Are the Kings Becoming the Hawks Kryptonite?
When the Hawks stepped on the ice at the Staples Center for Game 3, it was clear they were determined to show that they were angry about the 6 unanswered goals and uninspired play. They needed to make an early statement to make the result of Game 3 end in their favor.
Captain Jonathan Toews came out with a vengeance, reminding everyone why he is considered by some could be the best player and leader in the NHL. Not only did he score the Hawks’ first 2 goals, but he sent the message to the Kings he would not be denied. Unfortunately most of his own team missed that message.
Hawks fans easily could have considered the game to be “in the bag” after the first, as it was evident the team was out for the kill. After a Kings power play goal by Slava Voynov, Toews answered quickly putting the Hawks up again. It seemed the defending champs were settling in and taking control of the game when déjà vu from Game 2 occurred and the game started spiraling out of control once again.
The Kings scored 3 more times- all 3 coming from different scorers- before Patrick Sharp scored a goal with 4 seconds left in the third period. The late effort showed glimpses of the Blackhawks, who won the Stanley Cup a year ago, but it was too little and too late.
Looking at the last two games, it seems as though the Hawks are having trouble keeping up their intensity and focus the entire game. As in Game 2, the Kings seemed to flip a switch and make the Hawks the inferior team. It almost seems the Kings size and determination are becoming Chicago’s kryptonite.
Special teams are killing the Hawks. They gave up only 2 power play goals in their previous 13 games, and have allowed 4 in the last two. Missed power play opportunities are also a huge part of the problem- the Hawks went 0-4 last night in power play chances and are just 1-21 on the road during this postseason. This begs the question: why does such a dominant offensive team struggle so greatly to score with the man advantage? Answer: Because they need to shoot the puck on net.
Corey Crawford yet again displayed a shaky effort, allowing 4 goals with two considered soft. Crawford has been notably not as strong on the road this whole postseason, but has proven time and time again that he is capable of rising to a challenge. The Hawks best chance at re-finding their groove is to get Crawford back to his elite form; without his dominant play, they will not advance.
With this loss, the Hawks are down 2-1 in the series. Jonathan Toews stated after the game, “There’s nothing left to think about, just go out there and give everything you’ve got. It’s now or never.” If the Hawks have any hope of getting past the Kings, they have to start and finish Game 4 in the strong, gritty fashion they have proved to be capable of time and time again.