Updated: 4:42 p.m.
Corey Crawford is in uncharted NHL territory: hes slumping. Its something thats unknown to him at this level, as he excelled in every situation during his rookie season and even through the first month of this one.
So while he works on getting out of his slump, the Blackhawks will turn to their backup on Thursday night.
Ray Emery will get the start when the Blackhawks face the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum on Thursday. It will be the second start in the last three games for Emery, who also had relief duty when Crawford was pulled against Phoenix on Tuesday night.
For Emery, whos sporting a 4-1-2 mark, its a chance to continue the solid work hes done during the regular season. He won in St. Louis on Saturday, and outside of that mess in Edmonton, which was a team-wide debacle, hes been steady.
For Crawford, its a chance to take a step back, assess whats happening and work on it.
He can work on some things (with goaltending coach Stephane Waite) and get that confidence in the net, coach Joel Quenneville said. He can work on (things), whether its handling the puck, rebound control or fighting through traffic. Stephs going to be working with him the next few days to get that game back where it needs to be.
Crawford was stellar the first month of this season. He had some good games in November, but thats also when the inconsistencies started to show. Sometimes it was defensive mistakes that he couldnt make up for the Blackhawks defensive issues have been there plenty this season. But other times Crawford was allowing bad goals. It obviously hasnt set well with the competitive Crawford.
Its not very fun; its frustrating. Every second game seems to be a rough one for me, said Crawford. Im just trying to work hard, battle through it. Thats the only way I see getting out of it.
Quenneville isnt calling this a controversy. This is the first time Crawfords struggled in the NHL so its hardly that. But the Blackhawks are nevertheless going to address Crawfords ups and downs, and let him work his way through them.
Since hes been here, hes had the net and everythings been going great. So something like this (slump) gets your attention, Quenneville said. Thats why him and Steph work well. Its only a matter of time until he recaptures that confidence.
Crawford will work on it. He wont, however, mentally dwell on it.
I dont like losing, I dont like being pulled. But the worst thing I could do is start thinking about it too much and put everything on my shoulders, he said. Ill just keep doing what Ive been doing.