Chicago rookie Brandon Saad got an assist on the first goal of the game. (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)
Why the Blackhawks Won: Speed, speed and more speed. This series is a showdown of conflicting styles of play and through two games it’s the Hawks’ system that has dominated. The crowd that lives for offense would be happy to see the Hawks eliminate a more knockdown approach. Corey Crawford continues to quietly do the job behind a name-heavy lineup and far and away outplayed Los Angeles’ star stopper in Game 2.
Why Los Angeles Lost: The Kings fell behind early and never caught up to the pace set by Chicago. The Kings are great at holding low-scoring leads down the stretch, but couldn’t muster enough offense to quell the Blackhawks attack and push back. And when they needed to go all-out, Los Angeles had trouble getting to the middle of the ice for offense because the Hawks speed is so suffocating. Having a gamer like Mike Richards out of the lineup was a crushing blow to the Kings as well.
Play of the Game
We’ll go with the ice-breaker, scored by Andrew Shaw. The Kings live to play with the lead and can’t seem to handle playing from behind in an open-ice game. So for the Hawks to get the first marker so early set the tone that would eventually lead to Jonathan Quick getting the hook.
1. Patrick Sharp: A real two-way leader and prime example of a skater who is all over the Kings. Sharp recorded an assist on the third and fourth goals.
2. Corey Crawford: Was spotted a lead less than two minutes into the game and kept the Kings out of it as Chicago started to apply more pressure. He made 29 saves on 31 shots.
3. Tyler Toffoli: A nod to the rookie, who was insterted into the lineup in Richards’ place and helped make his line the best for the Kings. Toffoli registered a goal and an assist.
What’s Next: The wear and tear of enduring back-to-back series against tough, gritty opponents could be taking a toll on Los Angeles. That, or they’ll come back with fire in their belly at home and suddenly look like the champions they resembled in the first two rounds. Surely something has to change in the game plan for the Kings, because they have been outclassed on back-to-back nights. The Hawks have beaten Quick twice in a row and made him look human by chasing him in Game 2. Having that confidence going into Staples Center – and a 2-0 series lead – is about the biggest boost the Hawks could give themselves. – Rory Boylen