Dec 9, 2014; Newark, NJ, USA; Chicago Blackhawks goalie Scott Darling (33) makes a glove save on New Jersey Devils right wing Martin Havlat (9) during the overtime shootout at Prudential Center. The Blackhawks defeated the Devils 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
Entering training camp this season, a lot of talk was made of who would be the backup goaltender for the Blackhawks. They had brought in Michael Leighton, along with Anti Raanta and Scott Darling.
With Corey Crawford carrying most of the weight, whoever earned the backup gig would just have to be serviceable for the Hawks to succeed.
Now, 29 games into the season, Corey Crawford has been sideline twice for an extended period of time due to injuries. In his place, Raanta and Darling have held up their end of the bargain.
The two have been a vital part of the Hawks current nine game win streak and their re-claiming of the division lead over Nashville.
Crawford rejoined the team Wednesday in Boston, and was on the ice practicing yesterday gearing up for his return.
After last night’s 3-2 victory over the Boston Bruins, Coach Q was not ready to say who would have the backup job once Crawford made his return.
When the decision has to be made, Coach Q will have a tough decision on his hands.
Both guys have proved to have a value for the Blackhawks, in some capacity. At the end of the day, the Hawks will have three goalies that they can turn to when things get tough.
So who should it be?
Well, there isn’t a very easy answer. As mentioned, both guys have been playing well and help the Hawks play their best stretch of hockey all season. The long term future of the Hawks has to also be taken into account.
The Hawks have said from the beginning that they want Raanta to get a lot of playing time and get acclimated to the NHL game.
Being behind Crawford, Raanta won’t get the consistent playing time that he should be receiving.
Darling on the other hand has profiled as a backup for a long term and has been fantastic in that role since being brought to the big leagues.
It a perfect world, Raanta could be in the AHL playing as the starter while Darling is the backup here with the Hawks.
Both guys will be getting great opportunities to perfect their craft while helping the Hawks in the short and long run.
They also are interchangeable if Darling struggles or Raanta gets hot in Rockford.
There isn’t a wrong answer for the Hawks here, but there is one that can help the short and long term Blackhawks.
Once Crawford is ready to go, the Hawks should have Scott Darling sitting on the bench waiting to be called into action.