Ray Emery may be the latest goalie to be part of Randy Carlyle’s “1 and 1-A” platoon, but for now he’s the NHL’s second star of the week.
From the league’s official press release:
Emery continued his successful
comeback from hip surgery by posting a 2-0-0 record, 0.99 goals-against
average and .968 save percentage last week, helping the Ducks (40-27-5)
jump to eighth
place in the Western Conference playoff race. Emery stopped 61 of 63
shots, beginning with a 30-save performance in a 2-1 victory over the
St. Louis Blues Mar. 16 — his first NHL start in over a year. He also
recorded 31 saves in backstopping Anaheim to a
2-1 overtime win over the Los Angeles Kings Mar. 19. Emery’s start vs.
St. Louis was his first in the NHL since Feb. 1, 2010 as a member of the
Philadelphia Flyers. He underwent season-ending hip surgery a month
later and became a free agent at the end of
the season. Emery signed with Anaheim on Feb. 7, was recalled from AHL
Syracuse Mar. 7 and made his 2010-11 NHL debut in a relief appearance on
Mar. 13 vs. Phoenix.
Emery played well in Syracuse, too, so his success at the NHL level hasn’t exactly come out of nowhere. Most importantly, he hasn’t had any physical setbacks. The question now is, what becomes of Emery and Dan Ellis once Jonas Hiller is healthy? It’s a good problem to have.
The Ducks also signed free-agent forward Rick Schofield, a rookie fresh off his senior season with Lake Superior State, to a one-year, entry-level deal. The 23-year-old from Pickering, Ontario, led the Lakers with 17 goals and 18 assists in 39 games last season. He tallied 51 goals and 53 assists in 144 games over his four-year career.
Ray Emery is back.
That was the takeaway from his 30-save performance Wednesday that preserved a 2-1 victory in an often ugly game for the Ducks.
Jason Blake scored both Anaheim goals, finishing a second-period breakaway with a backhand shot that went in off a Blues defenseman, and deflecting a Lubomir Visnovsky shot down and in in the third period. But even he was in a deferential mood after Emery’s big breakthrough.
Emery’s reflexes did not look like those of a man who had not started an NHL game since Feb. 1 of last year. Nor did the time off leave him any less feisty — Emery was shoving players out of his own crease before assuming the butterfly position in the blink of an eye. It takes a special athlete to do that under ordinary circumstances, but even more so when you have a piece of bone from your leg lodged in your right hip.
Between Emery and Dan Ellis, the Ducks can breathe a bit easier about Jonas Hiller’s slow recovery time. The goalie told reporters at this morning’s skate that he “is going in the right direction” but still can’t see the puck well enough to play.
With only 12 games left in the season, the Ducks occupy the eighth position in the West but still have Calgary and Nashville nipping at their heels. Both the Flames and Preds play tomorrow, and the Ducks could find themselves back in 10th place after their day off.
But should the Ducks make the playoffs (and should Hiller be healthy by then), they could have three goalies capable of starting Game 1 of a first-round series. It’s a good problem to have, one that seemed unlikely when Curtis McElhinney and Timo Pielmeier were manning the nets.
Get all the game details in tomorrow’s editions. Some notes and observations:
Seeing Ilya Bryzgalov face the Ducks is no longer a novelty. Sunday marked the 22nd start for Bryz against the team that placed him on waivers in Nov. 2007. Statistically, the 30-year-old goalie has had better starts in Anaheim, but the Ducks have rarely looked so frustrated against their former backup goalie.
The biggest reason: Their own goaltending wasn’t so spectacular. Dan Ellis was off, allowing four goals on 21 shots over two periods before giving way to Ray Emery. Emery, making his first start since Feb. 1, 2010, played the entire third period and appeared to be on, stopping all nine shots he faced.
By then it was too late. The Coyotes (36-23-11, 83 points) denied any notions of another third-period comeback by the Ducks (37-37-5, 79 points), and gained a four-point cushion on their rivals with a 5-2 victory.
“They sat back and played a defensive-style game,” Ducks center Todd Marchant said of the third period. “They put the puck around the boards, around the rim quite a bit, chipped it by our defense. We had a tough time in the third sustaining any kind of forecheck. You can point your finger at Bryz. He played really well for them. We put 39 [actually 38] shots on net, a lot of them were point-blank opportunities, and he made some good saves. That’s not an excuse, but it’s a reality of the game.”
J.P. Levasseur’s stint on the Ducks’ bench didn’t last long.
He is heading back to Syracuse, and Ray Emery is on his way back to Anaheim, following the Crunch’s 3-1 win against the Texas Stars earlier today. Emery was named the second star of the game after his 27-save performance. Emery improved to 4-1-0 with a 1.98 goals-against average and .943 save percentage in five games.
The Ducks don’t play back-to-back games until March 19-20, so it’s unclear when Emery will see NHL game action. His AHL days could be over for now, as it doesn’t seem like he has anything left to prove at that level.
Levasseur did not appear in a game, only serving as the backup to Dan Ellis on Saturday.
The Ducks have sent goaltender Ray Emery back to AHL affiliate Syracuse and recalled Jean-Phillippe Levasseur. Emery didn’t appear in a game after he was recalled from Syracuse on Feb. 23, serving as the backup to Curtis McElhinney, then Dan Ellis.
Emery went 2-1-0 with a 2.62 goals-against average and .925 save percentage in three games with the Crunch after the Ducks signed him off the free-agent scrap heap Feb. 7.
Levasseur has a 2.97 GAA, .912 save percentage, and an 8-20-3 record in Syracuse. While poor, his record is more telling of a Crunch team that now ranks dead last in the AHL. Levasseur, who has never appeared in an NHL game, also has four shutouts this season.
The move is probably designed to give Emery more work; the Ducks don’t play back-to-back games until March 19-20 and would not appear to need a backup goalie until then.
The Ducks hope Ray Emery doesn’t have to back up his words with actions. Not yet, at least.
“I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think I was ready to contribute,” Emery said Thursday, following his first NHL practice in more than a year. “If I get a chance, I’m going to try to make the most of it, try to do my best.”
Earlier in the morning, general manager Bob Murray said that Emery would ideally get his next game action in a Syracuse Crunch uniform.
Emery made three starts for the Crunch, going 2-1-0 with 2.62 goals-against average and .925 save percentage, after the Ducks signed him to a two-way contract last week. On Wednesday, he was back on an NHL bench as the back-up to Curtis McElhinney against the Kings. Reading into the situation, Emery will probably back up Dan Ellis tomorrow against the Minnesota Wild.
“I think we have to stick to the game plan with him,” Murray said. “He’s here now, he’s getting shots, he’s getting NHL shooters right now. He’s (working) with (goaltending consultant) Pete Peeters. He’s going to be here, obviously, until Jonas (Hiller) comes back. He’s got to play more games. Hopefully at the end of all this, we have three strong goaltenders that are ready to make a run.”
Well that didn’t take long.
Ray Emery was recalled from AHL affiliate Syracuse and will back up Curtis McElhinney tonight when the Ducks play the Kings. The move seemed inevitable after Emery’s 34-save effort last night for the Syracuse Crunch, his third start in five days after going 12 months without playing a live game.
Emery went 2-1-0 with a 2.62 goals-against average and .925 save percentage with the Crunch. He will wear number 36 with the Ducks.
“We didn’t think it was going to be this quick, but he’s played three hockey games, he’s played really well in them,” Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle told reporters this morning. “If we need him, we’re not afraid to put him in the net.”
Timo Pielmeier, who struggled in his first NHL appearance Saturday in St. Louis, was assigned to Syracuse.
Jonas Hiller, meanwhile, gave an update on his status Wednesday, telling reporters that the latest, most specific diagnosis of his “balance issue” is vertigo.
Ray Emery improved to 2-1 in his first three AHL starts Tuesday, earning the win in the Syracuse Crunch’s 4-3 win over the visiting Charlotte Checkers.
Emery stopped 34 of 37 shots between regulation and overtime, then stopped 3 of 4 in the shootout to preserve the win. Veteran forward Josh Green told the Syracuse Post-Standard after the game that “Ray’s an NHL goalie right now.”
That’s up to the Ducks to decide, and there was no indication at Tuesday’s practice that Emery was in the pool of candidates to start Wednesday night against the Kings. Aside from the logistical constraint of having the goalie fly across the country on short notice, Emery would have to make back-to-back starts for the second time in less than a week after not playing a game in 12 months. Emery already started consecutive games Friday and Saturday – and at least those were in the same time zone.
So the question before the Ducks probably isn’t if Emery will start tomorrow, but rather, is Josh Green right?
Here are the facts on the table: Emery has a 2.62 goals-against average and .925 save percentage to go with his 2-1-0 record. The Wild visit Anaheim on Friday and the Avalanche visit Sunday. The Crunch have home games Friday and Saturday. Jonas Hiller is recuperating from another bout of dizziness, and Curtis McElhinney is recuperating from three bad starts. If neither goalie has resolved his issues come Friday — and if Josh Green is right – it makes sense that Emery would be on his way to Anaheim.
Curtis McElhinney and Timo Pielmeier were the only two goalies on the ice when the Ducks got back to practice Wednesday. No Ray Emery – he is still in Syracuse – and no Jonas Hiller, either.
Hiller is eligible to come off injured reserve prior to Wednesday’s game against the Kings, but that won’t happen. There seem to be mixed signals about just how long Hiller’s return from his latest ailment will take.
Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle sounded cautiously optimistic when he said of Hiller, “when he’s available to go on the ice, I haven’t got a timeframe for that, but we expect that to happen in the next little while. We don’t feel it’s going to be an extended period of time.”
Hiller has only played one full game since he first experienced symptoms of dizziness and light-headedness following the All-Star Game on Jan. 30. Recently, Hiller has been meeting with a therapist to deal with what the team is calling a “treatable balance issue.”
On Tuesday, he worked out off the ice then left Anaheim Ice just before his teammates finished practice. When asked for an update on his condition, the goalie didn’t offer any specifics, saying only that things are “not going the way I’d like them to.”
Still, Carlyle said it’s a “positive sign” that Hiller is being encouraged to work out and stay active, rather than completely refrain from any physical activity.
In a battle of field goals, the Ducks got their rear ends kicked.
The final scoresheet tells the story: The Blues wasted through Curtis McElhinney (11 shots, 7 saves) and Timo Pielmeier (12 shots, 7 saves) — who closed out the final two periods in his NHL debut — with equal fervor.
Goals by Jarkko Ruutu and Teemu Selanne in the game’s first 6:41 gave Anaheim an unmemorable 2-0 lead. The Blues scored four more before the first period was over, interrupted only by a Ryan Getzlaf wrist shot that ended Ty Conklin’s evening. The bleeding continued as Chris Stewart, T.J. Oshie and Andy McDonald all wrapped up two-goal efforts. Alex Steen, Carlo Colaiacovo and David Backes scored one apiece, and backup backstop Ben Bishop (20 shots, 20 saves) was perfect in relief of Conklin (5 shots, 3 goals).
The question now for the Ducks is, who can stop the bleeding?
A backup throughout his four-year NHL career, McElhinney clearly has hit the ceiling in his short time as a starter. In losing three consecutive starts, he’s allowed 16 goals on 68 shots — a miserable .765 save percentage and 6.90 goals-against average. Pielmeier wasn’t much better, though the 21-year-old was probably only viewed as an emergency option when he was recalled earlier in the week from AHL affiliate Syracuse.
Consider this an emergency.