Emery posts another shutout in efficient win over the Wild - FOX 32 News Chicago

Emery posts another shutout in efficient win over the Wild

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Ray Emery picked up his third shutout in his last five games and the Blackhawks recorded their 30th win by defeating Minnesota 1-0.

This was a very efficient effort by the Hawks but they had a few missteps early in the third period. Emery wasn't tested often but he was solid and stood tall when there was a lack of focus by his teammates. For the most part the Wild chased the Hawks and couldn't sustain much pressure.

It's not easy to score in the NHL, especially so when there isn't any power play success. It took an awful turnover by defenseman Clayton Stoner which led to a low hard slap shot from the top of the slot by Marian Hossa. That was all the scoring as the Blackhawks continue to play with a purpose.

Patrick Sharp returned after missing 14 games with a shoulder injury. Sharp looked good and was credited with five shots on goal. Sharp's five shots were the most by any player in the game except for Jonathan Toews who matched the same total.

Without Sharp, the Chicago power play has gone cold and even with him in the lineup the Hawks were 0-2 with the man advantage. What has saved the day is some outstanding penalty killing. The PK unit has gone on a long successful run dating back to a March 16 game versus Dallas.

Team defense has carried them throughout this season and over the last eight games the Blackhawks have allowed only 11 goals.

On the season the Hawks have allowed 83 goals, the least in the Western Conference. Only the Boston Bruins have allowed fewer goals against (81), but they have played one less game.

It's been quite a season so far and the United Center will be rocking on Friday night. The Red Wings will be in town and they can't afford many missteps. Detroit sits in eighth place in the Western Conference but only two points ahead of Columbus and Dallas.

If the playoffs began today the Blackhawks would square off with their longtime rival Red Wings.

Al's Shots

With nine games remaining I don't see a goaltender controversy, yet.

There is no doubt Emery has had an outstanding season. Corey Crawford has been about as good and has a longer resume.

Now Joel Quenneville is an interesting spot.

Does Coach Q. start Crawford versus the Red Wings even though Emery is coming off a shutout?

The way the remainder of the schedule looks Quenneville could play Crawford for six or seven of the nine remaining starts, but Emery is red hot. My guess was one of those six or seven games would be against the Red Wings, but we will see.

I was expecting Crawford to play in Minnesota but maybe goaltender coach Stephane Waite felt it was best to give him until Friday to rest and practice. Crawford has had a bit of trouble of late and hasn't looked as sharp. Now Crawford may have to sit until Sunday in St. Louis, and his last start was back on April 4 versus the Blues.

As it is, the Blackhawks are in the hunt along with Boston to capture the Jennings Trophy. It would be a great accomplishment for Crawford and Emery to come away with the award for the duo with the fewest goals against in the NHL.

To take it a step further, winning the Jennings would be a remarkable achievement for a team that was thought of in the past as an offense first, defense maybe club.

The beauty of sports is the unexpected.

Crawford was much maligned after last year's playoff loss to Phoenix and his consistency this season has been special. Emery was out of the NHL not too long ago and his recovery from serious hip surgery has been incredible.

I'm not nearly as shocked with Crawford's rebound this season as with the outstanding campaign Emery has put together.

I will be back on Saturday morning and you can follow me on twitter @AlCimaglia.

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