Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
“We are trying to win one game, whether we are up 3-1, down 3-1, 2-2, no matter what the series is, that doesn’t change what we are trying to do the next game,” said Kings’ goaltender Jonathan Quick, who outplayed his Blackhawks’ counterpart, Corey Crawford once again.
Ultimately, it was goaltending plus a decisive edge in the special teams’ game that won it for the Kings – along with a healthy dose of Drew Doughty. Doughty has a chance to clinch two important awards in these playoffs, one official, one not. His presence at both ends of the ice, so good defensively, so important offensively, makes Doughty the current Conn Smythe favorite as the most valuable player in the West.
Moreover, with his bold talk between games and his willingness to embrace the spotlight have also made Doughty the series MVT – most valuable talker. On the morning of the game, for example, when everyone else was tap dancing around what may or may not happen, Doughty boldly called Game 4 a “must win” for the Kings, on the grounds that if they lost, “it puts them right back in the series and gives them a bit of momentum. If we win, we’re going back to Chicago up 3-1 and that’s the place we want to be. If we want to win this series, I think we have to win this game.”
Call it a prophecy fulfilled or a mission accomplished.
The game starts just after 9:00pm ET and can be seen on NBCSN, TSN (their last national broadcast for the next 12 years) and RDS.
The Chicago Blackhawks, down 2-1 in the series need a win tonight more than the Los Angeles Kings do.
Expect the Blackhawks to find their game tonight an come away with the win.
Enjoy and feel free to comment too.
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
It's a well-worn storyline but when one team gets rolling like the Kings are, the eyes are naturally drawn to the players who aren't performing on the other side of the equation. Patrick Kane has one goal and one assist in his past eight games. His play in the series reminds us a bit of the last part of the Olympic tournament, when the skilled winger was just a bit off. He had a great chance early in the second period in the slot of Game 3 and then had another chance off the rebound but couldn't find the back of the net. "I don't think I've played up to par for myself the first three games of the series. It would be nice to turn that around and play good in Game 4," Kane said Sunday....
The Blackhawks went 0-for-4 on the power play in Game 3 and are now a desultory 1-for-21 on the road in the playoffs. We might not know much about math, but we do know those stats stink and tell us the Blackhawks are the worst team in the playoffs on the road with the man advantage. And it's quite possibly the single element that is most critical for the Blackhawks to fix if they are going to even this series Monday. They have scored the first goal in all three games and have forced the Kings onto their heels early on, including forcing the Kings into minor penalties early in the game. ...
A year ago, when the Blackhawks dispatched the Kings in five games in the Western Conference finals, it was clear the Kings were not the Kings of 2012. They were banged up and worn down. Are we seeing a mirror image with the Blackhawks, who played a ton of hockey in winning the Cup last year during a lockout-shortened season that went to June 24? Throw in the compressed schedule of this past season and the fact that 10 Blackhawks played in Sochi at the Olympics, and is it not possible that this team is simply fatigued and that, conversely, the Kings are in a better spot than a year ago, even though they had to endure two seven-game series to get here?...
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
“I don’t think I’ve played up to par for myself the first three games of the series,” said Kane, following Blackhawks practice Sunday. “It would be nice to turn that around and play good in Game 4 – take it as a new game, wipe the slate clean, come out with a good attitude Monday and see what happens.”
According to Kings defenceman Drew Doughty, the game plan against Kane and Sharp thus far has worked to perfection.
“You want to frustrate them, give them no room and play them physically,” Doughty said. “We know that Kane likes to pick up the puck, kind of be fancy, have a lot of room and gain speed that way. So we’re just trying to limit the ice for him – and play him hard. It’s the same with Sharp. Even though they haven’t done much lately, we know they’re going to have their best game in Game 4. We got to be prepared for that.”
You have to think all the hockey the Blackhawks have played over the past two seasons – a deep run into June last year, when they won the Stanley Cup, followed by an early start to this season, followed by their Olympic participation, followed by another run to the third round – may be taking a collective physical toll on them.
from Mike Brophy of CBC,
Look out Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter is nipping at your heels.
With his fourth goal in two games (fifth in three), Carter has helped the Los Angeles Kings erase an early 1-0 deficit and take a 2-1 lead in the Western Conference final.
Entering the series Kopitar was running away with the playoff scoring lead, but he has been mostly silent against the Chicago Blackhawks. He has one assist in three games and has been otherwise invisible.
Carter, on the other hand, has been electric. He had an assist in Game 1; three goals and four points in Game 2 and Saturday continued to rock with a goal and two assists. That leaves him with eight goals and 19 points in 17 games; one point behind Kopitar.
from Rick Telander of the Chicago Sun-Times,
These Kings aren’t paupers. For now, though, they’re rulers. They went on to win 4-3 and are up two games to one.
The question is, why do the Hawks do great things early, then seem to turn into another team? Would it have been asking too much of them to feed off Toews’ intensity and keep piling on, to be the bullies and not the patsies? Their third periods are starting to resemble nap time in kindergarten. Shots seem to be as hard to get off as that last curl in a set of 30.
Are the Hawks tired? Are they only capable of full ignition when facing disaster?
They didn’t want to lose this game after being ahead twice. They didn’t want to lose this game in any fashion.
‘‘It’s disappointing,’’ Crawford said. ‘‘Tough breaks that turn into goals. That’s the story the last couple of games.’’
That is an average of 6.16 goals per game in the Conference Finals.
Personally, I thought we would have been witnessing lower scoring games such as 3-2, 2-1, etc.
In round 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the average goals per game was 4.66.
So we are seeing an upward trend in goal scoring for the Conference Finals and that surprises me.
If I were a betting man, I would have thought the average goals per game would be reversed. You would think the team defense would be tighter in this round but that is not the case.
Game 3 shifts to Los Angeles with the series tied at 1-1. You can watch the game on NBC, CBC or RDS at 8:00pm ET.
Will Chicago recover from their disastrous 6-2 loss in game 2 or has Los Angeles found a weak spot in the Blackhawks defense?
We are about to find out, enjoy the game!
from Curtis Zupke at the LA Kings website,
Most of the talk after Game 2 of the Western Conference Final has been about the offensive explosion by the Los Angeles Kings, who tied a franchise Stanley Cup Playoff record with five goals in the third period against the Chicago Blackhawks.
What might be overlooked is what helped lead to those goals.
In a series between two puck-possession teams, the Kings simply had the puck more in Game 2 because they won 43 faceoffs to Chicago's 27. That bodes well for Los Angeles going into Game 3 on Saturday night at Staples Center (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, RDS). The best of-7-series is tied 1-1.
The Kings have strength down the middle with Anze Kopitar, who won 15 of 21 faceoffs in Game 2, and Jarret Stoll, who won 14 of 22 primarily against Chicago's Jonathan Toews, Michal Handzus and Marcus Kruger.
"If you can start with the puck, regardless of who you're playing, that helps," said Kings captain Dustin Brown, who plays with Kopitar and Marian Gaborik. "You notice when you're on the ice more than when you're not. I don't know what his percentage was, but [Kopitar], it seems like he hardly lost any draws, and as a result, we play a lot less in the D-zone, which is important, especially against Toews and [Marian] Hossa and [Bryan] Bickell, because they're not easy guys to defend."
from Shannon Ryan of the Chicago Tribune,
Coach Joel Quenneville is usually a morning person after games. Even losses don't seem as bad the next day.
Not so much when the sun rose on Thursday, the day after a 6-2 home loss to the Kings in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals.
“I woke up this morning way more angry than when I exited the game,” he said before the team flew to Los Angeles, where the series continues Saturday with Game 3. “Normally it’s the other way around. Certainly there’s a lot of positives to take out of the game. But the little details and the way we gave them the goals (are negatives). Exiting a game like that is a game that should get your attention.”
Quenneville’s message is to the Hawks is not to put Wednesday’s loss entirely behind them but to channel their anger.
“I think there’s got to be a reaction,” he said. “We shouldn’t be happy about it. That’s what we’re looking for. I think that’s how you get past it, doing something about it. We should be angry about how we got beat. I think there’s anger involved and that’s not a bad thing to have.”
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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