Darling doing his finest Crawford impression
The Blackhawks are missing their No. 1 netminder. Judging by the events of the last week, though, coach Joel Quenneville seems to have a more-than-capable replacement at the ready.
Scott Darling looks to continue his recent stellar work tonight against the 18-9-1 Rangers. Online sports book Bovada.lv gives Chicago odds of -145 to handle its business at home. Conversely, New York enters the United Center as a +125 underdog.
Corey Crawford has helped lead the Hawks (17-8-3) to a pair of Stanley Cups. His emergency appendectomy on Dec. 3, however, opened the door for a heavy serving of Darling. The 27-year-old boasts a .940 save percentage in his past three assignments.
Needless to say, he’ll receive an uncommonly stern test in several hours. The Rangers pace the league in goals with 99. Most recently, they eked out a 2-1 victory over the Jets.
After sitting out the Winnipeg contest, the Blueshirts’ Henrik Lundqvist should be back in business this evening. The three-time All-Star is 6-2-2 with a 2.19 GAA and .925 save percentage in his career vs. Chicago. Taking into account the absence of Jonathan Toews (upper body), too, we ultimately expect those numbers to improve.
FRIDAY NHL FREE PICK: RANGERS +1.5