NHL Today: Hawks Put Defending Champs in Another Hole
Andrew Shaw is providing secondary scoring for the Hawks.
In Game Two on Sunday, the Chicago Blackhawks wasted no time in jumping on Los Angeles Kings goalie supreme Jonathan Quick, scoring an early and then late in the first period and adding goals midway through the second period on consecutive shots to send him to the bench.
That was all the Hawks could muster, but it was more than enough as they hung on for a 4-2 win for their fifth straight win and a commanding 2-0 lead over the defending champions in the Western Conference Finals.
Chicago’s speed has simply proved to be too much for the Kings, but counting LA out would be foolhardy. They fell behind the Blues two games to none in the opening round and have consistently looked like a very different team in the Staples Center during these playoffs.
Andrew Shaw, who came up so big in that Game Five win over Detroit that launched Chicago’s comeback, got the party started Sunday, scoring less than two minutes into the game for his third tally in the last five games.
Now the series shifts west to Los Angeles for Game Three on Tuesday. As we mentioned, thinking Chicago is home and cooled is unwise. LA has won 14 straight at home and dug its way out of that 2-0 hole vs. St. Louis with four straight wins. No way will this team panic with all that championship confidence in the dressing room and that banner proudly hanging from the rafters.
But let’s put things in perspective: four goals against Quick and the Kings in a playoff game is seriously rare footage. LA had a run of 34 straight playoff games in which it gave up three goals or less – by far an NHL record. When Jonathan Bernier took over midway through the second, it marked the first playoff action of his career as he never got off the bench during the Kings’ run the Cup last season.
- Former star defenseman Phil Housley continues to soar up the coaching ranks, having recently been appointed as an assistant coach for the Nashville Predators. The 49-year-old was an assistant coach on Team USA’s bronze medal squad at the World Championship this spring – a gig that led to a chat with Nashville head coach Barry Trotz in Stockholm. Housley has clearly landed on the radar as a future NHL coach and is a candidate to lead the 2014 U.S. Men’s Olympic team next year in Sochi, Russia.
- Over in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Pittsburgh Penguins have already lost home-ice advantage, having dropped Game One 3-0 to the Boston Bruins on Saturday. This is the first time during these playoffs that Dan Bylsma’s squad has dropped the opening game of a series, which pretty much sets up a must-win game Monday at home. While it was admirable to see Pittsburgh’s stars standing up for themselves and mucking it up, they need to stay focused on doing their damage on the scoreboard if the Pens are going to make it to the Finals. A good start would be figuring out how to stop David Krejci. When the Bruins won the Cup in 2011, he led the league in postseason scoring and after his two goals in Game One, he’s now up to 19 points in 13 games — three points up on Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang in this season’s playoff scoring race.