Stu Grimson is attending to some other duties today so I’m going to guest in under his Kings/Blackhawks blog and set up tonight’s Game Three.
This is a completely different situation from the hot knife through butter that was last year’s LA Kings team. They’ve been down 2-0 in each series so far and had to battle through an extremely physical one against St. Louis before being pushed to the edge in the Sharks series. Is fatigue a factor?
It would be hard to argue otherwise, especially since last year’s team got far more rest between series yet managed to stay sharp (also tough to do). If anything, this really is the manifestation of the hard series against the Blues showing itself because Chicago also had to go seven against Detroit but certainly hasn’t been in a physically punishing series yet.
Of course the Kings aren’t making excuses, but they are missing key contributions from two of last year’s biggest playoff heroes: Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar. Both players are certainly aware that they need to produce and have not ducked that responsibility, even with the media. They realize for the Kings to beat Chicago they have to step up and put the puck in the net. It will also help take the pressure off Jeff Carter and Mike Richards, although it’s notable that only Richards has double-digit points at 10. Slava Voynov is right there tied for second on the team with Carter at nine points.
Largely the Kings have been getting it done by committee, spreading the scoring around and relying on Jonathan Quick to do the rest. But now they find themselves facing a teamwith tremendous depth in Chicago that can put the puck in the net over all four lines, and instead of winning 1-0 or 2-1 it now becomes a race to three or four goals – a game that Chicago is more adapted to playing.
Ultimately the Kings haven’t dropped a game at home in 73 days. They’ve won 14 in a row at home, seven of those have been in this post-season. Tonight they need to set the tone and attack the Blackhawks early. Playing with the lead is what will get LA a much-needed win tonight in Game Three.
Until next time, keep your stick on the ice.