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Kings put Blackhawks on brink of elimination with Game 4 victory

May 26, 2014, 11:42 PM EDT

The L.A. Kings are one win away from making it back to the Stanley Cup Final for the second time in three years. Meanwhile, the defending champs, the Chicago Blackhawks, are on the verge of elimination.

The Kings, champions two years ago, got off to a roaring start in a pivotal Game 4 Monday, stunning the Blackhawks by opening up a three-goal lead in the first period, before adding to that in the second period, before finally taking this one by a final of 5-2. The Kings now lead the best-of-seven Western Conference Final 3-1.

For the Blackhawks, it was a disastrous start. They were given two chances on the power play before the game was even 10 minutes old, but their second advantage was wiped out when Marian Hossa was involved in a crease collision with Kings’ goalie Jonathan Quick and called for goalie interference.

One play early in a game. True. But L.A. eventually got the power play and made Chicago pay, when Jake Muzzin beat Corey Crawford with a perfect wrist shot. Difficult for the Blackhawks goalie to make any kind of save with Jeff Carter standing right in front of the net.

The Blachawks did make things interesting, after it earlier appeared like they would get run out of the building by the host Kings.

Brandon Saad got Chicago on the board with a beautiful backhand shot in the second period, and Bryan Bickell cut the deficit to two goals before the midway point of the third.

They wouldn’t get any closer. That’s not three straight losses in these playoffs for Chicago. Their top players struggled throughout Monday’s game, with L.A. capitalizing in the first period on turnovers from Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith.

Patrick Kane, who didn’t have a point in this series through the first three games, added an assist on the Bickell goal, but he hasn’t scored in the last four games.

The series shifts back to Chicago, and the Kings have a chance to eliminate the Blackhawks.

  1. kaptaanamerica - May 26, 2014 at 11:46 PM

    Twinkle Twinkle…. what’s Toes gonna say tonite. does he still like the work ethic, blah, blah, blah,… give credit to the Kings Toes.. btw Keith looked like a farfegnugen pylon out there… goes blowing by him, goals being scored. Kopitar bent Keith over in corner to setup a goal.

    • slysipops - May 27, 2014 at 11:20 AM

      hey dip$hit, why don’t you get off of TOEWS case and comment about KANE ? he’s the one making all the personal empty suit promises . NO GUTS …NO GLORY

  2. canucks30 - May 26, 2014 at 11:47 PM

    Corey Crawford reminds me of Cam Ward.

    A very good but not elite goaltender who put together one magical playoff performance.

    • suesawicki2000 - May 26, 2014 at 11:51 PM

      Funny, first game in Chicago, NBC announcers, bragging about Crawford being an elite goalie. Hmmmm… haven’t heard that since. Good job Kings, just 1 more, and on to the cup. GO KINGS GO!!!!!!!!!!

      • hrudey - May 26, 2014 at 11:54 PM

        To be fair to the guy, it’s pretty near impossible to win games when the opposition can get to the front of the net easily and consistently. Even the game the Blackhawks won, the Kings were getting a lot of odd man rushes and some pretty decent chances in front of Crawford, but they couldn’t get any of them to go in that day. Right now, the Kings’ top line and scoring depth is just outclassing Chicago’s, which is a major switch from last season. But ask San Jose and Anaheim how easy that fourth win is, though hopefully the Kings can put the series away Wednesday.

      • Professor Fate - May 27, 2014 at 12:01 AM

        hrudey-
        Completely agree. Crawford had very little defense in front of him for the Kings’ first three goals.

    • trbowman - May 27, 2014 at 3:31 AM

      Cam Ward isn’t even “good” anymore. He’s awful. I wonder if the injuries have left him shell shocked or something…but I’ve always thought he was overrated. Ward is still riding that one playoff year he had in 2006. Give up the ghost already, Carolina.

      I still don’t get how Crawford didn’t win the Conn Smythe last year. Hell, I thought Rask had a strong argument to be Giguere 2.0 – winning it without the cup…the guy freaking held the Penguins to TWO goals in FOUR games. He was absurd last year. 940 save percentage in the playoffs.

      • 19to77 - May 27, 2014 at 4:04 AM

        Agreed. He played out of his damn mind last year. Bettman just wanted to sell Kane as the new Roenick to the American market. Crawford was more deserving by far, he just wasn’t American. To be clear, Kaner was a beast last year – but seriously, Crawford was the factor. Giving the Conn Smythe to Kane was marketing.

    • sixchr - May 27, 2014 at 10:07 AM

      Yeah, I wouldn’t call it one magical playoff performance. The Blackhawks were so good last year that they could carry an average goalie who maybe played slightly above what he was but it was by no means special. Crawford has always been average and people have tried to force it down our throats that he’s a great or elite goalie because they won the Cup last year. He started bursting at the seams at the end of game 3 and that pretty much sealed the Blackhawks’ fate.

      • fpstratton - May 27, 2014 at 3:18 PM

        Corey Crawford was magnificent in both the St. Louis and Minnesota series, but the Hawks defense this post-season has been well below their performance of last year. Up until game 2 of this series, Crawford could have been in the conversation for playoff MVP.

    • fpstratton - May 27, 2014 at 3:16 PM

      The Hawks’ defense is the problem, not Corey Crawford. He had virtually no chance on many of the goals he allowed.

  3. canucks30 - May 26, 2014 at 11:49 PM

    Blackhawks were a period away from being up 2-0 but are now down 3-1.

    Can’t afford to give teams life in the playoffs.

    • comeonnowguys - May 27, 2014 at 9:08 AM

      I know we’re a bunch of schmos on the internet, but why are we the ones who can see this?

      • slysipops - May 27, 2014 at 11:24 AM

        because we don’t get paid to say what we are told to say !

  4. canucks30 - May 26, 2014 at 11:50 PM

    Gary Bettman’s greatest fantasy is quickly becoming a reality:

    Los Angeles vs New York Stanley Cup Final

    • trbowman - May 27, 2014 at 3:24 AM

      Yeah but it’s not like the Chi-town market is lousy. Plus that team has a TON of marketability.

      But yeah, LA vs NY. It’s a dream come true for the league.

  5. AppealToReason - May 26, 2014 at 11:56 PM

    But I thought best player in the world Toews was so leader he could leadership his way to wins because leader best!

    I think my world has been turned upside down.

  6. Professor Fate - May 26, 2014 at 11:59 PM

    A chance now for L.A. to pay Chicago back for that 4-1 elimination last year. The ‘Hawks swarmed the net on Bickell’s goal like they haven’t done for quite a while, but the Kings didn’t break. One more win, boys, and it’s back to the finals.

    • trbowman - May 27, 2014 at 3:25 AM

      I love the Kings (favorite West team) and the Hawks are one of my least favorite hockey teams.

      That said, they won’t go down quietly. They’re gonna come hard, and LA needs to be ready.

      But we all know they will be. They will be.

      Jonny Quick vs his childhood team and Lundqvist. My popcorn is ready.

    • comeonnowguys - May 27, 2014 at 9:11 AM

      It’s score effects. I’ve been only able to watch the first period of 3 and listened to all of 4, but the third period reeked of “Team A has a three goal lead.”

      Chicago is not playing like a team that wins a Cup. Flat out.

  7. canada2014gold - May 27, 2014 at 12:02 AM

    Lol I have never heard leadership used as a verb before, that’s funny.

  8. salmon90 - May 27, 2014 at 12:03 AM

    If it means we don’t have to hear about Toews being the best player in the world anymore go Kings!

  9. tuberippin - May 27, 2014 at 12:06 AM

    LA, your 2013-14 Stanley Cup champions.

    • canucks30 - May 27, 2014 at 12:11 AM

  10. billiam55 - May 27, 2014 at 12:10 AM

    chicago hungover from last year. .

    • canucks30 - May 27, 2014 at 12:13 AM

      Hangover you say?

    • slysipops - May 27, 2014 at 11:27 AM

      no just stagnant ! NO GUTS …NO GLORY !

  11. afrancis55 - May 27, 2014 at 12:26 AM

    And the bandwagon Blackhawk ‘fans’ are nowhere to be found.

    • r8rbhawk - May 27, 2014 at 1:14 AM

      I don’t recognize your username, are you new to PHT?

    • comeonnowguys - May 27, 2014 at 9:19 AM

      Are you a Kings fan? If so, I hope the irony of that statement is not lost on anyone.

    • slysipops - May 27, 2014 at 11:31 AM

      we’ve been here…at least some of us have been, BUT your name looks new! now that your team is up 3/1 did you get enough courage to crawl out from under your rock …or surface from MOM’S basement ?

    • afrancis55 - May 27, 2014 at 12:25 PM

      No I’m not a Kings fan(I could say the same thing about Kings fans if Chicago was up 3-1) and I’ve been on PHT along with Hardballtalk and Collegefootballtalk for several months now, I just don’t post very often.

      • r8rbhawk - May 27, 2014 at 4:33 PM

        good deal, not that it really matters who you are a fan of, part of what I was meaning was I would have expected Patthehockeyfan, Blommer, Nightfire, Aldog, Suesawacki, maybe President Logan, and heaven forbid kaptaanamerica to call out the Hawk fans for not providing much commentary after the game. I really did not recognize your username, but that makes sense, since as you said, you do not post very often. I’m giving my fellow Hawk fans a pass for not “showing up” after the game last night. Long holiday weekend with work the next day and our team played like absolute dog crap. I don’t think anyone had much to say. I see we have had more representation today, they probably had time to hit the reset button.

    • slysipops - May 27, 2014 at 7:52 PM

      LOOK UP newbee ! chump !

  12. blomfeld - May 27, 2014 at 12:27 AM

    DO THE HUSTLE !!!

    “LA Kings are number one !” … Li Keqiang / Premier of the People’s Republic of China

    Friends, just like when the Beatles first appeared in America on the Ed Sullivan Show 50 years ago back in ’64, tonight people across the globe were tuned in to witness ‘that’ which God wanted … and man were they ever given show eh ? Quick, Doughty, Mitchell, Brown, Kopitar and ‘That Seventies Line’ etc … it’s like, what more could a reasonable person ask for ? :)

    GO 70′s LINE !!! … GO LA KINGS !!! … TOMORROW IS OURS !!!!!!!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wj23_nDFSfE

    • canucks30 - May 27, 2014 at 12:40 AM

      Blomfeld, you’re older than Methuselah.

      No one understands your archaic pop culture references.

    • joey4id - May 27, 2014 at 8:10 AM

      Menacing hockey machine! C’est incroyable! Who said Sutter’s time had passed? Reveal yourself.

  13. blomfeld - May 27, 2014 at 12:39 AM

    Hey Slysipops & friends … somebody has to win, right ? :)

    • mangoman1966 - May 27, 2014 at 1:21 AM

      This song came out 2 yrs after the flayers won their last cup.lol

      • canucks30 - May 27, 2014 at 1:47 AM

        1977 is also the last time blomfeld got laid.

    • slysipops - May 27, 2014 at 11:34 AM

      yeah …it don’t work with ties !

      • slysipops - May 27, 2014 at 11:38 AM

  14. muckleflugga - May 27, 2014 at 12:55 AM

    blomfeld

    technically speaking, the beatles appeared on the jack paar program about a month before their appearance on ed sullivan … paar showed film clips of a then recent beatles’ performance

    though he upstaged sullivan, ed was kind enough to save a seat for paar’s daughter when the beatles eventually appeared on sullivan

    paar broke a lot of ground in the emerging medium of television, and was way out there by any standard … carson tried, but only came close a few times [ ed ames and the tomahawk ]

    it is said, there was before paar then below paar …

    watch contemporary late night talk television with canned try-hard humour and laugh tracks, you’ll soon understand the below paar reference

    • blomfeld - May 27, 2014 at 1:42 AM

      Parr ‘excellence” ? …

      friend, the closest I’ve ever come to doing that was a ’77′ at Grandview GC (Custer WA) three years ago … since then however, my game has slipped somewhat due to the ‘ever-mounting’ demands of my current work and various related activities … nonetheless, your point is well taken … Jack Parr was very ‘avant-garde’ as the French might say and no doubt he blazed a trail for others to follow … anyway, I will forever remember that Sunday night when the Beatles performed on the Ed Sullivan Show back in ’64 … we were living in NDG in Montreal at the time and I was only five years old … I will always remember my late dear English mum saying ‘look at how long their hair is’ while my stern German dad lamented about Lennon looking like he ‘wants to go ‘cacka’ or something?” … those were good times friend … :)

  15. r8rbhawk - May 27, 2014 at 1:21 AM

    I am holding out hope the kings will have a three game losing streak like they had in their previous two series. I’m not counting my team out yet. Kings PP is just too good and Hawks PK has gone cold. See you Wednesday

  16. bighossa - May 27, 2014 at 1:29 AM

    R8rbhawk I’m not gonna go on record and say they’ll come back and win but at least win one more at home

    • r8rbhawk - May 27, 2014 at 1:45 AM

      I think you are right, they can’t go out with a whimper. The Kings really are firing on all cylinders, the last time the hawks got worked like this was when the lost to the Wings in ’09. Yeah they lost to Van in ’11 and Phx in ’12
      but those series felt a lot closer than this one (even though Hawks were down 3-0 to Van).

    • blomfeld - May 27, 2014 at 1:56 AM

      “I’m not gonna go on record and say they’ll come back” …

      Yeah, well check this out pal … I ‘will’ go on the record here at PHT by saying that you Hawks are now going to disappear faster than a Bic Mac positioned within 0.35 meters of Oprah Winfrey !

      • r8rbhawk - May 27, 2014 at 2:03 AM

        Nothing can disappear as fast as that Big Mac. The burger makes a sonic boom with how fast she inhales it.

      • canucks30 - May 27, 2014 at 2:18 AM

      • slysipops - May 27, 2014 at 11:41 AM

        enjoying yourself BLOMS ? go for it ! i don’t blame you a bit !

    • comeonnowguys - May 27, 2014 at 9:20 AM

      Yep, but unless they really show something, it’s going to be a Dead Cat Bounce.

  17. buffedman - May 27, 2014 at 1:43 AM

    Sweet

  18. bighossa - May 27, 2014 at 2:11 AM

    That’s a bold statement seeing as they’re down 3-1 and all. Lol

  19. aldog83 - May 27, 2014 at 2:36 AM

    “IMPRESSIVE” – DARTH VADER

  20. slysipops - May 27, 2014 at 12:09 PM

    just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse then game 3 … in comes game 4 ! YIKES ! did anyone else ( like the glorious HAWKS coaching staff….. loose term ,i know ) notice how at least one or two KINGS were constantly allowed to roam loose in front of the CHICAGO net ?? the team looks very stagnant and disinterested . have they aged beyond their birth-dates? the #1 D unit making more mistakes than the # 3 unit … forwards who can’t make passes or catch passes or stick handle. yes the KINGS are great , but the HAWKS didn’t with CUPS playing slouches ! there is a definite difference in this years team ….. will it get better a year farther down the road.. of course not ! especially with a coach who refuses to replace aging players with youth and a general manager who gives away youth( 2 players ) to buy a player ( VERSTEEG ) who lost his usefulness with 2 other teams already ! no lesson learned ? WHY would a young player want to come into the BLACKHAWK system ? they might retire from the minor leagues without a chance at the NHL ! is it time for a revamp …coaches and some players. maybe some grit players ? enough with the empty suit yapping from KANE also !

    • slysipops - May 27, 2014 at 5:45 PM

      Kris Versteeg is still in the playoffs. Dylan Olsen and Jimmy Hayes have been playing 36 holes a day for over a month. It would seem the Blackhawks made out well in the trade that brought Versteeg back to Chicago after 2.5 seasons in Florida. Or did they?

      Florida GM Dale Tallon must have really wanted Versteeg out of town if he agreed to pay $2.2 million of his salary through next season, so there may be some addition by subtraction in Sunrise.

      Olsen and Hayes paid immediate dividends upon arriving in Florida, making Tallon look like a genius. But Olsen caught the injury bug and Hayes struggled to earn consistent ice time…UNTIL…former head coach Peter Horachek decided they needed a big body in front of the net on the power play. Hayes fit the bill perfectly. His 11 goals in 53 games were a direct result of him getting into the dirty areas on the PP and his massive 6’6″, 220 lb. frame was very tough for opposing defensemen to deal with. How much that is worth moving forward remains to be seen, but this RFA could be a very valuable 4th line RW in the future.

      Dylan Olsen came out of the gate on fire with the Panthers. Many of us in the media were looking at each other with astonishment as he showed great toughness and a good offensive game. After arriving in early December he recorded a point in 6 of 7 games from the 5th-17th, including 3 goals, but quickly fizzled out. He only played 4 games between Dec. 31st and March 1st due to injury/Olympics, and never got his early mojo back upon returning. But he’s only played 72 NHL games so he surely will improve and grow into his abilities. As another pending RFA, how much is that potential worth?

      Versteeg’s numbers were, well, very Versteeg-like this season. His 36 points in 81 games this year and 3 points in 12 playoff games are quite pedestrian in relation to his salary. Those kinds of numbers and questionable attitude were worth paying to get out of town as far as Tallon was concerned.

      It looks like Tallon made the right decision. When this trade originally happened it screamed (partial) salary dump. Hayes and Olsen could be perennial AHLers or one/both could be good, reliable players starting next season. Either way, it was a worthy risk to take when the Panthers are probably two years away from making any real noise in the league. That coincides perfectly with Versteeg’s salary coming off the books.

      It would be surprising if Tallon did not offer Olsen and/or Hayes. While a 3rd or 4th line RW is not hard to find on the market, a player with Hayes’ size is. If he can be had for $1 million per, it should be a done deal.

      Potentially strong two-way defensemen do not grow on trees, so it would be even more shocking if Tallon did not offer Olsen a contract to continue to grow within the organization. He has about 200 NHL games left to really come into his own, so the verdict is still out on the type of player he can be.

      Kris Versteeg seems to have plateaued in terms of production, and at times seems disinterested in the game. Tallon likely agrees with this assessment, which is why Steeger is elsewhere.

      As the Panthers continue to build towards the near future, certain players do and don’t fit the culture Tallon is trying to create. Versteeg wasn’t one of them. Olsen and Hayes should be given every opportunity to fill that void as well as others that will be created when some of the older players start to leave town.

      Despite my criticism, Versteeg was always great with me in my meetings with him and I wish him and the Blackhawks nothing but the best.

      Dan Spiegel
      Florida Panthers Media

  21. slysipops - May 27, 2014 at 6:22 PM

    more on the HAWKS problems ……Follow JJ on Twitter @jaeckel!

    In the second round of last year’s Stanley Cup playoffs, the Blackhawks came back from a 3-1 deficit to beat the Detroit Red Wings and advance to face the team that now has them down 3-1 in this year’s Western Conference Finals: the L.A. Kings.

    So there’s certainly precedent that the Hawks can come back in this series—the Kings themselves came back from a 3-1 series deficit this postseason.

    But the way the Hawks—and especially the Kings—are playing, it doesn’t look terribly likely. My crystal ball says the Hawks take game 5 in Chicago tomorrow night, then come back to LA for a Game 6 capitulation.

    But if the Hawks can find some mojo in Game 5, and some momentum to go with it, game 6 could be a different story.

    Right now, if you’re head coach Darryl Sutter and his L.A. Kings you have to feel real good about your chances, though.

    It’s probably too early, definitely too early, for a post-mortem on the Hawks. But the Kings are forcing the Hawks to play a game that they don’t like to play, because they’re also not well-suited to playing it. There’s a reason that Hawk Coach Joel Quenneville is using Bryan Bickell on his top line, and that line, with Joanthan Toews at center, is producing. And the only line that’s producing.

    The Kings are jamming up the middle of the ice, forcing the Hawks to dump and chase, and the Kings larger blueliners are stopping the generally tiny Hawk forwards cold. Simply standing them up and allowing Jonathan Quick or another King defender to play the puck and start the break.

    The Kings are also just smothering Hawk forwards when they do gain possession of the puck down low. You can’t fault Ben Smith or Marcus Kruger for their effort. They’re just not big enough or strong enough to beat this pressure consistently.

    Although it was fairly obviously too late, the Hawks did look good in the third period last night with a goal and many more quality scoring chances. But they will have to play that way, with defensemen pinching and taking chances the rest of the series. They will have to throw the kitchen sink at the Kings, at least to get the series to 3-2 or 3-3, and maybe also pray for a little luck.

    But what we are seeing rekindles the endless debate in the hawk fanabse: pretty, finesse hockey versus physical hockey.

    Here’s the thing. Look not further than the line that’s just destroying the Hawks: Pearson, Carter and Toffoli. Big, skilled and fast.

    I give Stan Bowman a lot of credit for many of the things he’s done, but one area where he is paying through the nose right now is in constantly swapping out bigger players (especially forwards) for tiny players.

    Think about it: Andrew Ladd, Dustin Byfuglien, Troy Brouwer, Michal Frolik. And if you look at the return Bowman got for those guys? Not bloody much to show.

    I am a big believer and proponent of smaller guys like Kruger and Peter Regin who “play big.” But at some point, you just have to have some size with some speed to go with it. That’s the way the league is going. Not just size and grind. But size and speed.

    I love Brandon Saad’s wheels and hands. But he basically plays 20 pounds lighter than he is.

    All those who constantly bash Brandon Bollig aren’t wrong in that he’s not a great hockey player. But they are shooting the messenger in a way. The real issue is that Joel Quenneville has so few options in terms of power forwards. Marian Hossa can and occasionally will play that style, but he is really more of a technically elite, 2-way winger who relies on positioning and his stick. Toews is a power player. Bickell is. After that?

    Yes, you can point to Michal Handzus and Michal Rozsival as examples of large players Bowman has added. But you can also point to them and say they’ve stunk this postseason. And if anything, Rozsival has lost (another) step since last season.

    The Kings’ size and speed together is wearing the Hawks down.

    The Hawk power play is dreadful, and if they do bow out in the next game or two, the coaching staff, Quenneville and two of his hand-picked cronies, need to be held responsible.

    The truth us, if the Hawks could advance in this series and eventually take the Cup, they would qualify as really the first Dynasty in the post-salary cap era.

    If this series goes the way it’s looking as though it will, that dream dies. And that would be a shame.

    Back with a Game 5 Preview tomorrow.

    JJ

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