Analysis

Chicago Blackhawks’ 5 Questions Heading Into All-Star Break

By Colin Likas
Jan 13, 2017; Washington, DC, USA; Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville looks on from behind the bench against the Washington Capitals in the second period at Verizon Center. The Capitals won 6-0. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 13, 2017; Washington, DC, USA; Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville looks on from behind the bench against the Washington Capitals in the second period at Verizon Center. The Capitals won 6-0. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports /
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How do the Blackhawks split starts between Corey Crawford and Scott Darling moving forward?

Let’s just say both of these guys stay healthy for the rest of the regular season. How does coach Joel Quenneville split up their workload moving forward?

Crow has not looked the same since coming back from his appendectomy earlier this month. He seems a little sluggish side to side and is getting beat by some shots he normally stops (not that his defense is doing much for him on many nights).

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Darling, meanwhile, has looked good in relief work, and looked good for a stretch when Crow was sidelined. It led to Q expressing a desire to get Darling some more work moving forward, with his next opportunity coming tonight against the Jets.

Crow is your incumbent starter, no matter how much some fans may gnash their teeth over it. He’s not going anywhere, and he’s going to get the bulk of the starts. There will be 31 games left after tonight’s affair, so how does Q split them?

The easiest place to start in this analysis is looking at back-to-backs. The Blackhawks have five remaining, with two in February and three in March. So unless the Blackhawks desperately need points, You’d have to imagine that works out to five starts for Crow and five for Darling.

After that, you have 21 games to account for. I think, in a perfect world, Q would be fine with a 2-to-1 ratio of starts, meaning Crow would get 14 and Darling seven. That would equate to 19 for Crow and 12 for Darling to close the regular season.

But even that still seems like a stretch, as Crow would finish with 51 starts for this season if that played out. That’d be well below his start totals in previous seasons, with the last three hitting 58, 57 and 59.

Maybe that’s not such a bad thing, though. If Darling continues to play well, why not give Crow some more down time? Sure, it might throw him off if he does get in another good groove (and there’s no reason to believe he won’t), but it could also be beneficial.

I’m guessing the totals wind up closer to 21 starts for Crow and 10 for Darling after the break. But we’ll see how the Blackhawks play their hand.

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