NHL: Western Conference Final update
The defending Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings look to bounce back on Sunday, after a very poor performance in game one of the Western Conference Final with the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Kings were the NHL’s top puck possession team throughout the shortened 48-game regular season, but thus far in the playoffs they have struggled to gain any sort of consistency in terms of offensive pressure. Good teams find ways to win, and the Kings have done that through timely goal scoring, as well as the fantastic goaltending of last year’s Conn Smythe Trophy winner as Playoff MVP, Jonathan Quick. That being said, this club still has another gear or two that they will need to quickly find, if they want to get past the Blackhawks, who were of course this year’s President’s Trophy winner as the team who finished with the most points during the NHL regular season.
The Hawks seem to have also not played their best hockey as of yet, although perhaps game one of this series changed that. While the Hawks made quick work of the Minnesota Wild in their opening round match up, the club didn’t bring their “A” game consistently. In round two, the Hawks found themselves on the brink of elimination after four games trailing in the series 3-1 to the Detroit Red Wings. The Hawks turned things around and of course eventually went on to win the series in overtime of game seven. While the Hawks should feel good about their play in game one of this series, they also know the Kings will most likely bring more pressure in game two.
Last spring the Kings walked right through the playoffs, with an outstanding 16-4 record in route to the franchise’s first Stanley Cup Championship. They also outplayed their opponents in every series and basically almost every game. The club received great goaltending from Quick, but he did not have to steal games. So far in this year’s playoff, Quick has been standing on his head at times. Granted the Kings have probably had the toughest opponents thus far with the St. Louis Blues and San Jose Sharks, but they must find ways to generate more scoring chances and keep the puck in the Hawks end a bit more. It’s obviously great to have outstanding goaltending, but if the Kings don’t start supporting their netminder, they may not be crowned as champs once again later this month.