Emery couldn't play better, carries Blackhawks to 3-2 SO victory - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Emery couldn't play better, carries Hawks to 3-2 SO victory

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

There is no doubt the Chicago Blackhawks deserved to lose in Calgary on Saturday night but Ray Emery didn't. In the finest game I have seen Emery play, he carried his teammates and wouldn't be denied. When the lights went out in the Scotiabank Saddledome, the Hawks were a 3-2 shootout winner.

It probably had to do with fatigue, combined with taking their opponent lightly, but the Blackhawks could not have played sloppier if they tried.

When Marian Hossa tied the score with three seconds to go in regulation, I tweeted, "Very good players can get away with doing the wrong thing all night if the other team is Calgary." My feelings are still the same as the Hawks could not have picked a better opponent to face while having such an off night.

Over the years I have watched Emery play in Ottawa, Philadelphia, Anaheim, and now Chicago. It would be difficult to believe he has ever played a better game. Many times shots on goal don't paint an accurate picture of the contest. In this case the shot totals of 47 for Calgary and 19 for Chicago is a perfect depiction of how bad the Hawks were outplayed.

To take it a step further, Calgary not only dominated but they have only themselves to blame. As good as Emery was the Flames missed a wide open net many times.

The Blackhawks were credited with 26 blocked shots and Calgary misfired 14 times, which would include hitting the post on a few occasions. The 47 shots against, combined with blocks and misses, means the Flames fired the puck 87 times. If not for stellar play by Emery and some uncanny luck the Hawks could have lost this game by close to double digits.

Good teams find ways to win even when they don't deserve it, and right now Calgary fans might be happy it is only going to be a 48 game season.

The Flames have been caught between trying to tweak their roster without the benefit of many good drafts. They have an aging team and have not committed to rebuilding. It might be time to swallow hard and bottom out while trying to accumulate low round draft picks. So much for Calgary, the Blackhawks are built to win now and need to find their best stride soon or the current road trip will end poorly.

It is a good time for the Hawks to take a couple of days off. Actually they will have Sunday off and most likely will practice on Monday before facing San Jose Tuesday night. Joel Quenneville hasn't had much time to work with his group and some bad habits have shown up.

Patrick Kane would have been the goat on the Flames second goal. Kane has a habit of doing too much and he turned the puck over at the Calgary blueline which led to what looked like the game winner. To Kane's credit, he has been more consistent than any forward except for Hossa. That said, better puck management is needed by Kane and many others.

Besides Emery, my vote for the best Blackhawk goes to Johnny Oduya. He was strong defensively and was credited with six blocks which was a game high. Oduya had three shots on goal but his best play was on the assist to Hossa that tied the score at two.

The Blackhawks penalty killing unit has been superb thus far this season. The Flames did manage to score a goal with the man advantage but that was only the second time this year the PK unit failed. While being shorthanded 36 times, the Blackhawks have allowed only two goals, good for 94.4%.

All praise has to go to Emery who endured facing 24 shots in the third period alone and followed that with three stops in OT. Emery wasn't done as he was perfect in the shootout, stopping all three Calgary shooters. It would have been very difficult for Corey Crawford to play any better.

The good news is the Blackhawks stole two points and Emery was unbelievably better than in his other start this season. I would like to think nothing can surprise me when it comes to the Blackhawks but Emery's performance was hard to believe.

Al's Shots

Dave Bolland did not dress and word going around is he has an ankle injury that is supposedly not too serious. That might be good news compared to a knee injury as long as it is not a high ankle sprain, those can take a long time to heal.

Saturday night, all centers moved up a line. Andrew Shaw took Bolland's place and was alright.

Marcus Kruger played on the third line and had his poorest game this season. Kruger was good on the penalty kill but made numerous mental mistakes and was an ugly 18% at the faceoff dot. It isn't easy to win faceoffs in the NHL but it is hard to believe Kruger couldn't manage more than three wins in 17 attempts.

Jamal Mayers dressed and played only 6:53.

The Hawks could shuffle the deck and move Kane to center. They could also stick to what they have and play on until Bolland returns.

If past history is any indication, the last option will be to promote Ice Hog center Brandon Pirri. The whispers I heard last year, when Pirri didn't get a call-up despite many Hawk injuries and while having a good season, was he wasn't a Coach Q. favorite. For whatever reason, Pirri hasn't been able to obtain a get out of Rockford card for even a brief audition in Chicago.

The Hawks will have to bring their best effort when then they face the red hot San Jose Sharks on Tuesday. In eight games, the Sharks have notched 15 of a possible 16 points.

There should be a few hard feelings left over from last season. Jonathan Toews missed considerable time with a concussion and the injury is believed to have happened because of the physical abuse he took while playing the Sharks.

The Hawks won't be facing an opponent that has been looking for ways to lose, so they will need to bring some intensity on Tuesday night. The sluggish starts have to stop.

I will be back on Wednesday morning to share some thoughts.

Follow me on Twitter @AlCimaglia

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