Blackhawks

Scott Darling takes the reins for Blackhawks in Corey Crawford’s absence

Scott Darling takes the reins for Blackhawks in Corey Crawford’s absence

It’s an interesting working life, really, this backup goaltending gig.

Most of the time, you’re in hurry-up-and-wait mode. But now and then something bizarre happens – like the starting goaltender needing an appendectomy on the road – that thrusts you into the No. 1 spot for a time.

Scott Darling has been here, done this before, though, and he did it well. And considering how goaltending has been the backbone of this team’s performance this season, the Blackhawks are confident he can handle the job.

Darling gave the Blackhawks a chance again on Sunday night, his 30-stop performance keeping them within one goal in what was ultimately a 2-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets. Darling started his second consecutive game – Crawford was diagnosed with appendicitis prior to the team’s game in Philadelphia, where he had his operation. An interesting turn of events, for sure, but Darling will do what’s necessary in Crawford’s absence.

“Obviously you don’t want it to happen this way. But there’s not too many other ways it can happen so it’s an exciting opportunity for me,” Darling said following Sunday’s game. “I mean I don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t know how long Corey will be gone or what the game plan is. But I’m excited to get a few more starts than usual.”

Darling had a whole three games of NHL experience in December of 2014 when he subbed for Crawford, out with a lower-body injury at that time. That worked out just fine – he won three of his first four starts and came up even bigger in the Blackhawks’ first-round series against the Nashville Predators that postseason.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Coach Joel Quenneville said Darling has handled the extremes well.

“I think that’s what it’s all about in that role: you’re ready to play once every four or five games and then all of a sudden you’re playing every night and it’s a different job description, workload, pressure. But the expectations when you do get it can be different,” Quenneville said. “Some guys handle it the same way, going every fourth or fifth game and don’t change a beat. I think Darls did exactly that. He had a good demeanor, had a good approach, was patient as he always was. I think that helped a lot. He played some critical games for us in the playoffs, handled it the same way and that’s how you’re hoping they handle it.”

Darling is expected to get most, if not all, of the workload while Crawford’s out. Lars Johansson was recalled on Sunday and will serve as backup, but he has no NHL experience – then again, Darling didn’t have much a few years ago, either.

But Darling isn’t taking anything for granted during this stretch.

“I’ve gotta win some games to have the right to get those minutes,” he said.

Maybe, but the Blackhawks also have to give him some help. The goaltending hasn’t gotten a ton of that from the Blackhawks, who have sputtered offensively most of the season. No matter who’s in net, the Blackhawks need to start producing more.

For now, Darling is the man. He’s rolled with the backup-gig demands before and should be fine again. And if the Blackhawks can help him out some, they shouldn’t miss much of a beat without Crawford.

“He’s played great. I thought he played great again [Sunday],” Duncan Keith said. “He gave us a chance, and you know, more than a chance to win. He stopped breakaways and made big plays all night. We’re lucky to have him as a goalie we can look to when we’ve got a guy like Crow out.”

Blackhawks' jersey voted best in NHL by NHLPA poll

Blackhawks' jersey voted best in NHL by NHLPA poll

The 2019-20 NHLPA Players' Poll was released on Tuesday morning and despite no individual nods, which Chicago has been accustomed to in the past, Blackhawks fans will be happy to see the Hawks win one key franchise award: best jersey.

The Blackhawks demolished the competition in this category winning 28.25% of the vote. The Vegas Golden Knights and Toronto Maple Leafs tied for second place at 6.83% for their sweaters.

Nearly 600 NHL players were surveyed prior to the NHL pause for a variety of league-related categories for the poll.  

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Hawks Rewind: Blackhawks-Canucks Game 6 of 2010 Western Conference Semifinals

Hawks Rewind: Blackhawks-Canucks Game 6 of 2010 Western Conference Semifinals

Tuesday at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Chicago:

A heartbreaker for the Canucks and another decisive, confidence-building victory for the 2010 Blackhawks.

Following Game 5's 4-1 win at the United Center over Chicago, Vancouver had come within one in the series, making it 3-2 Hawks. The Blackhawks had won the previous three games.

After a 0-0 first period in Game 6 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, three consecutive unanswered goals in the second period put Chicago in good shape heading into the third. Troy Brouwer and Kris Versteeg scored within the first three minutes of the second and Dave Bolland added a goal with 45 seconds remaining in the frame.

After Shane O'Brien scored at 3:44 of the third for the Canucks, Patrick Kane lit the lamp at 8:17, followed by Dustin Byfuglien at 8:42 for the 5-1 final score.

Kane's Game 6 goal unleashed his now famous "heartbreaker" celebration where he outlines a heart with both gloves and punched through it. 

The Blackhawks won the series 4-2 and would be on their way to play the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference Final. 

Attention Dish and Sling customers! You have lost your Blackhawks games on NBC Sports Chicago. To switch providers, visit mysportschicago.com.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.