Blackhawks in Good Hands With Crawford and Darling

Blackhawks in Good Hands With Crawford and Darling
Mark Harris

Corey Crawford is perhaps the most overlooked netminder in the National Hockey League. He’s overlooked by the league and even Chicago Blackhawks fans that have seen the man win a Stanley Cup. Even Mark Lazerus of The Chicago-Sun Times was asked today (half-jokingly) on the Marek vs Whyshynski podcast if “the room trusts him (Crawford)” and the first remark by a chuckling Lazerus was ‘the “‘Hawks fans sure don’t.”

You should Chicago fans, but I see where you’re coming from.

Crawford carries a $6 million cap hit and is set to make $6.5 million the next two seasons before his contract ends three years later while being paid $6 million. That’s a larger cap hit than the Los Angeles Kings’ Jonathan Quick, the Columbus Blue Jackets Sergei Bobrovsky, and the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Marc-Andre Fleury.

Crawford has his bad nights and his really good nights, but so does every other netminder in the league. I think it’s easy to pin the middle-of-the-pack type performances sometimes seen by Crawford on him when perhaps the team in front of him didn’t have a good night. Crazy to think, but yes, the Chicago’s forwards and blueliners have bad nights sometimes.

That all can be discussed in another post; back to how loaded the ‘Hawks system is with puck stoppers.

Crawford ended the regular season with a 32-20-5 record allowing just 2.27 goals per outing and stopped 92.4% of the shots he faced. His save percentage placed him fifth among all NHL netminders that played in 35+ games in the regular season.

The man who stole the show Wednesday night against the Nashville Predators, Scott Darling, finally got his call to the show this year and he performed unbelievably. The 26-year-old that was drafted in 2007 entered the season with no NHL experience. He ended the year 9-4-0 with a save percentage of .936.

Wednesday night’s shutout performance of 67:44 of relief duty of Crawford was perhaps his sweetest victory seeing how Darling was in the Nashville system just a year ago.

We also can’t forget about Antti Raanta, who played in 14 regular season games with a record of 7-4-1 to go along with a save percentage of .936. Good numbers for a number three netminder who is just 25.

Crawford and Darling seems to be showing signs of becoming a great duo in the crease. They won’t split games but Darling is looking like a more than admirable backup.

Darling and Crawford’s combined save percentage in the regular season was .930. That combined save percentage would place them atop the league among goalies who played in 30+ games. An interesting stat seeing how good that number is compared to others. Granted, Darling’s stat sample (13 games) is certainly a small one in that equation.

The Blakchawks crease is a deep one. They may not get the publicity nor the support and hype they deserve but the duo of Crawford and Darling could evolve into something extremely special. It’s also nice to know that Darling’s cap-hit is a mere $233k and he is signed through the 2016-17 season.

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Mark Harris

Mark covers the Central Division here at Today’s Slapshot. He is also the editor of predlines.com and co-editor over at puckfeed.com.

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