The Los Angeles Kings hoped to be in a different state of mind by this point of the week.
It is the first day of June and the Stanley Cup Final is set to get underway in just three days. The Eastern Conference already has a representative, the New York Rangers who eliminated the Montreal Canadiens in game six three days ago.
The Kings likely wanted to be at home resting by this point in time and looking ahead to a matchup against the Rangers for the Stanley Cup. Instead they are gearing up for a decisive game seven against the Chicago Blackhawks in Chicago.
There has been plenty of chances for the Kings to make their hopes into a reality. They went up on the Blackhawks 3-1 in the series. They gave themselves a strangle hold early in a series against one of the NHL’s strongest opponents. An opponent that should not be allowed to linger in a series and should be disposed of as quickly as possible if possible.
The Kings did not get rid of the Blackhawks.
Instead, the Kings went into Chicago for game five and lost a heart breaker. They gave up a lead in the third period and traded blows with Chicago until early in the second overtime. That is when former King, Michal Handzus, ended the game and forced a game six in Los Angeles.
You know what, that happens. You play a team on the road in the playoffs and you take it to two overtimes. You can’t complain about that. Any ways, the next game is at home and the Kings will just win on home ice.
Rather, it was much of the same for the Kings. They went up 3-2 about eight minutes into the third period, a situation any Kings fan should want and see as time for Kings hockey. Play their shutdown style of hockey and finish it out. Nope. Instead Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith scored two goals in the last ten minutes of the game, the game winner in the last five, to send this series back to Chicago.
This is sports, this why we hate it and why we love it. It is unpredictable and that is why we can not be mad when our team comes out on the wrong end of these unforeseeable events. However, what we can be upset about is what could have been done better.
The Kings had the lead late in games five and six, yet we are still playing. They had all the momentum in the third period of game six, scoring two goals to take that lead and let it vanish. Chicago jumped right through a window and back into this series, a window that the Kings left wide open after numerous chances to slam it shut.
The one player that provided the Blackhawks with a boost up and through that window is Kane. Through the first four games of this series Kane was virtually invisible on the ice. He put up zero goals, was a minus three and only took seven shots. He wasn’t a force and everyone was asking the same question. What is wrong with Kane?
Well, two games later people are again calling him one of the world’s most clutch athletes and are putting his name on the list of Conn Smythe hopefuls. In games five and six, Kane has recorded seven points, is a plus three and fired ten shots on net. Of those seven points, two of them were goals in game six, one of them being the game winner ultimately forcing game seven.
The Kings have been in this situation before, game seven on the road. But they were the team forcing the game seven. In the first round coming back from a 0-3 hole in the series to eliminate the San Jose Sharks. In the second round winning three straight and eliminating the Anaheim Ducks.
This is quite the opposite, the Kings are the ones on their heels and have lost two straight going into game seven. Are the Kings going to be the Sharks or Ducks of this series? God I hope not.
If the Kings come out on top at the end of game seven, great. We will be on our way to our second Stanley Cup Final in three years. But if they don’t, both the Kings and their fans will have all summer to look back and contemplate all of the missed opportunities in the last two games.
Tags: Los Angeles Kings