Blackhawks

No controversy, Blackhawks have goalie luxury

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No controversy, Blackhawks have goalie luxury

As Ray Emery began his successful stint in the net about two weeks ago when the inevitable question was posted to coach Joel Quenneville: was this shaping up to be another goalie controversy?

He was having none of it.

We like the situation where both guys are playing well and were comfortable with the decision of whos playing in net every given night, he said.

Quenneville just may be getting that.

Emery was stellar in his five-game starting stretch, leading the Blackhawks to a plethora of points. And Corey Crawford, who returned to the net Wednesday night, looked like the practice had paid off.

Having two goalies playing well? Thats not a controversy folks, thats a pretty damn nice setup.

Now its understandable why the conversation came about earlier this month. After all, the Blackhawks have been here before: Guy named No. 1 goalie. No. 1 goalie doesnt look so hot. No. 2 goalie usurps No. 1 goalie, becomes new No. 1 goalie.

But this isnt the past few seasons. Its definitely not last season. Marty Turco entered Chicago having some brilliant seasons with the Dallas Stars, but his last season or two in Dallas werent so glowing. And his game continued to dissipate in his one and only season with Chicago. So there was Crawford: young and ready to take over.

Crawford is still the No. 1 guy and, if the Blackhawks go on a playoff run, it will be with Crawford between the pipes. Emery said it best recently:

You dont necessarily want your guy playing 65, 70 games a year. If Crows fresher come playoff time its better for the team. Maybe thats what my contribution can be to a successful playoff team is having a fresh goalie or a guy who has had some rest throughout the year.

And Emerys contribution this month should be lauded. He was not the shaky goaltender we saw vying for the backup job in September. Emery was big as Quenneville likes to say and reliable in his starts. There was no pressure to rush Crawford back.

Crawford looked more Crawford-like on Wednesday, and should ride that confidence into the post-Christmas schedule. Emery has the same feeling in his game, as evidence by his two-week stint.

The Blackhawks may just have a great two-goaltender tandem on their hands. Quenneville will take it.

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: