Blackhawks, Scott Darling showing they can survive without Corey Crawford

... for now.

As the first quarter of the season was ending, Corey Crawford was putting up another fantastic season. With a .927 save percentage during 20 games, Crawford was posting the best numbers of his career and was a major reason why the Blackhawks were one of the top teams in the league.

However, disaster soon struck as right before a Dec. 3 game in Philadelphia the team announced Crawford had acute appendicitis. Needing an emergency appendectomy, Crawford would be forced to sit on the sidelines for the next two-to-three weeks. But without their star goaltender in net, who would take care of the Blackhawks goaltending?

Enter Scott Darling. Drafted in the sixth round by the Arizona Coyotes all the way back in the 2007 NHL Draft, Darling bounced around in the minors for a few years before finding his way to the American Hockey League’s Milwaukee Admirals in 2013. There, through 26 games, Darling posted a sparkling .933 save percentage and begun his rise through the ranks as one of the Hawks top goalie prospects. Replicating his success in the following season, Darling once again had another great AHL season, maintaining a .927 save percentage through 26 games.

Earning a call up to the Blackhawks, Darling continued doing a phenomenal job, recording a .936 save percentage during 14 games. And after snatching the backup job away from Antti Raanta, Darling solidified his position with an outstanding playoffs, earning a .936 save percentage in five games. Darling would go on to play in 29 games and start 24 of them in the following season, registering 12 wins and a .915 save percentage.

Even though Crawford is the No. 1 goalie in Chicago, Darling is more than a capable backup and will be able to shoulder the load while Crawford’s out. With a projected return date by Christmas, the Blackhawks only need to rely on Darling for about two more weeks and that shouldn’t be a problem at all. Since Crawford got injured, Darling has already played four games for the Blackhawks and is doing a fantastic job.

In his first game in relief for Crawford, Darling didn’t do too great (giving up three goals on 30 shots to the Philadelphia Flyers) but he has been lights out ever since.

In the following game on the next day against the Winnipeg Jets, Darling took the loss but only surrendered two goals on 32 shots for a .938 save percentage. Then he followed up that performance with a 22-save shutout and a spectacular game against the Rangers. Though he didn’t get the win, he was the team’s best player as he stopped all but one of the 36 shots he faced, his highest save total in a game this season. On Sunday, he locked down the Stars in a 2-1 victory.

With six wins in 10 starts and a .929 save percentage on the season, Darling is one of the best backups in the NHL. Blackhawks fans don’t have to worry too much about Crawford being out with Darling manning the crease in his absence.