Scott Darling gets the nod, Corey Crawford gets the rest

SHARE Scott Darling gets the nod, Corey Crawford gets the rest
SHARE Scott Darling gets the nod, Corey Crawford gets the rest

DENVER —It’s a strange thing to be a backup goaltender in the spring. After starting the season finale Saturday night at Colorado, if Scott Darling sees the ice again before the fall, it’s because something bad has happened for the Blackhawks. It would mean either Corey Crawford has been hurt, or has been terrible.

Darling, of course, doesn’t want either to happen. But he has to be prepared for it. Chances are, if he does enter a playoff game, it’ll be with little warning.

“You just have to think about it like you’re one mishap away from starting in the playoffs,” Darling said. “That’s enough motivation to work hard every day in practice and be ready to go if they ever need me.”

And does Darling, with all of 14 NHL appearances under his belt, feel he’s ready?

“Absolutely,” he said.

Darling got the nod on Saturday against the out-of-the-playoffs Avalanche, a game that may or may not have any meaning depending on what happens in the Minnesota-St. Louis game this afternoon. That’ll give Crawford nearly a full week off before his next start, in Game 1 of the first round. Crawford prefers to be playing regularly, and said that the decision to sit him was Joel Quenneville’s, not his —“He’s the boss here,” Crawford said.

But he added that he could benefit from a few extra days of rest.

“It’s good,” he said. “Get some rest and make sure that the energy is at 100 percent, not that isn’t anyway. It’s always nice to get a little rest before it starts.”

Crawford finished the regular season with a .924 save percentage, second only to the lockout-shortened season when he was .926. His 2.27 goals-against average is nearly identical to last year’s 2.26. And aside from a poor stretch in December and January after he returned from an ankle injury, he’s been playing as well as he ever has.

He shared the Jennings Trophy with Montreal’s Carey Price, as the primary goalies on the two teams that allowed the fewest goals, 189.

And he’s raring to go for the postseason, where he’s 32-23 with a .920 save percentage and 2.21 goals-against average in his career.

“I feel really good about my game, pretty strong,” he said. “There’s always some things you’ve got to adjust for against certain teams. Right now I feel probably the best I felt all year.”

Email: mlazerus@suntimes.com

Twitter: @marklazerus

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