Blackhawks

Blackhawks riding with Scott Darling in Game 4 vs. Predators

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Blackhawks riding with Scott Darling in Game 4 vs. Predators

Scott Darling has led the Blackhawks to victories in two of their last three games vs. the Nashville Predators. So it comes as no surprise that he’ll get the nod in Game 4.

Darling will start on Tuesday when the Blackhawks host the Predators in Game 4 of their first-round series. The Blackhawks have a 2-1 lead in the series thus far, with Darling collecting both victories (the first in relief, the second as the starter).

[MORE: Five Things from Hawks-Preds Game 3 - Darling stays hot]

Coach Joel Quenneville said after Game 2 that it was tough to make the change to Darling, given the fact that Corey Crawford has guided this team, and done it well, throughout the season. But with his second postseason victory, Darling is making the decision process easier.

“It’s tough to make a change when you like everything about his game and he’s played so well and is very deserving,” Quenneville said of Darling. “It was an easy choice.”

Darling takes this start as he has every other one he’s gotten.

“I’m just happy it’s been going well so far and we’re getting wins,” Darling said. “I’m just happy to be a part of it.”

[NBC SPORTS SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Corey Crawford, meanwhile, was practicing with a few other Blackhawks at Johnny’s IceHouse West. He’s understandably frustrated with how he started the postseason, and the competitor in him wants to be back in the net. At the same time he can appreciate what Darling has done and how far he’s come in his career.

“He’s an awesome guy,” Crawford said. “He’s gone through a lot to get here and he’s been playing awesome. How can you not feel good for him? I have to encourage him, keep pushing him to be his best.”

UPDATES

— Asked if there would be any lineup changes for Game 4, Quenneville said, “we’ll see.”

— Quenneville was happy with the outing of Antoine Vermette, who played in his first postseason game with the Blackhawks after being scratched the first two. “I think he did a good job catching up to Game 3 pace is a challenge and I thought he did well,” Quenneville said.

— Daniel Carcillo (upper body) skated with several Blackhawks today at Johnny’s. “He looks like he’s on the path where he could be an option,” Quenneville said.

Blackhawks assign Anton Forsberg to Rockford after clearing waivers

Blackhawks assign Anton Forsberg to Rockford after clearing waivers

Anton Forsberg cleared waivers on Tuesday morning and was assigned to the Rockford IceHogs in the American Hockey League.

That's good news for the Blackhawks organizational depth chart, with Forsberg as the No. 3 in goal. But it also complicates things in Rockford, where Collin Delia and Kevin Lankinen have been sharing the duties.

Delia is 3-1-0 with a 3.26 goals against average and .910 save percentage while Lankinen is 0-1-1 with a 3.39 GAA and .825 save percentage. Perhaps the most likely scenario is Lankinen gets sent to the ECHL with the Indy Fuel while Delia and Forsberg split the load in Rockford.

It's certainly a good problem to have, but it's still unclear how that dynamic will play out.

"We haven’t talked about that," coach Joel Quenneville said. "But we expect [Forsberg] to play."

Luke Johnson recalled

With a spot opening up on the 23-man roster, Johnson is being brought back up after he was squeezed out by Corey Crawford's return. He had a goal and an assist in two games with Rockford.

Brandon Saad returns to top-six role

After turning in arguably his best performance of the season on Sunday, Saad is back playing on the second line with Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane. He had seven shot attempts (three on goal) against Tampa Bay and led the team in 5-on-5 possession numbers.

"[Saad] is coming off a game where we liked what we saw," Quenneville said. "Playing with Kaner can help him get going."

Nick Schmaltz to play right side for first time in NHL career

Eight games into the season and Schmaltz has spent time at both center and left wing. Now he'll get a look on the right side with Alexandre Fortin on the left and David Kampf centering the third line.

Part of the reason for Schmaltz’s move to the right side was because Quenneville said they like Fortin on the left. It's not unfamiliar territory for Schmaltz, but could take some time getting used to.

"I played a little while back, not sure when," Schmaltz said "Just a little bit different. Catching pucks on your forehand now instead of your backhand. It's not a huge adjustment, just play with speed and compete hard and hopefully the skill on our line will take over."

Evaluating Blackhawks options after Anton Forsberg is placed on waivers

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AP

Evaluating Blackhawks options after Anton Forsberg is placed on waivers

The Blackhawks have said all along that they don't plan on carrying three goaltenders, but wanted to do so during the three games in four days stretch just in case, with Corey Crawford coming back from a 10-month layoff because of a concussion.

After being encouraged by how Crawford has responded to his return, the Blackhawks placed goaltender Anton Forsberg on waivers Monday morning. Teams have 24 hours to put in a claim for the 25-year-old goaltender and would have to keep him on their NHL roster for 10 games and/or 30 days before he's eligible to go through the waiver process again.

His chances of getting claimed by any of the other 30 teams essentially depends on which teams believe Forsberg would be an immediate upgrade over their current backup — or starter, for that matter — or whether there's an injury to one of the team's two goaltenders that requires a placeholder, like we saw the Carolina Hurricanes do by claiming Curtis McElhinney from the Toronto Maple Leafs after Scott Darling's injury in the preseason.

If Forsberg goes unclaimed, the Blackhawks can assign him to the American Hockey League with the Rockford IceHogs. With Collin Delia and Kevin Lankinen sharing the goaltending duties in Rockford, it's possible Lankinen gets sent to the Indy Fuel in the ECHL to get consistent starts under his belt.

A third option, one that isn't very common but we've seen in the past as recently as last October with Maple Leafs goaltender Kasimir Kaskisuo, is that Forsberg can be loaned to any AHL team while still being a part of the Blackhawks organization. This would allow the Blackhawks to keep Delia and Lankinen in Rockford while Forsberg gets his starts in the AHL, too.

Or, the Blackhawks could simply trade Forsberg to another NHL team that could stash him in the AHL, as long as he clears waivers. They did it last season with Chris DiDomenico, who cleared waivers as a member of the Ottawa Senators but was then traded to Chicago for Ville Pokka days later. Had DiDomenico been claimed by the Blackhawks, he would have had to stay on the NHL roster as noted above.

Forsberg was 10-16-4 with a 2.97 goals against average and .908 save percentage in 35 appearances last season but has not appeared in a game yet this year. He was acquired as part of the Brandon Saad package for Artemi Panarin in June 2017.