Leave it to the Little Rascals to put last night’s Blackhawk 4-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues in perspective. Alfalfa’s infatuation for his “Darling” can only be summed up in a set of words. Delectable Darlooney. That’s what Chicago’s back-up Scott Darling has become. Our Delectable Darlooney.
First consider, Darling was called in on game day to fill in for flu-ridden Corey Crawford. He awoke to a phone call at 8 a.m. saying, saddle up you’re going to be in net at 6:30 p.m. at the United Center. Not much time to put the game face on, but that’s the life of a backup. Be ready at any time. And was he ever.
The Hawks showed tremendous giddy up in the opening period. Four minutes in, Jonathan Toews (16) slid down the ride side and received a beautiful assist from Nick Schmaltz for a 1-0 lead. Seven and a half minutes later, Patrick Kane (24) made it 2-0 on a give and go from Toews. In all, Chicago threw 20 pucks at Blues goalie Jake Allen in period one. It’s a wonder it wasn’t 4-0 or 5-0. What it was though, was 2-1. Late in the stanza, Magnus Paajarvi snuck one past Darling after a glaring Hawk turnover and the St. Louis turnabout began. To that point in the game, the Hawks were clearly outskating St. Louis.
The second period was a much different story. The Blues got their legs and Hawk defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk got his lunch handed to him. Score at the end of two was 2-2. TVR was in the penalty box for high sticking and in the ensuing power play for St. Louis, Alex Pietrangelo evened the score. Coupled with Van Riemsdyk’s penalty was an earlier undressing of the puck at the Chicago blue line (see above) which gave the Blues their first score. Not the most memorable night for the young defender.
Back to Darling. It was his staunch presence in goal that proved to be the difference. He made spectacular stops on Peter Stasny, not once, not twice, but……three times. Darling’s work in essence provided the Kane, to Artemi Panarin to Artem Anisimov (22) game winning goal. Tanner Kero (6) ended the scoring with an open netter.
The takeaways? Darling’s 15th win was something to behold. The Hawks have talked about making a splash this off-season with moves. Is Darling the goalie of the future? Maybe. That’s a discussion for later. Still keep it in the back of your mind. Chicago now has 20 regular season games left. It’s no longer a marathon folks. It’s clearly a sprint. If the season ended today, the Hawks would play Nashville and Minnesota would face the Kings. Speaking of the latter two clubs, the Wild made an acquisition Sunday of one Martin Hanzal from Phoenix. He will provide great depth at center for Minnesota. I’m not sure if he’s worth what Minnesota gave up, but the trade surely signals the all-in Wild mindset. Another deal had Los Angeles trading for Ben Bishop of Tampa Bay. Adding him to Jonathan Quick in goal for the Kings is confusing and interesting at the same time. Quick just returned from a season long groin issue. If healthy, he’s the man. Bishop is a big-time security blanket. Ironically, these two squads tangle tonight at 7 p.m. Central on NBCSN. Might want to check it out. Less than a week ago, Chicago was 7 points out of first. A loss to Minnesota on Tuesday night could have pushed that difference to 9…but a win in Minnesota Tuesday evening and two more victories since then has dropped the Wild lead to 1 little point. Minnesota has three games in hand, but……
What’s these two above moves mean to the Hawks? Well….if I was to guess, I’m not convinced they’ll trade for another forward. I do think, you’ll see defenseman Johnny Oduya back in a red sweater. That would be welcomed and it makes way to much sense. And after the display by TVR last evening, I wouldn’t be surprised if Coach Q is knocking at General Manager Stan Bowman’s office door this morning…..that a little rascal.
And gosh, I almost forgot. Wednesday night. Penguins and Hawks at 7 p.m. The Madhouse will be rocking….
Thanks for checking in,
Duncan Keith’s first period assist was his 500th career point last night….Artem Anisimov’s 22nd goal of the year tied his career high which he recorded with Columbus in the 2013-2014 campaign….and Tomas Jurco’s 12 plus minutes last evening started very timidly, but by game’s end, he was settling in. He might be one to keep an eye on.