Hawks don't storm the keep, Kings win 3-1

Well, I think we finally saw the Kings team that a few of us here feared going into the playoffs. While I wouldn't call it a dominant game by LA, they nonetheless played the exact game they wanted to and were able to execute their game plan. They got to the Hawks D quicker and hit them, they forced turnovers or forced the D into making bad passes and they found ways to get the Hawks to blow coverage and leave Justin Williams open for what seems like his 20th goal of the playoffs from the same spot. On the Hawks side of things, they went flat very quick in the first and were never consistent on breakouts. Sometimes they pulled forwards down low and broke out with the short pass, other times they flew the zone and I have to admit, there were times when the LA forecheck was leaving that pass wide open. It's a cliche, but this game could have easily been 3-2 Hawks. I wont' say the Hawks gave this one away because LA executed their system nearly flawlessly. Still, this was not a strong performance from the Hawks until the third period.

After the game, the NBC brain trust said the Hawks didn't skate yesterday or today. After the game the other night, I don't remember where I read this, but one article said the Hawks had set up a suite with food, TV's and video games. Overconfidence? To start the game, I actually though the first couple of shifts went pretty well. But, the Kings seemed to turn it around shortly after that and though it was tight, I really thought the Kings had the edge in most everything. Though the Hawks lost the face off stat, I don't know that the extra ten the Kings won made that much of a difference. Hit wise, the differential wasn't horrible which was also ten. Where I really think the Hawks lost this game was on the breakouts and the lack of speed. LA is never going to get into a track meet with the Hawks, but if the Hawks are hustling, they can stop the dump and punish and force LA to chase the puck more. The shots on Quick included some very decent shots where he gave up rebounds, but when it came to scooping up rebounds, I thought the Hawks frequently seemed disorganized and not really sure of what they wanted to do. And of course, there were multiple extra passes that had me screaming, "Shoot the puck" at the TV.

As I said, first period started decent, but quickly turned the Kings way when the Hawks started losing foot races. Predictably, the Hawks started looking like they were in fire drill mode and Williams got free and wide open and ripped a shot that Crow probably didn't see as Rozsival's big frame was right in his way. Somehow, the Hawks managed to stroll through the rest of the period without giving up a goal and SOG was 8-7 in Kings favor. The second period started where the first ended and the Kings seems to be nearly in autopliot mode. Just about little over half way in, a scrum built up in front of Crawford and the puck started to squirt up towards the point and Voynov skated into it for a one time that broke his stick and the puck seemed to bounce of the tip of Crawford's glove. I didn't see it from multiple angles, but with all the bodies in front of Crow and the distraction of a piece of stick flying in a different direction, I'm hard pressed to say that's a goal he's gotta have. Late second period, the Kings got caught in their own fire drill and Bickell grabbed the puck and skated behind the net from Quick's right to left and buried a wrap around that Quick knew was coming. After that, the Hawks did seem to get some momentum, but not sustained. Late in the third, the Hawks had some really good chances and Quick made a very lucky desperation save on Bickell. All that was left to do was for the Kings to get an empty netter, which, BTW, seemed to come from a Hawk forward basically giving up on chasing the puck.

Observations- Sutter moved Stoll and Kopitar around but I'm hard pressed to believe that was a dominant coaching move that changed the whole game. The Hawks, to me, just did not seem into this game. On the plus side, I saw nothing tonight that makes me think this Kings team is not as beatable as it was in Chicago. Their playoff record at home is pretty stunning, but if the Hawks get back to the style they won with in Chicago, I do believe they will take a game in LA. BTW, I think we have a big enough sample size to know that Williams needs to be covered better in the offensive zone.

Reading the chatter on other sites about Bickell, it's kind of funny watching how the projected dollar amount climbs with every goal he scores. If he pots a couple more, pretty soon he will be projected to be a 5 mildo a year guy. At the other end of the spectrum, we have Stalberg and I just don't know what to make of that. I went from not being a very big fan of Stalberg to becoming very impressed with him to now feeling like he is seldom noticeable. Short as his ice time, it was still more then Bolland. Defensively, several forwards, IMO, did not do their job tonight. Sharp, Saad, Shaw and Zus were all -2 while Kane and Stals were -1. If these guys are scoring, that's one thing. Fro and Kruger, in contrast do not score, but they stop scoring. All in all, I expected a bounce back game from the Kings on their home ice, and they delivered. If the Hawks come back ready to play like they did in the first two games, I think they take the game on Thursday.

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  • Like you said Vegas, the Kings came out hungry and the Hawks pretty much said, "you can have it." The first shift by the Hawks was really hard, but the next saw L.A. take control and they never really let the Hawks have it back. Great game by the Kings.

    Why is Bickell the only Hawk getting and taking advantage of prime scoring chances? I mean, I know why he is, but where the hell are our Kane's and Toews' right now? This was their opportunity to be the difference. Like you said Vegas, a few too many passes in some instances, especially for Kane. Bickell had the tying goal come off his stick, but he underestimated Quick who saved that game and most likely series late in the 3rd with that chance you mentioned. Hawks had other chances that they blew before that though.

    I also agree that this was L.A's best, and I doubt the Hawks best doesn't trump them on Thursday night, if they plan on bringing their best. The practice situation you mention is interesting to say the least.

    On Stalberg: he is done in Chicago. Whatever went on between him and Q has left them both feeling like this is not the place for Stalberg to be. I wish Stalberg would fight though that better, but confidence has always been an issue with this whole roster and especially him. Q blew it with, just as he has with so many other players before him. But, even Bolland had fewer minutes than he did in this one.

    Yep, Bickell is not going nowhere.

    A note on Frolik: I was a little excited when I saw Kane on the 4th line in his spot during the 3rd, thinking that this meant Fro was getting a little promotion. Nope, it was just Q double-shifting Kane. Balls on that move. Fro should be used more, and in more prominent situations, especially in a game like that, and especially when Kane isn't playing at his best.

    On Crawford: Wow, I have never seen him playing like this. He is moving better than he ever has, is seeing the puck better, and controlling his rebounds! I am shocked and impressed. He made some really tough saves last night to keep his team within an inch of winning a game they had no right winning.

  • BTW, I would not be surprised if Keith is suspended. He didn't mean to hit him square in the mouth, but he did.

  • I had all the same thoughts... Where's Kane? What's up with Stalberg? Why is Bickell the only guy getting chances? Shoot the puck... Etc...

    Although the Kings came out hungry for a win (like we all expected), I was a honestly little unimpressed. They skated hard and did a lot of crashing around, but I didn't see a whole lot of great "hockey" out of them. And their second goal was pretty weak with the broken stick.

    All the press about Quick being almost beyond human in goal is getting old, and has definitely gotten into the Hawks players' minds -- and surely was the reason for the extra passes. News flash: Quick and Crawford have almost identical stats in the playoffs thus far. Just get the puck on net.

    If the NHL is thinking about suspending Keith, I hope they take into account that Carter elbowed him in the face and slashed the back of his neck back at the goal line, and then intentionally slashed his bare hand at the blue line. Keith deserved a major on that play, but Carter should have at least gotten a minor too.

  • Was at game, very disappointed in the Hawks effort, they looked disengaged for a good part of it, couldn't make simple passes and didn't shoot the puck when they had a chance (Kane!?). Honestly, although the Kings brought the better effort and intensity, they were sloppy at times as well. Expect a much better effort from the Hawks next game but expect the Kings to be better also, and they may have their best player, Richards back. Hawks had a chance to bury them and didn't show up, bottom line. It is a series now...

  • Too funny. Like I was saying about Bickell, the Kings writer on hockeybuzz has said they should dump Penner and pay Bickell 4 million. Hate to say it, but if the market is batshit crazy like that this summer, Bickell is going to be a very rich man......somewhere else.

    I wanted to double back on something I posted above. Though Zus was a -2, I still think he has more then done his job since being signed here and on both goals, I thought it was Hawks wingers who let the shot from the side get teed up. Because I have been watching games after the fact because I was working, I'm not as dialed in and I can't seem to figure out why so many top guys aren't scoring but yet the Hawks seem to be generating a dominant performance.

  • ,Figured we would lose one in LA, but was unimpressed with the Hawks not showing up until the third. Speed kills and we did not have it until it was desperation time.

    With Keith suspended for a game, it will be interesting to see if they suck it up. I think they will respond.

    Suspension was warranted, IMO

  • I agree the suspension was the right decision, and I'm glad to see it was only one game.

    This playoffs has proven that the Hawks can win without their stars showing up for every game... and the Kings did the same without Richards. Hopefully the absence of Keith will actually ignite the rest of the team to play at a higher level.

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