Jun 2, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Los Angeles Kings left wing Dustin Penner (25) tries to settle the puck for a shot against Chicago Blackhawks players Jonathan Toews (19) , Niklas Hjalmarsson (4) and Corey Crawford (50) during the second period in game two of the Western Conference finals of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports
Right now, the Chicago Blackhawks and their fans are feeling pretty comfortable, as the Hawks lead the Los Angeles Kings 2-0 in the Western Conference Finals. Things are about to get a lot trickier tonight, as the Hawks head to L.A for the next two games at the Staples Center, where the Kings are undefeated, with a 7-0 record at home, during the playoffs. What exactly do the Hawks have to do, to give the Kings their first home playoff loss?
1. Pedal to the metal
First and foremost, the Hawks absolutely must keep up the insane pressure on the Kings, to coincide with the insane pressure that the Kings must be putting on themselves, at this point. It would be easy for the Hawks to get complacent and feel comfortable with their 2-0 series lead, in which they earned in dominating fashion, but that would likely lead to a Kings victory. If the Hawks keep pushing, and firing as hard as they have been the first two games of the series, that combined with the pressure the Kings are putting on themselves, will surely lead to a Blackhawks victory. The Kings are a fragile team right now, especially after the pulling of world-talent goaltender Jonathan Quick. It would be in the Hawks best interests to take advantage of that.
2. Be very aware of the Kings
By that I mean, be aware of the Kings situational success, that the Hawks are sort of playing into. Like I mentioned before, the Kings are 7-0 at home, this post-season. So, what the Hawks are trying to accomplish, hasn’t been done yet. The Kings are a completely different hockey team on their home ice. For whatever reason that is, they are just a tale of two teams, in the playoffs. The Hawks need to be aware of that, along with the feeling of desperation that was certainly been felt throughout the Kings locker room. The Kings were also trailing the St. Louis Blues 2-0 in the first round of this year’s post-season, and overcame that deficit. While everything is looking in favor of the Hawks, so far this series, they have to be aware that they are the ones in uncharted territory at this moment, not the Kings. This series is far from over.
3. Remember the Red Wings
This sort of goes with the whole avoiding becoming complacent idea. The last time the Hawks were in such comfortable position, was after Game 1 of the Western Conference Semi-Finals, against the Detroit Red Wings. The Hawks dominated Game 1, and it looked like they would run all over the Wings throughout the series. We all remember what happened. The Hawks LET the Red Wings, not only back in the series, but opened the door for them to storm all the way to a 3-1 series lead. The Hawks comeback in that series was one for the ages, and arguably the turning point of the season. At that point, the Hawks had faced very little adversity during the entire regular season, and the playoffs. When Detroit had the Hawks’ backs against the wall, the Hawks showed the world exactly what they were made of, and they haven’t looked back since. That killer instinct has carried over to this series, and the Kings have been unable to figure it out. Now, the Hawks are in another situation of comfort, and breathing room. That along with a Kings team that is hungry, angry, and desperate to claw their way back into this series, might make the Hawks a tad vulnerable. To remedy any of their vulnerabilities, all the Hawks have to do is remember the series against the Red Wings, and the motivation that came from it.
Things are looking very good for the Hawks, but this is the NHL and you never know what could happen. Just last year this very same Kings team stormed their way from an 8th seed all the way to Stanley Cup Champions, in a dominating fashion that had never been seen before. Anything can happen, and the Blackhawks need to be aware of that.