SENATORS (4-2-0) AT BLACKHAWKS (4-2-1)
TV: NHLN-US,TVA SPORTS, CITY, WGN
CHICAGO -- Scott Darling will make his NHL debut Sunday night for the Chicago Blackhawks, starting in goal for the team he grew up rooting for in a game against the Ottawa Senators at United Center.
The 6-foot-6, 232-pound Darling, from nearby Lemont, Ill., signed with the Blackhawks this past off-season after a strong year playing for the Milwaukee Admirals in the American Hockey League. After impressing Chicago coach Joel Quenneville during training camp, Darling was recalled from the Rockford IceHogs of the AHL when Blackhawks starting goalie Corey Crawford went down with an upper-body injury last week.
"I told him [Saturday] night he was starting, and I don't know if I surprised him with that one, but certainly he's going to be excited," Quenneville said Sunday afternoon. "I haven't talked to him yet, but [goaltending coach Jimmy Waite's] talked to him and he was [on the ice] this morning, so try to be comfortable and be confident at the same time."
Neither team held a mandatory morning skate, after each lost a game Saturday night, but the goaltenders managed to get some work in with a handful of teammates. Ottawa's Craig Anderson, who's also from Chicago's suburbs, will start for the Senators but the spotlight will be more on Darling's debut.
"It's got to be exciting," Quenneville said. "You get to play your first NHL game and it's in front of your home city and home fans, it's got to be a thrill of a lifetime for sure. There was no discussion [when I told him]. He was walking by me on the plane. I would've liked to see his face as he walked past me."
As for a scouting report on Darling, the Senators apparently don't have one. The short notice of his starting left them no time to put anything together prior to the game.
"I don't think you do [scout him]," Ottawa coach Paul MacLean said. "If you can't get any video on him, you just can't, so you just have to go out and play. He's probably going to be a butterfly goaltender. The biggest thing for us is, 'Does he handle the puck?' or does he move the puck? If he's an elite puck-mover type of guy, that's a big
thing for us. Otherwise, most goalies these days are butterfliers and you've got to make sure you go to the net and have traffic."
Each team will have additional lineup changes as well.
The Blackhawks will put forward Jeremy Morin back into the game for injured forward Daniel Carcillo, after sitting the past three games as a healthy scratch. Carcillo, who appeared to injure his right knee late in the third period Saturday at the St. Louis Blues, could miss up to four weeks.
That means Morin could get a long-awaited chance to see regular ice time in the NHL, even if it's part of the fourth line to start out
"Obviously, you never want to see [injuries] happen to one of your teammates, but it's part of the game and I'm excited to get back in the lineup tonight," Morin said. "You just have to work through [being scratched]. It's part of the game, a young player coming in, I have to prove myself. Nothing's given to you, you have to go out there and earn it. It's tough not being in the lineup. It's motivation for sure to come into the lineup, perform and stay in there."
MacLean is making a couple changes based on experience level. He's putting forwards Colin Greening and Erik Condra into the game and sitting out forwards Mark Stone and Curtis Lazar. Defenseman Jared Cowen will be a healthy scratch for the fifth straight game.
"The feeling is that in this building, back-to-back, on the road, that we're going to put the game in the hands of our veteran players that are the oldest group that we can put out there, and let them have a chance at winning the game," MacLean said. "The only reason is that [Stone and Lazar] have never played here. This is a hard place to play, even though it'd be great to get your first game to play here, with the excitement of it all. We just feel that the veteran core that we have, we need to give them the opportunity to win the game."
Here at the projected lineups:
Clarke MacArthur - Kyle Turris - Bobby Ryan
Colin Greening - Mika Zibanejad - Alex Chiasson
Milan Michalek - Zack Smith - Erik Condra
Mike Hoffman - David Legwand - Chris Neil
Chris Phillips - Erik Karlsson
Patrick Wiercioch - Cody Ceci
Mark Borowiecki - Eric Gryba
Scratched: Jared Cowen, Curtis Lazar, Mark Stone
Injured: Marc Methot (back/hip)
Brandon Saad - Jonathan Toews - Marian Hossa
Patrick Sharp - Brad Richards - Kris Versteeg
Bryan Bickell - Andrew Shaw - Ben Smith
Jeremy Morin - Marcus Kruger - Patrick Kane
Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook
Johnny Oduya - Niklas Hjalmarsson
Trevor van Riemsdyk - David Rundblad
Scratched: Michal Rozsival
Injured: Daniel Carcillo (right knee), Corey Crawford (upper body)
Status report: Defenseman Michal Rozsival will likely be a healthy scratch for the Blackhawks, replaced on the third defense pairing by David Rundblad. Rozsival committed a turnover at the Blackhawks' blue line Saturday night that led directly to the Blues' second goal and Chicago wound up losing 3-2.
Who's hot: Ottawa's Karlsson had another assist Saturday and extended his point streak to five games (two goals and three assists). ... Chicago's Sharp upped his team-high point total to eight Saturday at St. Louis by scoring a goal and assisting on another. Sharp has three goals, all scored during power plays, and is fourth in the NHL with six power-play points.