Observations From Section 321: We're All So Sick Of California Songs

Harry How

The LA Kings get back into the Western Conference Final with a 3-1 Game 3 win over the Blackhawks.

So that was the exact push back we expected to see from the Kings, right? Nobody thought this was really going to be a four game sweep, did they? The Blackhawks came out "flat", "a step slow", "uninspired" or whatever adjective you want to use. They were off their game for the majority of the game and Kings looked like putting on the black sweaters makes them a completely different team. Darryl Sutter finally made the adjustments to not allow the Hawks easy exits out of their own zone and was able to use the last change to get the match ups he wanted. The Blackhawks were also very lazy in the neutral zone and barely spent any time in the attack zone. As bad as the Hawks played for 50 minutes the game was still there for the taking. The Kings got a fluky game winning goal off a broken stick and needed a couple of huge Jonathan Quick saves to get the win. The Hawks will now make the adjustment for Thursday night. Playoff hockey.

The Hawks took control of Game 2 with an early 1st period goal, last night it was the Kings turn to get the early jump. LA took advantage of a rare mistake from Nick Leddy, who has been solid most of the season. The Kings were able to establish puck possession after Leddy was could not clear the zone and Justin Williams cashed in after some nice passing from Slava Voynov and Rob Scuderi. Williams was surrounded by 3 Hawks after the turnover but he did a great job maintaining possession and passing it off to his defensemen. The Hawks were lucky to escape the period down just one goal.

It would be Slava Voynov who would score the eventual game winning goal at 6:37 of the 2nd period. Voynov's goal was made possible due to one lucky break, literally. As he came down for the shot, his stick broke causing the puck to flutter towards Corey Crawford's left as opposed to his right, where he was aiming. Not much any goaltender is going to do with that one. Tyler Toffoli and Jeff Carter picked up assists on the play.

The Hawks were able to pick up a late goal from Mr Conn Smythe himself, Bryan Bickell at 19:26 of the sandwich frame. Bickell was able to take advantage of both Drew Doughty falling down and Dwight King not wanting to play a lick of defense, to score on a wrap around from behind the Kings net. The unassisted goal was Bickell's 2nd of the series and 7th of the playoffs.

The Hawks had plenty of pressure in the final 10 minutes of the game but just couldn't get the equalizer past Quick. The Hawks were trying to be too cute with the puck. Both Patrick Kane and Viktor Stalberg were among those guilty of trying to make an extra, perfect pass instead of shooting the damn puck. Bickell was flat out robbed of his 2nd goal of the night, with just over 3 minutes left, by a desperation blocker save by Quick, on a deflection. Dwight King would add the empty net goal to spare us all from millions of "Kings win 2-1" jokes on Twitter, so I thank him for that.

* Ok, lets start off with today's hot topic; Duncan Keith's stick to the face of Jeff Carter. There was no doubt Duncs wanted to give Carter a whack, but I have no reason to believe he meant to hit him in the face. But, that doesn't change the fact that it was still a stupid and selfish play. Keith is not a dirty player by any means. His two big indiscretions, last night's high stick and his famous elbow to the head of Thing #1, were both reactions to some questionable tactics moments before. Carter gave Keith a few good whacks, including one on his exposed hand while trying to pick up his glove. Again that is not a valid excuse for what he did. I don't think Keith will get suspended but then again you never know with good ole Shanny calling the shots. Some are saying Duncs will get suspended because Dave Bolland was given a free pass. I don't think it works that way, but if that is the case, can we retroactively suspend Bolland instead? It's not like anyone will miss him.

* I also find it interesting how some players are portrayed by the national broadcast teams. While showing a replay of Dustin Brown swinging his stick at Marian Hossa and hitting him in the chest, the broadcast team got a good chuckle out of it. "Oh Dustin Brown is just angry, hahahaha." There is nothing funny about being an asshole.

* I see Patrick Kane is now the easy target of Blackhawks fans and some "lead columnists" in this town because he doesn't have a billion goals in the playoffs. Kane is going to be one of the main focuses of the opposing team. The Red Wings and the Kings both play great defense and are more than capable of shutting him down for long periods of time. One way to get Kaner going is to get him away from Michal Handzus. Zeus has been a solid pickup but he can't keep up with that line. Kane needs a center that can skate with him and become a well needed outlet for him. Handzus is not that guy.

* Corey Crawford's rebound control has been amazing this series, the best I have ever seen it. The Kings are taking a ton of shots from the point and trying to get traffic in front. Crow is doing a great job swallowing up those shots and not giving up any second chances.

* Both Patrick Sharp and Niklas Hjalmarsson suffered injuries last night but were able to return. It will be interesting to see how they are going forward. The Hawks can't afford to lose either one of them for a long period of time. Hjammer took a slap shot to the inside of the knee and I thought he was dead. Once he was able to get back on his feet he went down again to try and block another shot. Huge show of balls!

* Someone want to tell me why Tyler Toffoli was a healthy scratch for Game 1? This kid has been the best player for the Kings over the last two games. Also, I am very happy we didn't see this version of Jeff Carter back in June of 2010.

* After leading in the takeaway department 26-8 after the first two games, the Hawks were only credited with 1 takeaway last night.

Blackhawks Corsi Numbers

Player Pos ES TOI Total Shots For Total Shots Against Corsi Net Zone Starts Adjusted Corsi
Duncan Keith D 21:04 26 21 +5 +2 +4
Niklas Hjalmarsson D 14:03 8 14 -6 -2 -5
Brent Seabrook D 17:46 18 18 0 +2 -1
Nick Leddy D 11:45 5 6 -1 +2 -2
Patrick Sharp R 15:42 14 17 -3 0 -3
Marcus Kruger C 7:20 1 8 -7 -1 -7
Jonathan Toews C 14:27 20 13 +7 +4 +5
Brandon Saad L 10:11 6 8 -2 -1 -2
Viktor Stalberg L 8:33 2 3 -1 +1 -1
Michal Handzus C 13:06 10 15 -5 0 -5
Johnny Oduya D 13:58 6 15 -9 -2 -8
Bryan Bickell L 10:08 14 5 +9 +5 +7
Michal Rozsival D 13:22 9 8 +1 +2 +0
Dave Bolland C 6:38 3 8 -5 -1 -5
Andrew Shaw C 12:13 9 7 +2 -1 +2
Michael Frolik R 6:52 4 9 -5 -2 -4
Marian Hossa R 14:45 19 13 +6 +3 +5
Patrick Kane R 18:35 12 17 -5 0 -5

Kings Corsi Numbers

Player Pos ES TOI Total Shots For Total Shots Against Corsi Net Zone Starts Adjusted Corsi
Matt Greene D 10:32 13 7 +6 0 +6
Jake Muzzin D 8:32 11 4 +7 +1 +7
Rob Scuderi D 19:53 18 16 +2 -1 +2
Drew Doughty D 18:45 13 18 -5 -2 -4
Anze Kopitar C 15:45 16 8 +8 -1 +8
Kyle Clifford L 5:15 2 4 -2 -1 -2
Justin Williams R 13:39 11 15 -4 -1 -4
Brad Richardson R 7:47 5 6 -1 -1 -1
Trevor Lewis C 14:28 12 10 +2 -2 +3
Dustin Brown L 13:32 12 15 -3 -1 -3
Colin Fraser C 5:28 0 2 -2 -1 -2
Dustin Penner R 11:13 12 10 +2 +1 +2
Slava Voynov D 17:10 15 12 +3 0 +3
Jarret Stoll C 12:43 10 14 -4 -1 -4
Robyn Regehr D 17:44 12 17 -5 -2 -4
Tyler Toffoli C 9:42 12 8 +4 +1 +4
Dwight King L 15:24 15 6 +9 -2 +10
Jeff Carter C 11:52 15 12 +3 +2 +2

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