Two huge changes are coming up in the Nashville Predators-Chicago Blackhawks playoff series.
The Predators will face the next two games against the Chicago Blackhawks without captain Shea Weber. The worst part? The next two games are in Chicago so the team will also face an intense crowd and match up against goalie Scott Darling instead of Corey Crawford.
The series resumes Sunday at 3:00 p.m. Eastern on NBC.
Weber received a lower body injury in the middle of the second period of Game Two. It was a clean hit by Brandon Saad, but it injured Weber nonetheless.
“You don’t know what they are or the significance of the injuries but certainly you never like to lose any player,” said head coach Peter Laviolette. “You certainly don’t want to lose a guy who takes down as many minutes as [Weber] and the captain of your team.”
The Predators won the second game 6-2 even though Weber missed half the game, including a wild three-goal run in the third period. But Chicago announced Darling will start in Game Three instead of Crawford. The Predators scored three goals against Crawford on 12 shots in the first game before the coaches pulled him. With Darling’s amazing performance, the Hawks rebounded and won in double overtime. Crawford coughed up six goals on 35 shots in the second game, including a crazy three-goal run in the third period.
“I thought our guys continued to press and play hard,” continued Laviolette. “I think (injuries) happen. I think it happens through the course of the playoffs. Everybody gets injuries and you have to deal with them. (Friday night) was a real good sign that some guys did elevate their minutes and played in different situations, tried to fill (Weber’s) role. We were able to find success doing that.”
It will be interesting to see if they can stand up to Darling without Weber. Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said the choice was based on performance.
“His play is deserving of getting a start here at home and something he deserves based on how well he played in that game,” stated Quenneville. “Crow has been our starter here every game for a long stretch of games here. Everybody assumes he’s going to be your guy and well this year Scotty came in and played one of those games that was an amazing performance and put us in a pretty good spot. Still a lot of hockey to be played here but we’re looking forward to (Darling) getting in the net.”