In sports, stability is a key component of successful franchises. Yet, somehow, ever since 1994-95, when the Flyers returned to prominence, we have seen the starting goalie change on a consistent basis. I may be missing a few, but since that time we’ve had Ron Hextall, Dominic Roussel, Garth Snow, Sean Burke, John Vanbiesbrouck, Roman Cechmanek, Robert Esche, Antero Niittymaki, Jeff Hacket, and Martin Biron. Now, we have Ray Emery. He had great numbers and a winning record in Ottawa, and of course a Cup Finals appearance.
His off the ice issues lead to a stint in Russia, where he had a nice 22-8-0 record and a .926 Save percentage. Knowing all of this, I was actually pretty excited about him coming to Philly. I figured that if he kept out of trouble off of the ice, that he would be an upgrade over Biron and all of his rebounds left in the slot. My impression so far: mixed. He’s not a bust, he is an improvement, but he’s not playing like the top shelf goalie necessary for a deep playoff run. His numbers are mid-range, but there is more to him than that. Just looking at his style of play, something is not right with him. He seems to be in position, seeing the puck well, and yet, consistently gives up soft goals. Every few games, there seems to be a puck getting past him through some hole that no tv camera can even find. Lucky for him, the Flyers do have a pretty solid defense core. Maybe they can cover up some of his flaws with solid play, and maybe the offense can generate enough goals that a few bads ones against won’t hurt us. However, as the season creeps along, goaltending becomes more important, and Ray Emery has to step up and prove that he belongs in the NHL, and must prove to the Flyer faithful that he is the goalie that we can win with. Almost all of the key players have playoff experience. The last two playoffs runs ended because the Flyers could not win close games, and Pittsburgh goaltending was far superior. Let’s see if Ray Emery continues to play like an average goalie, or if he can step his game up and add something to a team that has some real talent and Stanley Cup potential.