Observations From Section 321 : No Duncs? No Problem

Harry How

Blackhawks take a 3-1 series lead on the Kings, after a 3-2 come from behind victory.

8-1. With all the talk about how unbeatable the Kings are at the Staples Center, 8-1. Even with Duncan Keith suspended for Game 4, 8-1. The Hawks played a great team game to put themselves one win away from the Stanley Cup Final. I said in yesterday's preview that all 18 forwards and 6 defensemen would have to step up to fill in for the lose of Keith, and that is exactly what happened. The Blackhawks were all over the ice while being willing to get to the dirty areas and win puck battles. Oh and look, Patrick Kane has woken up! Maybe Kings fans should bring cutouts of Dustin Brown's mom to get him out of his playoff haze. Problem is, they probably won't get the chance to do that until October. Right now the Kings don't have the horses to run with the Hawks and there is no way they are at full strength. Obviously the injury to Mike Richards is huge but I also have to believe Brown and Anze Kopitar are injured too. That is the only justification I can come with for how ineffective they have been this post season.

For the second straight game the Kings were able to get an early goal past Corey Crawford. Salva Voynov scored his 2nd goal of the series with assists from Kyle Clifford and Colin Fraser just 3:28 into the game. Both Hawks defenders, Sheldon Brookbank and Nick Leddy got caught in the neutral zone while the puck got deep. This caused all 3 forwards to head to the goal line. Clifford was able to get the puck out from behind the net to a wide open Voynov, who had plenty of space to shoot. Crawford did not have much a chance at making save with all the traffic in front of him. Voynov's goal was his 6th of the playoffs which ties him for the team lead. It's probably not a good thing to have a defenseman leading the team in goals this deep into the playoffs.

It was Mr Conn Smythe himself, Bryan Bickell, who tied the game at 13:16 because who else would it be? The Kings got caught in a line change and Niklas Hjalmarsson made a great little pass to get the puck across center ice to Bickell. Once over the blue line, Bickell flicked a little wrist shot that fluttered past Jonathan Quick. It was nice to see the opposing goalie let in a soft goal from that distance for a change. Michael Frolik picked up the secondary assist on the goal.

Speaking of soft goals, the Kings would take a 2-1 lead, at 2:12 of the 2nd period, on one Crow should have had. Nick Leddy did a good job getting inside position of Jeff Carter who was streaking towards the net. Carter was able to get off what looked to be a harmless, behind the back shot that Crawford easily handled. For whatever reason Crow decided to stare at the puck instead of covering it up with his glove and Dustin Penner was there to tap it into the net. Sheldon Brookbank did nothing to prevent Penner from getting to the puck, but Crow can't allow that to happen.

Patrick Kane would end his goal drought with a game tying goal with just 1:39 left in the 2nd period. After the Hawks established great puck possession by skating circles around the Kings defense, the puck got to Niklas Hjalmarsson at the point. Bickell tipped Hjammer's shot and it got behind Quick. Kane got to the net a tipped it over the goal line to be sure of the goal.

It wouldn't take long for the Hawks to take the lead in the 3rd period as they struck at the 1:10 mark. Johnny Oduya started the play by using his stick to cause a turnover at the Hawks blue line. He was able to get the puck up to Michal Handzus who had a 2 on 1 with Marian Hossa. Zeus fed the puck across to Hoss who buried a top shelf snipe for the 3-2 Hawks lead. The Blackhawks played a very strong team game for the remaining 18:50. The Kings were only able to fire off 2 shots on goal for the remainder of the period. That is amazing considering the Kings were trailing 3-2 and Duncan Keith was not on the ice. Let's wrap up the series tomorrow night. There is no reason to make a return trip to LA. Quick is the type of goalie that can steal some games so lets not allow these guys to hang around. Hopefully we will all be watching Jonathan Toews not touch the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl on Saturday.

* Patrick Kane returned to being Patrick Kane last night. He was able to steal a goal away from Bryan Bickell to finally silence some of his critics, by finally getting to the middle of the ice. The goal seemed to work wonders for Kaner's confidence and it showed in his skating. Quick robbed Kane of a second goal by stacking the pads and making a glove save. I wrote in Game 3's recap that if you want to get Kane going Q would have to get him away from Michal Handzus. He looked so much better skating with Bickell and Toews, Switching Kane and Hossa paid off with a goal for each player. I would like to see those two line combinations stay put for the time being.

* Corey Crawford continues to have excellent rebound control but the Penner goal bothered me a bit. I have been noticing Crow has been playing a lot more pucks that otherwise would be frozen. Could be that the Hawks woes at defensive zone draws are forcing his had a bit more. I just hope the next time this type of play happens Corey just puts the glove over the puck and waits for the whistle.

* To have a 5 on 3 for 53 seconds and not even get a shot on goal is a damn embarrassment. There is way too east/west passing, too much indecisiveness and not enough skates moving. Nick Leddy needs to have more confidence in his shot and start blasting away. Right now defending forwards are playing back on him because they know he isn't going to shoot. Rip off a few shots there kid. Besides from maybe scoring a goal, this will force that forward to come out further away from the net and create more space for the Hawks forwards.

* I thought the signing of Michal Rozsival would go down as a very underrated acquisition and it looks like that will hold true. He stepped up with 25:28 of ice time, second only to Brent Seabrook. He finished the game as a +11 Corsi. Rozsival has been solid all season long. He may not be the best skater but he is rarely caught out of position and is a very smart defender.

* Welcome back Johnny Oduya, nice to see you buddy!

* Before going to bed at night, Jonathan Quick checks under his bed for Bryan Bickell. 5 points in 4 games will do that to you.

* There will be no hearing or action taken on Dustin Penner for his deliberate elbow to the head of Dave Bolland. Player safety my foot! I wonder what would have happened if Bolland would have acted like he'd been hit by the sniper who had been picking off Drew Doughty all night long?

Blackhawks Corsi Numbers

Player Pos ES TOI Total Shots For Total Shots Against Corsi Net Zone Starts Adjusted Corsi
Niklas Hjalmarsson D 20:28 13 19 -6 -1 -6
Brent Seabrook D 17:37 11 17 -6 0 -6
Nick Leddy D 9:27 9 11 -2 +1 -2
Patrick Sharp R 13:18 9 9 0 +3 -1
Marcus Kruger C 12:07 6 13 -7 -3 -6
Sheldon Brookbank D 6:50 5 9 -4 0 -4
Jonathan Toews C 14:19 15 7 +8 +3 +7
Brandon Saad L 9:47 8 6 +2 0 +2
Viktor Stalberg L 8:47 5 8 -3 0 -3
Michal Handzus C 11:08 7 9 -2 +3 -3
Johnny Oduya D 20:53 16 7 +9 +3 +8
Bryan Bickell L 13:41 15 6 +9 +3 +8
Michal Rozsival D 18:18 15 5 +10 +3 +9
Dave Bolland C 10:37 5 12 -7 -3 -6
Andrew Shaw C 9:25 4 6 -2 0 -2
Michael Frolik R 9:29 6 8 -2 -3 -1
Marian Hossa R 12:41 11 7 +4 +3 +3
Patrick Kane R 15:35 15 11 +4 +3 +3

Kings Corsi Numbers

Player Pos ES TOI Total Shots For Total Shots Against Corsi Net Zone Starts Adjusted Corsi
Matt Greene D 11:03 11 11 0 0 0
Jake Muzzin D 10:53 12 7 +5 +3 +4
Rob Scuderi D 18:29 11 16 -5 -2 -4
Drew Doughty D 19:35 12 11 +1 0 +1
Anze Kopitar C 17:02 15 13 +2 -4 +4
Kyle Clifford L 8:17 7 4 +3 0 +3
Justin Williams R 17:24 14 13 +1 -3 +2
Brad Richardson R 7:52 4 6 -2 +1 -2
Trevor Lewis C 12:04 8 11 -3 -3 -2
Dustin Brown L 14:15 7 11 -4 -2 -3
Colin Fraser C 8:18 5 4 +1 +1 +1
Dustin Penner R 11:22 9 7 +2 +2 +1
Slava Voynov D 17:12 13 13 0 -3 +1
Jarret Stoll C 11:21 6 9 -3 -2 -2
Robyn Regehr D 16:06 9 12 -3 -4 -1
Tyler Toffoli C 9:13 8 6 +2 +2 +1
Dwight King L 13:32 11 12 -1 -3 +0
Jeff Carter C 11:21 11 9 +2 +2 +1

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