Ray Emery has been through a lot since the last time he suited up for the Flyers.
But it’s last year with the Chicago Blackhawks -- by all means a very successful season -- that might have prepared him best of all for what lies ahead in Philadelphia.
While in Chicago, Emery split netminding duties with Corey Crawford, the goaltender who eventually carried the Blackhawks through the postseason and all the way to the Stanley Cup. Emery not only excelled in net when called upon, but helped support his teammate both in practices and during games.
“I was really rooting for him when he was in the net, and I got a sense when he was rooting for me when I was in the net,” Emery said. “I got a good feeling -- kind of a contagious thing around the team as well, guys want to do well for each other.”
The setup will be similar with his new team. Like in Chicago, Emery wasn’t brought here to be the team’s No. 1 goalie. Instead, he’ll be splitting duties with Steve Mason, the young goaltender the Flyers acquired at least season’s trade deadline.
Just as he did last year, Emery will be competing against his teammate for every start he earns. But instead of looking at it as a negative thing, he knows the goalie battle will push both he and Mason to work even harder. He'll be looking to improve upon his already impressive 1.94 goals-against average and 17-1 record from 2012-13.
“It’s a healthy competition, I guess you could say,” Emery said. “Both guys want to obviously play as much as they can, but I think the team benefits when it’s a situation where guys are helping each other out as well and really feeding off of each other more than competing against each other.
“I look forward to just winning games as a team, whether it’s Steve or I in there, everyone’s going to benefit if the team does well and puts victories up there.”
Emery and Mason have been in touch since the Flyers signed Emery to a one-year, $1.75 million deal this summer. The two goaltenders are already growing comfortable around each other, something necessary for the tandem to work itself out. It's been eight years since the Flyers started a season in which the No. 1 spot was entirely up for grabs.
“It’s great,” Emery said. “It’s good to have someone to kind of relate to, someone that’s in the same boat as you, and to be on the same page as them and have a relationship coming in. It’s good. I think it’s good for the team, it’s good for a good working environment.”
By all accounts, the Flyers who will skate in front of Emery feel comfortable and confident with the team’s situation in net. Whether it's Emery who earns the bulk of the work or Mason, the Flyers are excited about what lies ahead this year and believe the goalie duo sets them up to succeed.
Emery completely understands that mentality.
“They want to win games however they can,” he said. “Personally, I want to win every game I get in. I want to have the best camp I can to be ready when the season comes, and I’m sure Steve does as well. Sometimes it’s just how it shakes down when it gets down to things.
"It’s definitely a healthy situation, I think.”