Blackhawks

Emery continues to ride confidence streak

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Emery continues to ride confidence streak

Ray Emery expects a lot from himself.

The Blackhawks backup goaltender is always pushing for improvement, always pushing for results. And lately, hes getting them both.

Emery will be the Blackhawks starter when they host the San Jose Sharks on Sunday night. It will be the third start in the Blackhawks last four games for Emery, who won in St. Louis last weekend and against the New York Islanders on Thursday night.

The veteran goalie has gained confidence as his season has progressed; and while No. 1 goaltender Corey Crawford works on getting some kinks out of his game, the Blackhawks will ride Emerys confident streak with him.

He just seems to progress in games, coach Joel Quenneville said. Hes excited, especially when games are on the line. Hes very solid, he finds pucks and his concentration level is in the right place. He moves well, seems big and looks comfortable and confident in the net.

Emery wasnt thrilled with his game coming out of training camp. Numbers-wise, it seemed Alex Salak, against whom he was competing for the backup shot, had the better performances. But Emerys game has sharpened since seasons start, hes now 5-1-2 and is taking advantage of his opportunities.

Im happy to get wins but at the same time I think that you can always get better, Emery said. As soon as you think youre doing well, get too comfortable something might happen. You just have to be ready.

Teammates have seen Emerys confidence level rise.

Hes been in the game for a long time but during the year youve seen it, just like the rest of us have, that hes getting better and better, Jonathan Toews said. Its great to see that. It gives everyone confidence. Our goaltenders have won us a lot of games. Its always up to us to go out and help them and make their job easier.

As far as all that comparing-the-goaltenders talk, Emerys not listening to it. As far as hes concerned, hes an option while Crawford works or even needs a break.

You dont necessarily want your guy playing 65, 70 games a year. If Crows fresher come playoff time its better for the team, said Emery, who never played more than 58 games in any season of his NHL career. Maybe thats what my contribution can be to a successful playoff team.

Whatever his role, Emerys ready to contribute.

Ill take the games when I can get them, he said. At the same time I have to be sharp and stay hungry.

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

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NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Ottawa Senators tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Trade chips.

The Blackhawks have reached the point in their season where they have no choice but to become sellers before the Feb. 26 deadline, and we saw that when they traded Michal Kempny to the Washington Capitals on Monday for a conditional third-round pick in 2018. Tommy Wingels could also be an attractive piece for a team looking to fill out their depth.

The Senators will definitely be sellers, and wow do they have some names potentially on the market that can fetch large returns: Derrick Brassard and Mike Hoffman are two players who log top-six minutes on a nightly basis and also have term left on their contract, which is great for teams looking to load up for this year and beyond.

The biggest name to watch, probably in the league altogether, is Erik Karlsson, who could be on the move if a team offers a big enough package for the Senators to pull the trigger now as opposed to in the offseason if they feel him re-signing is a long shot. He was the best defenseman last season, and if a team steps up to get him, they're getting two possible postseason runs out of him.

2. Artem Anisimov's experiment at left wing not working.

Joel Quenneville has tried rekindling the magic between Anisimov, Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane as of late, only this time Anisimov is playing the wing and it just hasn't been very effective. The trio was on the ice for each of the two 5-on-5 goals the Kings scored on Monday, and Anisimov completely lost his man on the first one.

It's important to establish a consistent left winger for Schmaltz and Kane, and maybe putting Alex DeBrincat up there is something you consider going forward as part of a long-term solution. Move Anisimov back down as the third-line center to play in more of a defensive role and continue using his big body on power plays for his offensive abilities might be the best bet.

3. Win the special teams battle.

In their last meeting against Ottawa on Jan. 9, the Blackhawks went 4-for-6 on the power play and 4-on-4 on the penalty kill in an 8-2 win. And those are two areas to look out for again.

The Senators own the 28th-ranked power play with a 16.1 percent success rate and 29th-ranked penalty kill with a 74.5 percent success rate. Get ready for another offensive outburst?

Podcast: Which Blackhawks could be on the move before trade deadline?

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USA TODAY

Podcast: Which Blackhawks could be on the move before trade deadline?

On the latest Blackhawks Talk Podcast, Adam Burish and Pat Boyle discuss which Blackhawks could be on the trading block and what players are building blocks for the Hawks future.

Burish also shares a couple memorable trade deadline days and his “near” return to the Blackhawks in 2012. Plus, he makes his bold trade deadline prediction for the Hawks.

Listen to the full Blackhawks Talk Podcast right here: