The Blackhawks fell one goal short of reaching the Stanley Cup Final. They were defeated by the LA Kings. This is the second trip in three years for Kings to the Stanley Cup Final. There were many factors why the Blackhawks did not repeat as Stanley Cup Champions. Hockey is the hardest sport to repeat in. 98 Detroit Red Wings.
After mourning the loss, here are the five reasons the Blackhawks fell to the LA Kings.
1. The Blackhawks could not hold a lead: The Blackhawks lead Game 2, 2-1 heading into the third period. They would give up 5 unanswered goals and lose 6-2. In Game 3, the Blackhawks lead 2-1 going into the second period. The Blackhawks lost that game 4-3. In Game 5, The Blackhawks lead 2-0 and 3-1 in the first period alone. The Kings would tie the game and force into overtime where Michal Handzus won it in overtime. In Game 6, The Blackhawks lead 2-1, but could not hold the lead. They trailed 3-2 in the third period. Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith scored two third period goals to help the Blackhawks win. In Game 7, the Blackhawks lead 2-0, 3-1, and 4-3 but could not hold a lead. The Blackhawks lost game 7 and this series because they could not hold a lead.
2. The Blackhawks defense/goal tending was worse against the Kings. The Kings averaged four goals a game against the Blackhawks in the Western Conference Final. In the series against the St. Louis Blues, the Blackhawks only allowed 2.33 goals per game. In the Minnesota Wild Series the Blackhawks allowed 2.16 goals against. The Blackhawks defense and goal tending could not hold down the Kings offense. This was the same trend seen in the regular season when the Blackhawks allowed 220 goals which was good for 13th in the NHL. Last season when they won the Stanley Cup, The Blackhawks were first in the NHL with 102 goals against. Corey Crawford had a 1.84 goals against average last season. This year his goal average went to 2.53.
3. The Blackhawks had no fourth line: Last season the Blackhawks could count on Dave Bolland, Michael Frolik, and Marcus Kruger to play a solid fourth line. The fourth line was on the ice for the Stanley Cup clinching goal. Dave Bolland scored the clinching goal and then had a yard sale with his gloves and stick. This season the fourth line of Michael Handzus, Brandon Bollig, and Kris Versteeg/ Peter Regin could not be counted on at all. On many occasions during this series, Coach Quenneville would stick with his top nine forwards and not even play his fourth line. Versteeg and Handzus were on the ice right before or during the season ending goal for the Blackhawks.
4. The Blackhawks do not have a second line center: The Kings has Jeff Carter on the second. Carter dominated this series. Carter had three goals in Game 2, a one goal and one assist in Game 3, one assist in Game 4, one assist in Game 5, and one goal in Game 7. The Blackhawks did not have a second line center to match Carter. The Blackhawks have not had a second line center for the last few seasons. Until Quenneville got Brandon Saad, Andrew Shaw, and Patrick Kane on the same line, the Blackhawks did not have an effective second line. The Blackhawks tried Ben Smith, Michal Handzus, and Marcus Kruger and none of them were overly effective.
5. The Blackhawks were tired: The Blackhawks had the shortest offseason of any NHL team. The Blackhawks sent ten players to the Olympics, and then played to the Western Conference Finals. This is A LOT of hockey in a one year span. In the playoffs, the Blackhawks played seven overtime games including one double overtime and one triple overtime game. Patrick Sharp looked like the only player with any juice left in Game 7.