difference between playoffs and golf in mid-April – was late in the first period. Nick Leddy unloaded from the point, and Marcus Kruger redirected the shot past Jonas Gustavsson to draw the game back to 3-2 at the end of one.

Leddy had a solid evening before Dion Phaneuf tried to put him into the fourth row late in the third period. In just under 24 minutes, Leddy had two assists, one takeaway and put three shots on net on the night. Leddy was also plus-two in the game.

Similarly, Kruger played a very impressive game. He won six of 12 faceoffs and scored his eighth goal of the season. He was plus-one in the game, skating just under 18 minutes. But what was clear from ice level was that Kruger’s confidence with the puck and awareness of spacing on the ice is outstanding for a player his age and with the amount of experience he has after playing overseas to begin his career.

When the second period started, Ray Emery was in net. Or, as fans with eyes called it on Wednesday night, a strong dose of Zoloft for the United Center crowd.

Emery was great, stopping 23 of 24 shots, many of which were tough saves, and the offense came to life. Patrick Kane scored for the second time in as many games, and then Marian Hossa took over. He scored the Blackhawks fourth goal while being pulled down, and added an empty net score that became the game-winner.

There were so many questions about the Blackhawks skating five rookies (not including Leddy), but every one of them played a strong game.

We’ve already talked about Shaw and Kruger scoring the Hawks’ first two goals, but the other three rookies were good as well. Dylan Olsen was credited with three hits and one takeaway in 11:50 on the ice. In just 9:30, Jimmy Hayes had one hit and one shot on goal in the game.

And Brandon Bollig did exactly what he was asked to do. In 5:34 on Wednesday night (eight shifts), he had two shots on net, one hit, one blocked shot and this:

In total, the hopes of management (and the fans) that the youngsters would inject some energy into the lineup paid off against the Leafs.

But the money question will be answered in the next three games, all of which are on the road. Can the Blackhawks survive games in Ottawa, Detroit and St. Louis playing the way they did against Toronto?

That’s doubtful.

The other new name on the roster, Johnny Oduya, had moments where he was clearly trying to learn his new teammates’ tendencies on the fly, but overall his performance was impressive. He skated 19:44 and was credited with three blocked shots and one takeaway in the game.

Finally, it would be bad form if I didn’t mention someone from the Hawks’ roster. Sami Lepisto played a fantastic 9:26 against Toronto. He was credited with two hits, one assist (on Kane’s goal), and made an incredible play to block a shot in front of a wide-open net while without a stick with under five minutes left in the game.

We’ve called out Lepisto throughout the season, as much in frustration that he’s been a ghost on the payroll for most the season and has made a few bad mistakes in his limited action. But since he’s joined the lineup on a somewhat-regular-basis in the absence of Niklas Hjalmarsson and Steve Montador, he’s been very good. (Which begs the question: where has he been all year?)

25 thoughts on “Ray Emery Carries Blackhawks To Comeback Win

  • February 29, 2012 at 11:11 pm

    Thank you for calling it like it is…it was a win, but man does this team have a lot of problems (thankfully so do the Leafs).

    Bowman didn’t deal with the goaltending issue and this is how Corey Crawford repays him…BRUTAL…Emery was good, thankfully, but I can’t see Emery staying strong, caring the load the rest of the way…sadly, goaltending is going to be an issue…

    Nice points about Leddy, Lepisto and the rookies…I love having them on the active roster…that is why I suggested we should have become more of sellers at the deadline. I think that Leddy will make a very fine DMan once he is paired with someone stronger and solid, and is played to his strengths and not weaknesses. I am very happy to have Shaw back…when he and Hayes are in the lineup we are simply a better hockey team.

    Lastly, I didn’t see what you saw in Odouya…honestly Tab, he struggled…he was on the ice for ALL 3 first period goals, out of position, not hitting, and whiffing on pucks and players. Yes it was his first game as a Hawk, but he doesn’t look like ANY ANSWER at all, just more of the problems that we already have.

    And as for Lepisto and Q…weird…hard to understand Q’s love for Scott and his disdain for Lepisto when you compare their respective bodies of work…it almost seems to me that Bowman traded Scott to force Q’s hand into playing the others consistently, including the young forwards.

  • February 29, 2012 at 11:26 pm

    I was at the game tonight and I thought Oduya was very solid out there. He is definitely a plus for the team. Once we get Toews and Hjarmlson back Oduya and the rookies will pay more dividends for us as role players/contibutors/complimentary players. Iwould still like to see Brunette out of the lineup. Also I found it interesting that the Hawks pulled their starting goalie and still won. I would guess that is a rare occurence and to me its an indication that we are becoming more resilient.

  • February 29, 2012 at 11:42 pm

    That was a fun game to be at, a really entertaining game. But then I think about the team we played – the Leafs – who suck, and it gives me pause cause we barely beat them.

    But, it was good to win. Once his first period jitters passed, Oduya looked good enough for Stan to let walk away come spring. And it was great to see the Bollig in a fight with the Leafs “future star”.

    Kane might have played the best I have ever seen him play, at least on defense.

    But, then again, it was the Leafs! Ah well, savor the victory while we can!

  • March 1, 2012 at 12:20 am

    I ‘ll take the win .

  • March 1, 2012 at 1:26 am

    Tab is it time to bring Salak up and see who can get hotter Emery or Salak? I have given up on Crawford.

  • March 1, 2012 at 2:06 am

    -Sadly, I think Crawford is at best a backup goalie. I just don’t see 1st string. Last year, he had one of those seasons. Remember other goalies their first season like…Jim Carey, Andrew Raycroft etc.
    -Oduya had a brutal first period and I remember thinking why is he paired with Seabrook? Then Q thankfully changed that and he looked fine in the last two periods.
    -I know Shaw is an agitator but I disagree with that penalty he took.
    -Did Leddy get hurt? He looked like he was nursing his wrist/lower arm after the hit he took from Phaneuf.
    -Glad they won but they definitely have to better against Ottawa.

  • March 1, 2012 at 3:56 am

    without crawford it would be an easy 4:1, 4:2 win for the hawks…. I think oduya played great… go easy on him right now.. it was his first game and first shift as a blackhawk…. in 2nd and 3rd he played great…. if emery continue to play like this I think guys will gain much confidance and then they coulde deal with much dangerous teams than leafs….

  • March 1, 2012 at 6:11 am


  • March 1, 2012 at 6:42 am

    That was probably Kane’s best game of year. I hope he plays like the rest of the year

  • March 1, 2012 at 6:47 am

    I loved seeing the hawks with some fight in them. Hope the rookies can keep that energy through this hard schedule. Tab, since you were talking about concussions yesterday, I was curious as to what you thought about the hit on kris letang last night. Roenick and millbury obviously didn’t agree.

  • March 1, 2012 at 7:54 am

    Johnny O-do-ya was Johnny Where-r-ya in the 1st period.

    Crow- when the puck is behind his net and squirts out in front… Vegas has posted 2-1 odds that it will be a goal… Really, I didn’t make that up!

    Kane’s great skating and effort- more proof that he was on Vacation the 1st 40 games.

    Kruger- w/ Toews out- Kruger is OUR net presence! Great kid- sad Hawk situation.

    Monty- hopefully we can lose his contract- free up space for next few years.

  • March 1, 2012 at 8:17 am

    The Leafs are a lot like the Hawks, they have the talent, just not the confidence or consistency. It was like we played ourselves last night…….

    That being said, I give our boys credit for battling back for a hard fought win. The Leafs pushed back hard at times & we weathered the storm & didn’t roll over.

    I’m in agreement that if we don’t play like we did in the 2nd period last night for 3 full periods every game on this road trip we could be on another 3 game loosing streak…..

    But just like losing, winning is contagious. Lets hope the Hawks caught the winning flu bug!!

  • March 1, 2012 at 8:39 am

    I’m not a Kane basher but Kane played because they gave him space. The Toronto defence isn’t anything stellar by any means. Kane does that against Nashville or Phoenix then I’ll be impressed. Toronto gave him the space to do his thing.

    Hossa, on the other hand, I wanna see take the bull by the horns, like Malkin has with Pittsburgh. He’s definitely capable of doing it.

  • March 1, 2012 at 9:09 am

    What has happened to Dave Bolland? He’s been pretty bad all year, but over the last few weeks it has gotten worse and last night he was spectacularly bad. He was out of position most of the defensively, made several poor clearing attempts (some leading directly to goals, others to great plays that others had to make to cover his backside). I don’t know if he just doesn’t care until the playoffs or what, but even his changes were slow and late. He is the player that has ticked me off the most. It was nice to see 6 d-men play the full game though.

  • March 1, 2012 at 9:55 am

    Lets face it the Hawks , without Toews, are just average. Even with Toews they are not an elite team. With the trade deadline having passed and the team not doing anything of note I think that gives some insight to just how bad Toews is hurt. I think that if Toews was due to comeback soon Bowman would have been more aggressive in getting a 2nd line center. But it looks like they know Toews is going to out for a while (the rest of the season?) and figured there is little use in giving up players, picks, and/or prospects for a player who is to help take pressure off Toews. Not replace him. It looks like the know they will not have their best player going forward and want to see if their prospects can help keep them in the playoff picture.

    Hopefully Toews will be back soon and healthy. If not then there are some real problems ahead for this team.

  • March 1, 2012 at 10:18 am

    What is up with all the back passes the Hawks make? No wonder the Hawks PP stinks it’s dump the puck in and pass back to the point or carry it in and pass back to the point. Teams know exactly what the Hawks are going to do and press the point and it leads to turnovers going the other way. It’s not like the Hawks have huge shots from the point. Go to the net, create some traffic and SHOOT THE DAM PUCK and these back passes behind our own net drives me crazy.

  • March 1, 2012 at 10:35 am

    Also to add, can we please keep Crawford out of the net and allow Emery start and try Salak as backup. there a way too many weak goals to overcome. Someone on here mentioned awhile ago that we couldn’t fire Q because there are no other coaches out there qualified, how about Ted Nolan. All the guy does is win where ever he coaches but has somehow been blacklisted.

  • March 1, 2012 at 11:20 am

    Hawks need to make a strong play for Corey Schneider in the offseason…

  • March 1, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    I’ll take the win. That said, some thoughts:
    1. Crawford is bad.
    2. AC is right, Bolland has been bad the past month and was terrible last night.
    3. Toronto is bad.
    4. I thought Oduya was ok/as expected, a 4th-5th type D, although I thought he was going to be more physical. I guess he’s more of a puck mover and solid position guy.
    5. I’d like to see Olsen and Hayes start getting more aggressive/physical to match their size as we don’t need more big-but-softer-than-they-could-be types (Bickels.)
    6. Shaw and Bollig were fun to watch as they brought aggression and energy to the ice.

    Next 3 games will tell us much more about our goaltending situation and our ability to play with playoff caliber teams. Here’s to hoping….

  • March 1, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    Didn’t Emery play great last year at this time to help Anahiem down the stretch?I’m not saying he is the answer long haul but maybe this time of year agrees with him.

  • March 1, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    Crawford often looks to be not quick enough to react and not fast enough from side to side — between the pipes .

    Any other observations or thoughts ?

  • March 1, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    They brought in Barry Smith to help out on the special teams….maybe he’ll be helping Stephane Waite too with the goaltenders. lol

  • March 1, 2012 at 5:17 pm

    Only one positive last night… They won. They won because they played with desperation. Kane and Hossa put the cape on and said… follow me. If Kane wants to endear himself with Chicago…. again, he must continue his all-out effort/play.

    It would be nice to know what happened to Sharp, Stalhberg, and Bolland. MIA.

    To evaluate the additions. Shaw was what he was when he first came up. Lets home he has the stamina to keep it up. Hayes skated all over the ice but just didn’t end up on the score sheet. Bollig looked like a first time NHL’r. However he does skate decent.

    As far as the defense…. Oduya was scattered in the first, but the one thing that stood out for me was his ability to pass from side to side. He didn’t hesitate and his passes were on the stick. Many times our D-man take too long to size up the goalie, which allows the other teams forwards/goalie time to adjust. If he continues to be frantic on the ice, then cast him out. However if he does settle down, and teaches our current d-man to pass quick and precise…. huge. As far as Montador, I think we will be stuck with his contract. Maybe someone will tell him to check like he did before he came to the hawks. Surprising Lepisto has looked better and better each game… Never will be a top 4, but it appears he could be serviceable.

    Keith continues to simplify his game and it shows on the ice. Seabrook, as expected is solid.

    As far as forwards….sit Brunette. Cast off Morrison. Bickle seems to show more flashes of ability than not. If he could get consistent he would be more than serviceable. Frolik? How in the world did he ever score 20 goals.

    As far as the goalie… Crawford simply doesn’t deserve to be on the ice. His confidence is gone, and it appears his teammates confidence isn’t there either. Emery isn’t the answer. He has good hands, but his lateral movement is too slow. He doesn’t appear to be able to react from sided to side or up and down well. I’m not sure Salak is the answer either. I wasn’t that impressed during pre-season. I think Hutton down in Rockford has been getting the majority of the playing time recently.

    As far as coaching… I believe Kitchen must go. Friend or no friend to Q… he will go down if we don’t replace him. The PP has been brutal the last two years and the PK has been underachieving.

  • March 1, 2012 at 7:24 pm

    Bolland has a pretty good year,I dont know what your talking about.When Toews is outta the lineup his faceoff percentage sky rockets.He does pretty well with his checking line when hes got the support.I believe other players need to be scrutinized before Bollie.

  • March 1, 2012 at 10:53 pm

    I really like how Kruger is coming on; for a guy his size he shows no fear of rushing the net and mixing it up. Aside from Toews, I think he gets battered more than anyone…always interesting to see the bad asses wearing the other sweaters working over Kruger; time for teammates to stand up for him I’d say, eh?
    I thought Lepisto played a nice game and Oduya debuted OK as well. Great to see Kane exhibit some aggressiveness; for all those clamoring to see him go I couldn’t disagree more. Even with the obvious off-year that he’s having he’s got intangible traits & abilities of offensive creativity that no one else on the team comes close to; few others in the league as well. He’ll be back to form, patience is a virtue. And last, Hossa was a beast vs. the Leafs; I find it hard to believe only one other post (KURT) even mentioned his performance in the game. That said, I wonder what game some people watch or what they think they see. Considering many of the off-the-wall comments I’m not surprised.

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