While Crawford remains the No. 1 (and is expected back between the pipes Friday against Colorado), Darling may get some additional work down the stretch, at least compared to what was originally planned.
“It will get some discussion, knowing that we’ll keep an eye on Corey,” head coach Joel Quenneville said, per the Chicago Sun-Times. “Going into the season, you anticipate [Darling] playing all the back-to-backs, and getting more based on performance, and how [Crawford] is handling it, as well. That will [factor] into the decision. Certainly, he’s enhanced how we view the opportunity — him getting a little bit more, and making it tough when we’re making decisions on who’s in net.”
The Blackhawks have received outstanding play from both their netminders. Crawford, 31, is 12-6-2 with a .927 save percentage. Darling, 27, is 10-2-2, also with a .927 save percentage — a well-timed performance considering he’s a pending unrestricted free agent.
Darling’s strong play has even led some to speculate that the ‘Hawks could trade Crawford and his $6 million cap hit. After all, they do need to get Artemi Panarin re-signed, and GM Stan Bowman did once walk away from a Stanley Cup-winning goalie in Antti Niemi.
That being said, Crawford has since won two more Cups for the ‘Hawks. He’s had his struggles at times, like any starting goalie does. But overall he’s been excellent. To even consider trading him, they’d have to be pretty darn sure about Darling, who’s only made 51 career starts in the NHL — a far cry from Crawford’s 334, plus 81 more in the playoffs.