CHICAGO _ Flyers goalie Ray Emery downplayed his return to Chicago for the first time since he starred for the Blackhawks during their magical run to the Stanley Cup last season.
“I stay in touch with the guys. Obviously I had a good season last year, but a game is a game,” said Emery, who is scheduled to start against his former teammates on Wednesday. “You just want to focus on the game.”
A year ago, Emery went 17-1, became the first goalie in NHL history to win his first 12 starts in a season, and finished with the league’s third-best goals-against average (1.94). If not for a late-season groin injury, it may have been Emery, not Corey Crawford, who was the No. 1 goalie during the playoffs.
As it turned out, Crawford played so well that, by the time Emery was healthy, there was no reason to use him. Emery didn’t play in any post-season games.
Emery, 31, who signed with the Flyers as a free-agent in the off-season and is now Steve Mason’s understudy, went with his former teammates to the White House last month for a ceremony with President Obama, honoring the champs.
“You appreciate the year, especially with a championship season, but we kind of had time to celebrate during the summer,” Emery said, “and so I’m kind of past that and just want to do well here.”
Emery, however, said he has a special bond with the players from that Cup-winning team.
“I definitely do. I went to a bunch of the guys’ weddings there,” he said. “The age group that the guys are at, a lot of the guys are kind of on the same page as far as their lives are going, so I definitely felt that.”
The Flyers will have a daunting task _ trying to end their grueling six-game, 13-day road trip with a winning record.
To do that, they would have to beat a Blackhawks team that went into Tuesday with the NHL’s best record.
The Flyers are 2-2-1 on the trip after Monday’s 5-4 shootout loss in Ottawa. They have lost two straight, including a 5-1 defeat in Dallas on Saturday, and they have allowed two many odd-man rushes and quality scoring chances in the last two games.
If they are going to surprise the Blackhawks, they need to tighten their defense in front of Emery (2.57 GAA, .908 save percentage), who has a 1.45 goals-against average in his last seven appearances since Nov. 1.
Breakaways. Mistake-prone defenseman Mark Streit, who signed a four-year, $21 million deal in the off-season, continues to struggles. Streit, who turns 36 on Wednesday, was minus-3 in the shootout loss in Ottawa….Winger Tye McGinn, recalled from the Phantoms on Monday, is expected to replace Jay Rosehill in the lineup Wednesday…..Chicago is 10-2-4 at home, while the Flyers are 6-7-3 on the road….After a hot start, Brayden Schenn has just one goal in his last 12 games….With the cap expected to rise next year to $71 million, up from $64.3 million, the Flyers are expected to begin negotiations with Mason, a potential restricted free agent, in early January.
Follow Sam Carchidi on Twitter @BroadStBull.