Champagne on Ice

The Chicago Blackhawks took the United Center by storm over the weekend and relegated the Kings to a 2-game deficit in their best-of-seven semifinal series. The Hawks allowed only three goals over the two games while scoring six unanswered goals to reduce the best goaltender in the world, Jonathan Quick, to mere mortal status.

On Saturday afternoon it was all about defense as the Hawks kept the highly touted Kings offense to just 22 shots on net, 21 of which Corey Crawford stopped. The next night the Hawks decided to start putting the puck in the back of the net and they did so with amazing efficiency as they scored four goals on their first 17 shots to make it an early night for Quick. Over the two games Crawford has been stellar in aggregating 50 saves.

Based on the goaltending performances during the first two rounds of the playoffs, Jonathan Quick would seem to have held the advantage over Crawford.  Some might even have suggested that the Kings were basically a mediocre team with a capital-G Goalie.  This was emphacized over the first period of the first game when the Hawks outshot the Kings 13-2 yet were losing 1-0.  Quick appeared to have the Hawks fully under his control.  However, at this juncture in the series, Quick has been severely humbled and may even be suffering from a bruised ego after the shellacking he took and early exit he suffered in game 2.

The series is far from over, but the Kings have their work cut out for them needing to win four out of five against a team as good as Chicago. The Hawks offense seems to be back in its midseason form after last night’s eruption, so it’s not enough for the Kings to rely on just a little home cooking.  That being said, the Kings have been the best home team in the playoffs over the last two years and have yet to lose at the Staples Center this playoffs.

Chicago’s coaching staff knows that Game 3 will be an all out war as LA will looking at the game as do or die. The Kings have been in this position before when they dropped the first two games to the Blues in the opening round before winning four straight to sweep the series unconventionally.  The Kings understand what it’s like to be in a hole; after all, they won the cup last year as the eighth seed in the West and know it isn’t over until the weight-challenged lady sings the Chicago blues.