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You know it’s the playoffs when the Tribune’s Dumbass-In-Chief, David Haugh,  stops fretting about Kris Bryant long enough to give we mere mortals the benefit of his wisdom. Yesterday, he pinched off a real steamer about the “Goalie Controversy” ahead of Game 2. Needless to say, it’s down to his usual level of gibberish but fear not, intrepid reader, I’ve gone behind the paywall so you don’t have to.

When Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford rushed off the bench Wednesday night to be among the first to congratulate backup Scott Darling for saving Game 1 against the Predators, he knew better than most that he had just watched a hockey masterpiece.

This is true: Crawford has learned to appreciate fine art, having had a season-long front row seat for Michal Rozsival’s avant garde performance-piece called “No seriously, I am still getting paid to do this”

May Crawford keep watching – until Darling wakes up from the dream sequence that began when he entered the game to begin Wednesday’s second period at Bridgestone Arena and his team trailing 3-0. Exactly 42 saves later, the Hawks stole a 4-3 victory in double overtime to reward a local guy who looks like more than just a media Darling.

Corey likes to watch. Oh and look at that, did you know that Scott Darling is a local lad? Lemont, apparently? Fancy that. Except he was born in Newport News, but let’s not sweat the geography.  That last bit there, by the way, is what we writers like to call a “pun” or “play on words” and is a sophisticated tool and not to be confused with lazy hackwork.

“One of the greatest relief performances you’re going to see,’’ Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said postgame.

“It was nearly as much a relief as that time I got clogged up from eating pizza  in Calgary and Kitch had to give me a gatorade enema in the equipment room to get the mail moving”

As they say nearby at the Grand Ole Opry, encore, encore.

There is no wrong answer to who starts at goalie for the Blackhawks in Game 2. But expect Quenneville to make the right one: Darling.

“There is no wrong answer, just a right one and a righterer one

That doesn’t mean Quenneville or the Hawks have lost faith in Crawford and he immediately becomes the core player most likely to be traded in July. Quite the contrary; by now the Hawks should believe enough in Crawford’s psyche to trust he can understand the dynamic of going with the hot goalie coming off the type of performance Chicagoans will remember for years.

OK, this is witless guff. That second sentence is classic Haugh: patronising, meaningless, clumsy and trite. Jesus, if I’d actually paid good money to read this crap, I’d print it out, wrap it round a brick and throw it through his front window.

 

Nobody who knows hockey blames Crawford for all three goals – what was Michal Rozsival thinking anyway on the first one? – and sticking with Darling wouldn’t be punitive as much as pragmatic.

Unfortunately, people who don’t know shit about hockey dominate the airwaves, internet forums and make up 90% of sports journalists. Haugh is living proof that you can make it as a sportswriter in this town with as fine a grasp of your subject as a bowl of lutefisk has on Ulysses.

Starting Darling for Game 2 would be a 60-minute decision, not necessarily a six-week one. Crawford always can return once Darling runs out of magic dust.

No. that’s not how postseason hockey works, Dave. If Darling runs out of “magic dust” (you can get 25-to-life for holding that in TN) in an elimination game, there is no “return”, there is a tee time instead. This is why you have this weird concept of a “Starting Goalie” who is demonstrably your best player in that position.

When Quenneville explained his unusual decision to make Antoine Vermette a healthy scratch for Game 1, he cited performance issues. He sent a strong message that decisions about playing time in the postseason would be based on merit. Deciding who starts at goalie should be no different even if it is one of the toughest positions in all of sports.

Leaving aside the debatable point that Q has “explained” anything about his decision on a level that is comprehensible to anyone who hasn’t recently suffered severe head trauma,  do you think, maybe, that instead of blindly swallowing and regurgitating this horseshit about “merit” you might get off your ass and ask some questions about why this meritocracy seems to exclude Shaw, A. and Rozsival, M?

Whether it’s juggling lines or benching veterans such as Vermette, Quenneville coaches by instinct. The man behind the mustache has followed his gut to two Stanley Cup championships with the Blackhawks. Since midnight Wednesday, it must have been screaming at him to start Darling.

“Dammit Joel, what have I told you about eating chili dogs before bed?”

It wouldn’t be the first time Quenneville has found himself relying on a rookie goaltender in the playoffs. Doing so worked out pretty well in 2010 when the Hawks rode Antti Niemi’s hot glove hand all the way to their first Cup championship in 49 years.

There we go.. the inevitable lazy comparison to 2010. Knew that was coming. No doubt at all, Q caught lightning in a bottle with Niemi but the similarities end there. In 2010 his hand was forced, more or less, because Cristobal Huet was pissing on his chips on a regular basis.  Crawford has just come off a 6th-ranked  regular season Sv% of .924 and even played well once the team in front of him bailed on the last few weeks. Yes, they rode the hot hand to a championship five years ago. Doesn’t mean that it should become policy.

Predators coach Peter Laviolette, who then coached the Flyers, must have felt a sense of déjà vu Wednesday night watching another relatively unknown Hawks goalie ruin his night in the playoffs. The Hawks need to give history a chance to repeat itself, at least for one more game. It remains Crawford’s team even if now represents Darling’s time.

It remains Crawford’s team even if now represents Darling’s time? Would you like to explain exactly what that means, Dave? Because to my untutored eye, it looks like glib nonsense.  Also, the goalie ruining Lavy’s nights in 2010 was wearing orange (Hi Mike!).

What a great problem to have for the Blackhawks.

The only thing the Blackhawks have more of an embarrassment of riches with than goaltending is the number of shitty journalists writing about them.