By Jay Zawaski-
(CBS) Hats off to Scott Darling.
He did exactly what a backup goalie is supposed to do when given the opportunity to play. When starter Corey Crawford faltered, he took over and provided the Blackhawks with really solid play, and he’s one of the many reasons Chicago holds a 3-2 series lead over the Nashville Predators in their first-round matchup.
Coach Joel Quenneville made the right decision in sticking with Darling for games 3, 4 and 5.
Now, Quenneville’s in position to make another sound decision. It’s time for the Blackhawks to go back to their All-Star, their franchise goalie, their MVP — Crawford. As of Friday morning, Quenneville hadn’t announced his starting goalie for Saturday’s Game 6.
For all his detractors, Crawford had an incredible season. Save for an ordinary week after his infamous concert injury, he was the main reason the Blackhawks kept a playoff spot in a loaded Central Division. In March, Crawford went 7-3-1 with a 2.32 goals against average and a .933 save percentage. In April, the team played terrible in front of him. His record was 1-3, but he still managed a goals-against average of 1.78. He also posted save percentage of .944. Those are elite numbers.
When the decision was made to go with Darling in the first place, the question was, “How or when do you go back to Crawford if Darling stays hot?” Well, he cooled off in Thursday’s 5-2 loss at Nashville in Game 5, allowing four goals on 28 shots.
It should be Crawford’s net again. He’s proved he can win a Stanley Cup, and he’s proved he can bounce back from poor play. If Crawford does get the start for Game 6, I fully expect to see the goalie we’ve seen all year long.
This, of course, is easy for me to say.
Quenneville has to consider the fallout if Crawford again struggles in Game 6. If he’s forced to go to Darling for the third goaltender move in a Game 7, how can he go back to Crawford for a fourth time?
Jay Zawaski is the executive producer of the Spiegel and Goff Show on 670 The Score and the Blackhawks columnist for CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JayZawaski670.