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.