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


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

Goaltender is a pressure-packed position. You have to have thick skin and a short memory. Keeping the nerves in check also helps.

Scott Darling has had a lot thrown at him in his brief NHL career. From goaltender waiting in the wings to Blackhawks backup to (at least at the moment) postseason starter, Darling has handled it all beautifully. That includes Sunday, when Darling got his first NHL postseason start and won, stopping 35 of 37 shots in the Blackhawks’ 4-2 victory over the Nashville Predators.

[MORE: Top line shines as Blackhawks down Preds, take 2-1 series lead]

The Blackhawks are up 2-1 in this first-round series, thanks in large part to Darling. So does he start Game 4? Will the Blackhawks keep the momentum going they gained in Game 3? Let’s get to the Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ victory on Sunday.

1. Who’s your goalie? Yes, we’re going to hit on this topic a lot for obvious reasons. Darling’s work in Games 1 and 3 is one of the feel-good stories of the postseason. So does Darling start on Tuesday? Coach Joel Quenneville said he’ll discuss that with his fellow coaches but it’ll be hard to believe Darling doesn’t get the nod. As Quenneville said, “certainly he did everything he could to get himself back in the net.” Right now, it seems like it’s his job to lose. At least, right now, it should be his job.

[MORE: Predators staying confident after Game 3 loss to Blackhawks]

2. Total team effort. Yes, the Blackhawks gave up those two goals right after they scored. But all in all this was one of their best efforts in some time and definitely their best of the postseason. Once Brandon Saad gave the Blackhawks a 3-2 lead they dominated. Three players scored their first goals of the postseason today (Saad, Andrew Desjardins and Brent Seabrook). The Blackhawks kept the Predators to nine third-period shots and kept attacking right to the end of this one.

3. Top line takes advantage. The Predators were without all-everything defenseman Shea Weber, who would draw the top-line assignment if he was not sidelined with a lower-body injury. Saad, Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa exploited that loss, as that trio combined for two goals and three assists. Yes, the Predators still have some fine defensemen. But Weber does so much and plays so much that the Blackhawks had to take advantage of his absence. They did.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

4. Nice debut for Desjardins. Quenneville wanted to change his lineup after Game 2, and installing Desjardins on the fourth line was a great idea. Desjardins, who played well on that line when Joakim Nordstrom was suspended and later injured, scored his first postseason goal since April of 2012. He was energetic and he wasn’t afraid to take shots if they were there. Desjardins finished with four shots on goal, the second highest total of any of the Blackhawks.

5. One more on Hossa. Hey, we have to break out some extra space for Hossa because he was great on Sunday. His game seemed to get better as the postseason neared, and he was all over the place on Sunday, doing everything but score a goal. Hossa had a team-high six shots on goal and two takeaways. Said Saad, “As a team we came out with an extra gear there and Hossa, obviously he’s a special player and he dominated the game.”

SportsTalk Live Podcast: The Blackhawks' big win over the Capitals


SportsTalk Live Podcast: The Blackhawks' big win over the Capitals

David Haugh, Jason Goff and Jordan Bernfield join David Kaplan on the panel.

0:00- Pat Boyle and Patrick Sharp drop by to talk about the Blackhawks' big win over the Capitals. Plus, Sharpie talks about the young Hawks who will be stars in the future.

12:00- Super Bowl LIII is set after a dramatic and controversial Championship Sunday. Does the NFL need to expand instant replay to include pass interference after a no-call cost the Saints a Super Bowl bid? Plus does the league need to change its overtime format after Patrick Mahomes didn't get to touch the ball at the end of the AFC title game?

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Sports Talk Live Podcast


Blackhawks notebook: Kane-Toews chemistry, Seabrook's contract, Crawford update and Smith's role


Blackhawks notebook: Kane-Toews chemistry, Seabrook's contract, Crawford update and Smith's role

It's no surprise that Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews each had offensive explosions after getting put on the same line together on Sunday against the defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals. But at the same time it was.

The duo played 273:28 minutes at even strength together last season, according to, but had a minus-6 goal differential during that time. It was bizarre because they controlled 56.9 percent of the shot attempts and 60.5 percent of the high-danger chances.

Perhaps the hockey gods are repaying them for what they deserved a year ago. Or those are the results you're eventually going to get when you put two future Hall of Famers on the ice at the same time.

“For an offensive guy that wants the puck, he’s pretty much the perfect center to play with," Kane said. "He wins a lot of battles, he wins faceoffs, he’s obviously able to make plays and he can get to the hard areas, too, so he opens up a lot of space. We haven’t played with each other a lot over the past handful of years, but we played a lot together early on, so I think sometimes we just kind of revert back to what we did back then. It makes the game simple. It’s not like you have to think too much or even talk too much about what we want to do. We just want to work hard, win battles and play well defensively. If we do that, we should get a lot of chances.”

Toews turned the clock back before he and Kane were even in the NHL.

"I remember since we were like 12 or 13 playing against each other in Triple-A hockey, he was one of the smallest guys out there and he just seemed to be able to handle the puck so well even at that age," Toews said of Kane. "He could back defenders off and create time and space. He was tough to check because he was slippery and he was just deceptive. I think that's what sets him above everybody else in the league and most star players that maybe can take advantage of skating, size and speed where he doesn't really need any of those things. He's so smart when he gets the puck."

Whether or not they stay together for the long term remains to be seen, but the when Nos. 19 and 88 are clicking, usually the Blackhawks are too.

Brent Seabrook's contract

It's no secret in Chicago that Seabrook's contract sticks out as one that won't exactly age well for the Blackhawks under a salary cap system. At age 33, he's in Year 3 of an eight-year deal that carries a $6.875 million cap hit. 

While his best years on the ice may be behind him, his teammates believe Seabrook is still as important as ever inside the locker room and the team unity. Kane came to his defense on Monday after practice in response to a question about the core veterans trying to sustain a winning culture in a trying season.

"People want to get on Seabs about his contract," Kane said. "But to us, he’s underpaid [for] what he brings in this locker room and the way he’s such a great leader, such a big part of this locker room, takes in every guy just like he’s known him his whole life. He’s an unbelievable teammate. Even that game when we missed him when he was sick, you lose your heart and soul of the team a little bit because he’s such a big piece."

Corey Crawford update

Jeremy Colliton's playing career was cut short because of his concussion history. He knows exactly what Crawford is going through, which means he knows how to handle his situation from a coach's perspective.

Crawford skated with the team for the first time over the weekend, but Colliton cautioned not to read anything into it. He didn't provide much more information than that.

On Monday, Colliton offered a longer-form response on why he's been mum about Crawford's status:

"Him going on the ice, I said it two days ago, not to read too much into it. It’s going to be a process here. The day-to-day, it doesn’t really matter. It’s over time. Is he feeling better? Is he progressing? I’m not in his ear, 'How are you feeling?', asking [head athletic trainer Mike Gapski], 'How’s Crow feeling?' It doesn’t help me, it doesn’t help him and minute-to-minute, it doesn’t matter. It’s over time, how does he feel, is he getting better? Did I talk to him today? Yeah I talked to him today. But I didn’t ask him how he was feeling. Because day to day, it’s a non-issue. I just want him to be happy and over time, feel better. And then we’ll see if he can play at the end of that."

Barry Smith's role

When Blackhawks practiced wrapped up on Monday, Smith addressed the team in a huddle, got a stick tap ovation and received a handshake from every player. This was his last practice as the assistant coach, and Tuesday vs. the New York Islanders will be his last game behind the bench before Sheldon Brookbank officially takes full control of those responsibilities along with Don Granato.

After Tuesday, Smith will transition back into his role with the Blackhawks as Director of Player Evaluation.

"Certainly his experience and just his presence," Colliton said on what Smith brought to the table. "Great guy, very, very fun to be around. I knew him from last year, he’d been around Rockford. We were a little bit shorthanded and he left his wife and his previous life, lived in a hotel for two and a half months and was a great resource for me and the staff, and really appreciate that. He’s been through the wars already, so for him to come back into it was very selfless of him, I thought."

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