#2 – Crow = Ultimate Ace in the Hole
It’s a demoralizing blow to have your starting, Stanley Cup-winning goalie fall from grace at the onset of the playoffs, but Darling has certainly taken out a lot of the sting with his spectacular play. Not only has Darling been solid and reliable, but he provides the Hawks another advantages. Darling may be an unknown quantity for the Hawks, but so is he for Nashville. There is little game footage of Darling available to study for any potential weaknesses. More importantly even though Darling has helped the Hawks win two games in this series and is a PR dream, when it comes down to it, no one is really expecting anything from him. So even if the Preds crack the Darling code, their reward will be Corey Crawford, a proven goaltender that won a Stanley Cup just two years ago. The last time the Blackhawks had two reliable goaltenders, they went on a historic point streak. It appears they might have stumbled across the same formula in the playoffs.
#1 – Earn Your Keep!
With a Stanley Cup under his belt, you would think Corey Crawford’s starting gig would be all but assured for the playoffs, especially given his success towards the end of the season, which is the main reason why the Hawks remained in third place in the Central Division and didn’t freefall to the wildcard slots. Several commentators rightly identified Crow getting pulled after the first period in Game 1 as a message to the rest of the team (if nothing else) that underperforming was not going to be tolerated. Well, that message was carved in stone in the collective psyche of the Hawks when Darling got the start for Game 3, and then carved in a mountain when it was announced Darling was the starter for Game 4. Crawford only cost the Hawks one game in the series, but that was enough for him to find the pine for the foreseeable future. In the wake of the goalie change-up, Coach Joel Quenneville also benched the young up and comers Teuvo Teravainen and Joakim Nordstrom for veterans Antoine Vermette and Andrew Desjardins. Coach Q’s exact motive may be unclear, but the message that should resonate with the rest of the roster is if you’re not producing, you’re not playing. Whether this has been Q-Stache’s intention all along is up for debate, but at the very least, let’s hope these roster moves have lit a collective fire under the Hawks.
While Darling has been a nice development, there is still a long, long way to go in the post season, and all the Blackhawks need to rise to the occasion.
FOR THE DAGGER!
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