Tuesday night, the Los Angeles Kings team everyone expected showed up, and they skated away with a 3-1 victory. The Kings played the Hawks physically, pressuring their D and forcing turnovers early. They also got the Hawks off their games in the 2nd period. Patrick Sharp took two frustration penalties, and Duncan Keith earned himself a double minor for this high stick to Jeff Carter. As a result, the Hawks never got anything going until late in the period when Bryan Bickell cut the Hawks' deficit to one.
Make no mistake...the 2nd period was the difference in this game.
The Hawks only managed 3 shots on goal the entire frame. While they did kill off the penalties, they were never able to gain any sustained control until the 3rd period. By then, it was too late.
Chicago had plenty of chances to tie the game in the 3rd. Patrick Kane opted to dangle the puck (again) instead of shooting. Viktor Stalberg had an earlier chance to put the puck on net, but instead decided to dish the puck to the feet of Brandon Saad. The dagger was Jonathan Quick's save on Bryan Bickell in front. Bickell had him dead to rights when Quick miraculously saved the shot with the hand side of his blocker.
Hawk fans should take solace in the fact that, for the most part, the Blackhawks beat themselves tonight. They took bad, undisciplined penalties, turned the puck over far too often early in the game, and got too cute when it mattered. Yes, the Kings forced the issue early, but aside from the score, the 1st period was relatively even, and the Hawks took it to LA in the 3rd. They just came up short. We all knew this wouldn't be easy, but know the Hawks are the better team.
- Niklas Hjalmarsson, who is the toughest S.O.B. on the planet right now, has been in the league since 2007. Can we get his name right? JAL-mar-son. Very simple. The Hawks have provided this handy pronunciation guide.
- Remember when Patrick Kane was a Blackhawk? Those were good days, eh? He has been absolutely invisible in these playoffs. He's disengaged, and doesn't seem willing to head in to the corner under any circumstance. When he does get a chance, his inexplicably skates right in to the opposing D-man or dangles himself out of a play. Look no further than his golden 3rd period opportunity Tuesday. I still feel like he's going to make his mark on these playoffs. He's always been good on the big stage. I would say the West Finals are pretty big.
- Corey Crawford was again outstanding. His rebound control, which was a bit of a problem in the regular season, has become a strength. The Slava Voynov goal was tough. The defensemen teed up what was going to be a slapper, but his stick broke on the shot and dribble past Crawford, who was set up to defend the intended shot.
- Patrick Sharp is too important to this team to lose his cool. Just like Jonathan Toews in the Detroit series, Sharp is letting LA's gnats get to him. He's been the Hawks biggest offensive weapon. He needs to be on the ice against the league's best goaltender.
- Some people have mentioned that Duncan Keith could be looking at a suspension for his high stick on Jeff Carter. I don't see it. I'd be shocked to see him suspended, but this is the NHL, so you never know. EDIT : After watching this .GIF, I think Keith gets a game suspension.
- The non-icing call at the end of the game will be talked about ad nauseam for the next couple of days. Apparently, the puck hit a Blackhawk on the way out of the zone. Even if it didn't, it wasn't the difference in the game.
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Filed under: andrew shaw, Blackhawks, brent seabrook, bryan bickell, Chicago Blackhawks, Chicago Sports, Corey Crawford, danny mac show, dave bolland, duncan keith, hockey, jay zawaski, johnny oduya, jonathan toews, LA Kings, Marcus Kruger, marian hossa, michael frolik, Michael Handzus, michal rozsival, NHL, nhl playoffs, Patrick Kane, patrick sharp, sports, viktor stalberg, wscr