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Emery to make Blackhawks debut vs. Jets

Thursday, 10.13.2011 / 2:40 PM / NHL Insider

By Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent

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Emery to make Blackhawks debut vs. Jets
Corey Crawford is healthy, but the Blackhawks will start Ray Emery in net tonight when the Winnipeg Jets visit the United Center.
CHICAGO -- Corey Crawford dealt with a reported minor groin pull toward the end of preseason, but the Chicago Blackhawks starting goalie said that's not the reason he'll be the backup Thursday against the Winnipeg Jets (8:40 p.m. ET, TSN).

Instead, veteran free-agent pickup Ray Emery -- who made the team on a training camp tryout offer -- will start for the Hawks in the return of former Chicago stars Dustin Byfuglien and Andrew Ladd.

"I feel 100 percent, so I'm ready to go now," said Crawford, who missed the first two days of practice this week to rest. "I like to play. I like getting ice time and playing. I'm not disappointed. I'll just be ready for the next game."

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Crawford, who started both ends of the Hawks' home-and-home series with the Dallas Stars last weekend, missed practices Monday and Tuesday while resting an injury that he said was not related to the tweaked groin.

He practiced Wednesday and during Thursday's morning skate, but the Hawks say his off day is just an effort to get Emery some regular-season work and nothing to be concerned about.

"Corey's ready to go," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. "We just want to get Ray playing. He's been here and we want to get him started. (Crawford has) played so many games in a row (in the past) and it's nice to get the other guy involved and we're happy to get him his first start here at home, as well."

Emery missed Wednesday's practice with what Quenneville called the flu, but went through the game-day skate Thursday with no apparent lingering issues. The Hawks called up rookie Alexander Salak from Rockford of the American Hockey League on Wednesday to take Emery's place in practice, but then sent him back Thursday, after it was apparent Emery was healthy.

"We wanted to make sure that (Emery) was able to go today," Quenneville said. "(Wednesday) he felt better, so he's playing."

Emery, 29, made an impressive comeback from career-threatening hip surgery last season to play 10 regular-season and six playoff games for the Anaheim Ducks. His play was critical to the Ducks' late-season push for a playoff spot.

Now getting a chance to play for the Hawks for the first time, he's just trying to keep himself grounded and put on a good performance in front of what likely will be a packed United Center.

"There's a certain checklist I go through when it comes to playing a game, so I just go through that and try to be solid in there and limit mistakes," Emery said. "I'm not trying to do everything in there. I'm just trying to make the saves that I need to make."
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