Blackhawks

Defense strikes, Emery shines in Blackhawks win

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Defense strikes, Emery shines in Blackhawks win

Ray Emery has just focused on improving his game in his short time with the Chicago Blackhawks. And on Friday, it culminated in his best game this season.

Emery stopped 24 of 25 and Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook scored their first goals of the season as the Blackhawks beat the Calgary Flames 4-1.

The victory was the Blackhawks second in as many nights; it was also their seventh consecutive victory over the Flames at the United Center.

Emery was solid from start to finish, denying the Flames early when the Blackhawks, who played last night in Columbus, were committing some early mistakes. One of his biggest stops came on a Curtis Glencross breakaway, when the Blackhawks were holding a 2-0 lead in the second period.

We were joking with him; we thought hed be one of the stars of the game. We definitely thought he deserved it, captain Jonathan Toews said. But he stepped in there when we needed him to. He was a big help in the win tonight.

Emery said hes felt better as the season has gone on.

You want to get more comfortable in there and Im definitely working on things, said Emery, who wasnt upset when Olli Jokinens third-period goal denied him the shutout. You just want to win and they buzzed around a bit from the start. Its good when you get the early lead. You just want to keep the lead and limit the other teams chances.

Viktor Stalberg also scored for the Blackhawks; Patrick Kane added an empty-net goal with 3.4 seconds remaining in the third. Patrick Sharp had three assists and Marian Hossa had two.

Emery did his job in net, and once again the Blackhawks defensemen did theirs on the score sheet. Keith, playing in his 500th career NHL game, gave the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead midway through the first period. Seabrook added his, a power-play goal from the blue line, in the second.

Blackhawks defensemen now have 10 points in the last two games.

I think thats part of our game that needs to be there, Keith said. Its nice to get points and things like that, but the main thing is keeping plays alive, having good gaps and supporting our forwards.

The Blackhawks are back on the winning side. Theyre back atop the Western Conference standings and theyre getting that team game they know they need.

I thought that the whole team played great tonight, really fast paced out there on both sides, Keith said. It was nice to get the first (goal) and gather the momentum.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Are Blackhawks doomed to miss playoffs without Crawford?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Are Blackhawks doomed to miss playoffs without Crawford?

Jesse Rogers (ESPN Chicago), Patrick Finley (Chicago Sun-Times) and Dan McNeil join Chuck Garfien on the panel.

Corey Crawford is reportedly suffering vertigo-like symptoms and there’s a chance he might not return this season. Are the Blackhawks playoff chances gone if he doesn’t come back?

Plus, the guys talk Bears coaches, preview Conference Championship weekend and Jesse discusses if the Cubs are saving their money for next winter’s big free agent class.

Listen to the latest SportsTalk Live Podcast right here:

Why Corey Crawford situation is tricky for Blackhawks

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USA TODAY

Why Corey Crawford situation is tricky for Blackhawks

The Blackhawks have been tight-lipped about Corey Crawford's status ever since he was placed on injured reserve on Dec. 27 with an upper-body injury, and it's fueled rampant speculation on social media about what's really going on. That came to an end on Tuesday when Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times reported that there's growing concern within the organization that its star goaltender could miss the remainder of the season with vertigo-like symptoms. (Blackhawks senior adviser Scotty Bowman went on Sportsnet 590 The Fan on Wednesday to clarify it's post-concussion syndrome).

And while there's at least some clarity surrounding Crawford's condition, it's opened up more questions about what the Blackhawks may do going forward.

On Monday we broke down the unfavorable playoff picture for the Blackhawks going into the bye week, which was a glaring concern in and of itself. Add in the possibility that Crawford could be sidelined for the rest of the campaign and those chances absolutely diminish.

So what course of action should the Blackhawks take ahead of the Feb. 26 trade deadline? That's where the tricky part comes in.

Because of the nature of Crawford's injury, the Blackhawks aren't at a point right now where they want to put him on long-term injured reserve because that would require him to miss a minimum of 10 games or 24 days, and they're still holding out hope that he could come back within that timeframe. The problem with it is that nobody really knows. It could be days, weeks or months, and putting a restriction on that doesn't make much sense in the middle of a playoff run even though it would open up significant cap space.

Which brings us to our next point. There are certainly some decent rental goaltenders (Robin Lehner, Petr Mrazek or Antti Raanta, to name a few) on the market if the Blackhawks choose to go that route, but that might not be the wisest thing to do.

Given their spot in the standings and the chances Crawford could return, why risk giving up future assets for a playoff run that may not happen? It would be different if the Blackhawks wanted to add some insurance for the stretch run and postseason, but there's no guarantee it'll happen.

If the Blackhawks did, however, want to go that route, they would need to act quickly because there's no point in waiting closer to the deadline. Every point is crucial from here on out.

Perhaps the best and most logical idea is to stand pat.

Let it ride with Anton Forsberg and Jeff Glass and hope they can hold the fort down until a potential Crawford return. Let the young guys continue to grow. Maybe add a defenseman to patch up the back end, but don't empty the tank. There's no reason to. The Blackhawks are hoping to sign highly-touted prospect Dylan Sikura after his college season ends, which would serve as a deadline acquisition by itself.

It will be tempting for the Blackhawks to be aggressive at the trade deadline in the wake of Crawford's injury, and they're surely already having these discussions as they continue to explore the different avenues. But this might be a rare case where doing nothing is the right way to go.