June 4, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Kings defenseman Robyn Regehr (44) helps goalie Jonathan Quick (32) defend the goal against Chicago Blackhawks left wing Bryan Bickell (29) during the third period in game three of the Western Conference finals of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
The Los Angeles Kings‘ castle known as the Staples Center, seems to be surrounded by an impenetrable moat, that not even the red-hot Chicago Blackhawks, can find a way through.
Things are only going to get trickier for the Blackhawks in Game 4, as Duncan Keith will be out, as he serves his one-game suspension, resulting from his slash on Jeff Carter, in Game 3. This means several players will have to step-up to fill the hole left by Keith’s absence. It certainly wouldn’t hurt if the Hawks stars, played like the stars of the Hawks. I’m talking about smarter play from Patrick Sharp, along with the expected amount of production from Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. The Hawks have been able to survive the production droughts from Toews and Kane due to guys like Bryan Bickell and Michael Handzus picking up the slack. Now, with Keith out, the Hawks NEED more production in all areas of the game to make up for eveything that’s lost with Keith being out. IF the Hawks stars produce like the Hawks stars, even without Keith, the Hawks can win Game 4.
The best way for the Kings to stifle the Blackhawks, and even the series, is for Jonathan Quick to simply be himself. The bizarro version of Quick that was pulled from Game 2, was long gone by Game 3, as was the bizarro version of the Kings that was pushed all over the ice by the Hawks. In Game 3, the Kings wouldn’t allow the Hawks to get anything going offensively. Is there just something about the Staples Center ice, that only the Kings can figure out? It’s fascinating how much better the Kings looked in Game 3 when compared to Game 2. Even with the home success, the Kings need a lot more offensive production from Anze Kopitar, but as long as they can keep up their seemingly unstoppable play on home ice, they can easily even the series with Blackhawks.
It will be interesting to see how the Blackhawks react, and adjust to Keith’s absence, and one has to wonder when, or if the stars of both the Kings and Hawks will find ways to score. Should be an interesting game, with lots on the line.