King and Hawks: A Battle of Styles, a Battle of Wills, a Battle of Dynastys


It’s not just a matter of systems, it’s a matter of style.

The two rulers of the Western Conference are the Los Angeles Kings and the Chicago Blackhawks.  In the last five years each team has won two Stanley Cups, and Chicago has won two division titles.

Other than success, championships, and the will to win; these two clubs have very little in common.  It’s just one of the reasons their playoff battles are so epic, and so entertaining.

Individual games are series battles to see which team will establish dominance, exerting their will and forcing a particular-preferred style of play.  Styles in play is fueled by momentum shifts throughot the course of a game. These ebbs and flows will, ultimately, decide the game’s outcome.

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The Blackhawks are a puck possession team.  Possession is the core, and most important aspect of their strategy.  Maintaining control of the puck means maintaining control of the game.  It’s a very logical way to play the game.  The puck is the game, the more puck control you have the more you control the game, and what your opponent is allowed to do.  Greater puck possession means your opponent isn’t controlling the puck, so you have more opportunities to score and dictate the flow of the game while at the same time denying your opponent these opportunities.

When the Hawks are on defense, the main focus is to get the puck, and get it back with urgency.  Press, take chances – because of a talented roster, players know a teammate will back them up or backup a mistake; so they can press.  Get the puck back.  Then hang onto it.  Be patient.  They have the talent to move the puck around and pick their chances.  Controlling the play in the offensive zone, which in the long run of a game or a series will wear opponents out, because opponents must waste energy chasing the Hawks, trying to keep up.

The Kings are a physical, cut-down-opportunities team.  The focus is space on the ice.  The Kings strategy is to keep the puck in the opposing teams end longer than their end.  No matter who controls the puck.

The Kings have a simple, but extremely efficient breakout.  It’s a maximum of 1 or 2 passes.  The puck is always moving forward.  Whether you have to dump the puck into the offensive zone, or skate with it.  It’s simple.  Play tough defense, don’t give the other team an inch.  Opponents can hang on and control the puck all they want, but don’t let them advance it an inch.  Unless opponents are in prime scoring position don’t run around and chase.  It’s about the real estate on the ice: location, location, location or Position, position, position.

The Blackhawks were second in the NHL in Goals For (GF) during the 2013-2014 season with 182.  The Kings ranked 27th with 129.

In Goals Against (GA) the Kings ranked 1st in the NHL with 103, and the Blackhawks ranked 17th with 148 GA.   Net Goals: Chicago: +34, L.A.: +26.

Chicago was 1st in Shots For (SF) with 2159, L.A. was 7th with 1982.  L.A. was 2nd in Shots Against (SA) 1589, Chicago was 5th with 1729.  The net, Chicago was +430, and L.A. was +393.

The Hawks finished 5th in the Western Conference with 107 points, the Kings finished 6th with 100.  What do these number mean?

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  • Both of these teams win, but they do it in different ways.  The Hawks are offensive puck-control team.  The Kings are a position first team.  It’s about the flow vs. structure.  The Hawks prefer flow and offensive opportunities.  They score more, but they give up more defensively.  The Kings don’t give up quality scoring chances, which limits their goals against.  This restricts the number of scoring chances the Kings will have, but with the Kings talent they can capitalize and win.

    The most telling statistic, that examplifies how these two teams play the game?

    The Kings registered 2,609 hits last season.  The Blackhawks had 1,375.  The Kings ranked tie for 1st, the Hawks 30th, in the NHL in this category.

    Hawks play the puck.  Kings play the body, and space.

    In the last five years these strategies and styles we instrumental in both teams showing off the will and know-how to win.  As a result both teams have been discussed as potential dynasties.  The Hawks lost that chance to the last season, when they were defeated by the Kings.  Now it’s up to this years Kings to one-up their Western Conference rival and secure their place as one of the greatest teams of all time.

    Jun 1, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; (EDITORS NOTE: caption correction due to official scoring change) Los Angeles Kings defenseman Alec Martinez (27) is congratulated by his teammates after scoring the game-winning goal against the Chicago Blackhawks during the overtime period in game seven of the Western Conference Final of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

    Jun 1, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews (19) shakes hands with Los Angeles Kings defenseman Matt Greene (2) after game seven of the Western Conference Final of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports