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Blackhawks confident in Crawford for Game 5

by Brian Hedger / Chicago Blackhawks
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CHICAGO -- The answer, in case anybody's wondering, is that Ray Emery will not start in goal for the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Boston Bruins on Saturday at United Center (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, RDS).

Barring an unforeseen injury to Corey Crawford in practice Friday or during Saturday's morning skate, Emery will remain on the bench for the next chapter of what's already been a memorable Final.

Crawford, who allowed five goals in Chicago's 6-5 overtime win Wednesday that evened the best-of-7 series 2-2, will instead get a shot at redemption, something he's done a couple of times already this season following tough games.

Joel Quenneville was asked Thursday if he'd even consider starting Emery, who went 17-1-0 in the regular season, and the Blackhawks coach squashed the notion quickly.

"No, not at all," Quenneville said. "No, we're very comfortable with Corey. Corey has been rock solid all year for us, and when he's got the [start], he's been outstanding, and he's the biggest reason why we're here [right now]."

Crawford appears to have a particular area of the net he's struggling to cover. Specifically, it's his glove side, and it doesn't matter if that happens to be to the wide side or the short side of the net.

The Bruins are aiming a lot of shots in that direction. In fact, 10 of Boston's 12 goals in the series sailed over, under or just outside Crawford's glove.

"[A] few goals were on the glove-side there," Bruins forward Brad Marchand said Thursday. "There’s a ton of really nice opportunities we had there that he saved on the glove side as well some lucky shots."

It's no secret to anybody at this point, including Crawford, who spoke with reporters after Game 4 but not on Thursday.

"It's pretty obvious," he said Wednesday. "I can't start thinking about it. That's when I get myself in trouble, if I start thinking about that. I'm just going to keep playing my game, prepare the way I have and play the way I play. I can't start thinking, 'They're going to go glove every time.' If they end up switching it up, then I'm in trouble."

Quenneville and the rest of the Blackhawks sound confident the issue will get corrected before the end of the series. They're basing their opinions on firsthand knowledge, after watching Crawford bounce back several times this season from goals even he said should've been stopped.

"You know, last night's game was one of those games where pucks were going in," Quenneville said. "We'll visit with that, but all year long Corey has just moved on and he just moves from save to save and it doesn't faze him. I'm sure he'll be excited about getting back in there and get a good practice under our belt in the morning skate, and he'll be back to doing his thing."

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews concurred and said Crawford's teammates will try to be better defensively in Game 5, particularly blocking long-range shots from the high slot, points and tops of the circles.

"He's had that maturity and that character all year that he's been able to bounce back," Toews said of Crawford. "But to be honest with you, I don't really see anything terribly wrong with the way he played [Wednesday] night. Maybe some of the shots from far out that went in overshadowed some of the stops that he did make, and for the most part I think as forwards we can maybe be a little more responsible and getting in shooting lanes the way they would against us …

"I think there's something to be said about blocking shots and maybe helping our goaltender out a little bit more. I'm not too worried about how he's going to play in the next game."

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