You could argue that the Chicago Blackhawks allowed Raanta to leave because they were confident in Darling, and you could also argue that Darling got the best of Raanta in a 2-1 win for the Blackhawks against the Rangers on Tuesday.
Darling made some daring saves, stopping 33 of 34 shots, while Raanta gave up that one extra goal. In the case of tonight, it was this silky, soupy pass by Brian Campbell leading to a nice Artem Anisimov game-winner:
These Blackhawks – Rangers games have been tight at MSG lately, and this game was no exception.
It certainly wasn’t a bad night from Raanta, but chances are pretty strong that the Rangers will go back to Henrik Lundqvist after this loss. Darling simply was just that good, and he’s been a rock for Chicago with Corey Crawford out in a less voluntary fashion.
While Jonathan Toews looked sharp and Duncan Keith – Brent Seabrook did their thing, the Blackhawks “second” line stole the show in some ways. Anisimov also had an assist, Artemi Panarin collected two helpers and PHT’s Joey Alfieri notes this moment for Patrick Kane (even if he didn’t score):
The Blackhawks improve to 18-8-4 while the Rangers slip to 20-9-1. It’s plausible that this game served as a genuine litmus test for two big-name teams with championship aspirations.
* – The two goalies almost certainly like (or at least respect) each other.