Blackhawks

Blackhawks: Scott Darling gets the start in Game 3

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Blackhawks: Scott Darling gets the start in Game 3

Scott Darling’s 42-stop performance in Game 1 earned him plenty of praise and accolades for an incredible relief performance.

That outing, coupled with another rough one from CoreyCrawford, have now earned Darling his first NHL postseason start.

Coach Joel Quenneville said he’ll go with Darling when the Blackhawks host the Nashville Predators in Game 3 of their first-round series at 2 p.m. Sunday.

“We’re going with Darling on performance,” Quenneville said via conference call on Saturday afternoon. “Obviously it’s a tough choice, knowing both had consideration. Scotty’s coming off a spectacular outing and his play is deserving of a start at home. He deserves it based on how we’ll he’s played.”

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Darling came in to start the second period in Game 1 after Crawford allowed three goals on 12 shots in the first period that night. He was stellar, making many critical stops while the Blackhawks rallied for a 4-3 double-overtime victory.

Still, Quenneville said choosing Crawford for Game 2 was an easy decision. Crawford got the Blackhawks through some big games this season, especially when Patrick Kane first went down with a fractured clavicle. ButCrawford struggled, in Game 2 more than in Game 1, leading to this choice. Quenneville said after Game 2 that, “we’ll do what gives us our best chance,” so Darling gets the chance.

Darling, speaking prior to Game 2 in Nashville, said he understood why he didn’t play Game 2.

“At the end of the day it’s about winning games and the coaching staff knows a little bit more about winning than I do,” he said. “There’s always a want to start. I’m just thrilled to be a part of it, happy I got any minutes at all.”

It’s been a postseason about-face for Crawford, who ended the regular season with a 2.27 goals-against average and a .924 save percentage (sixth best in the NHL). But Crawford, coupled with a defense that’s still giving up way too much, struggled in Game 2. He allowed six goals on 35 shots.

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Goaltending coach Jimmy Waite told Crawford he isn’t starting on Sunday. Quenneville said will talk to Crawford face to face tomorrow.

“I would expect crow to handle it like a pro,” Quenneville said. “I think he’d be understanding, knowing you have competitive instinct and want to be there. I’m sure he’s probably not happy but can’t say exactly how he handled it.”

Quenneville said he’ll continue to monitor the goaltending on a game-by-game basis. Darling is the Blackhawks goaltender right now. It’s a tremendous opportunity but his work in Game 1 earned it for him.

“When you go to these tough decisions and weigh them, you look at long term. It’s not like [Crawford] is never going to play again. He’s a big part of the team,” Quenneville said. “Things change instantly in our game. Here we are with a chance at a different decision for Game 3. That’s the business we’re in. It’s performance driven a lot of times this one is strictly because Scott’s played outstanding in the series and it’s been the differential.”

Recently retired Kris Versteeg to be honored before Blackhawks game

Recently retired Kris Versteeg to be honored before Blackhawks game

Kris Versteeg recently retired and now the Blackhawks are honoring him with the team’s “One More Shift.”

Versteeg began the season with the Blackhawks’ AHL affiliate, the Rockford IceHogs, but retired in November after playing six games for the IceHogs this season.

The 33-year-old wrote an emotional letter to the Blackhawks organization after requesting his contract with Rockford be terminated.

Versteeg will be honored before Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Wild. He will join the team on the ice for the national anthem and highlights of his career will be featured in the United Center.

Versteeg won two Stanley Cups with the Blackhawks, in 2010 and 2015. He is part of the Blackhawks celebrating the 10-year anniversary of that 2010 Cup win. Brian Campbell was given the same treatment on Nov. 21.

The first 10,000 fans into the UC can get replicas of the 2010 ring.

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Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane visit recovering Chicagoland hockey player for the holidays

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USA Today

Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane visit recovering Chicagoland hockey player for the holidays

Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane recently surprised recovering hockey player Payton Bruns in the hospital, spreading some cheer across Chicagoland this holiday season. The players spent time with Bruns and his family talking hockey and his recovery.

“I had no clue that they were coming,” Bruns told the camera.

Bruns cited Kane as one of his favorite players, making this moment even sweeter.

You can watch the heartwarming video here.

Bruns, a senior at Lincoln-Way East High School in Frankfort, broke two of his vertebrae sliding into the boards while chasing down a loose puck this past September. He was rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery and has since been recovering and doing physical therapy at the Shirley Ryan Ability Lab in Chicago.  

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