No matter how hard they tried, absolutely nothing seemed to go right for the Los Angeles Kings as they fell to pieces, ultimately losing 4-2, against the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 2 of the 2013 Stanley Cup Western Conference Finals.
There is no denying that the Blackhawks dominate when they are defending their home ice, but even the Blackhawks couldn’t have imagined the ease that they would have with the defending Stanley Cup Champions.
Now don’t get me wrong, this is series is far from over. The Blackhawks will be heading to Los Angeles to take on the Kings on Tuesday at the Staples Center. The Kings have played exceptionally well at home during the regular season. They only dropped 3 of the 21 games that they played on home ice this year.
However, no matter how well they did in regular season, if they want to continue in the post-season, they are going to have to figure out what is going wrong here. Now, if one were to follow the norm, they would quickly assume that the goalie was the issue. As someone who tries to be rather impartial on the matter and look at it from both sides, the question I would ask next is, Could it be the defense? While I will concede that they Kings could stand to tighten the reins a little on their defense, I don’t think that the defense was the major issue here.
Once Quick was pulled in the second period after Hawks center Michal Handzus just fires one right past him, making the score 4-0 in case you’re counting, Jonathan Bernier was able to hold off the Hawks assault, not allowing any goals for the remainder of the game. Honestly, I think Jonathan Quick simply had a bad night.
This is the first time in 34 consecutive games during the Stanley Cup Playoffs that the reigning Conn Smythe Trophy Winner has allowed more than 3 goals. That dates all the way back to April 25, 2011 against the San Jose Sharks in Game 6 of the Conference Quarterfinals when the Kings were eliminated in overtime.
However, on the other side of the ice, the Blackhawks offense was on fire. The Hawks drew first blood early as Brandon Saad was able to steal the puck away in the offensive zone and quickly pass it off to Viktor Stalberg, who beautifully sets up right wing Andrew Shaw for the first goal of the game at 1:56.
In case you missed the game, here is that beautiful set up and goal. Video courtesy of NHL.com
It would be another 17 minutes before Chicago would strike again. At 19:09 in the first, defenseman Brent Seabrook fired a slap shot right past Quick with assists from Marion Hossa and the captain Jonathan Toews.
The second period would be much of the same. While the Kings left wing Dwight King sat in the box for 2 minutes for Tripping Patrick Kane, Bryan Bickell with a little help, albeit unintentional, from Kings defenseman Robyn Regehr, would send the puck right between Quick’s legs making the score 3-0.
Just over 2 minutes later, Handzus would fire his wrist shot past Quick with assists from Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane. As you already know, this would be the last we would see of Jonathan Quick.
Late in the second period, the Kings tried to get some momentum going with a goal by center Jeff Carter at 18:57. However, the momentum would not propel them quite far enough. The Kings were about to squeeze in one more goal at 18:58 in the third period (now that’s some irony) when Tyler Toffoli was able to get one past Corey Crawford on the Power Play. The Kings were on the PP thanks to a Delaying the Game penalty against Hawks defenseman Duncan Keith for sending the puck over the glass. This just goes to show how one simple mistake can cost your team a goal, and in some cases, the game. Thankfully, that was not how the story ended for the Hawks.
If the Hawks continue the path that they are on, they could very easily make quick work of the defending Stanley Cup Champions and making this a four game sweep. Thankfully, the Hawks are not getting too far ahead of themselves, and are taking this one game at a time.
We know how well the Kings play in their building,” Sharp said. “The series is just getting started really.” ~ via NHL.com
The Kings and the Hawks will get the day off today, as they both prepare to head to Los Angeles on Tuesday. The game is set to start at 9:00 p.m. EST at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, and can be seen on the NBC Sports Network.
Do you think the Chicago Blackhawks are going to make short work of the defending Stanley Cup Champions, or do you think the Kings will bounce back and take control of the series? If you had to pick an MVP of the series so far, who would you choose? Sound off in the comments below and let us know!