It’s hard to imagine talking about a team with the best record in the NHL as if they are an underdog to the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference Finals, but it almost feels that way going into this series. Odds makers have the Chicago Blackhawks favored over the Los Angeles Kings and rightfully so. Chicago was the best team all year long in the NHL and they had no problem dismantling the Minnesota Wild in the first round of the playoffs. Even though they got past the Detroit Red Wings in the next round, it took a miraculous comeback and a Game 7 overtime to do it.
The Kings are the defending Stanley Cup Champions and are trying to win back-to-back championships, something that hasn’t been done since 1998 when Detroit did it. The Kings have someone in between the pipes that proved last year he can carry a team to the Stanley Cup Finals and win the Championship. Jonathan Quick took the 8th seeded Kings to the top of the NHL world last summer, and once again he’s proving how clutch he can be in the playoffs. During the regular season, Quick allowed 2.45 goals against per game, while in the playoffs he is only allowing 1.50 goals against. His save percentage went from .902 percent to .948 percent during the playoffs.
This is why it is imperative that the Chicago goalie, Corey Crawford, is the best player on the ice for the Blackhawks. Every game he has to be one of the three stars of the game in order for Chicago to move on to the Stanley Cup Finals. Crawford has the ability to do this. His postseason numbers are also really good. During the regular season, Crawford’s goals-against-average was a remarkable 1.94. During the post season that number has dropped to 1.70. His save percentage has also been better during the postseason as it went from a .926 percent to a .938 percent. Crawford has the ability to match Quick in between the pipes and he is going to have to or the the Blackhawks may be watching the Finals from home this season.
If both goaltenders play up to their ability, this is going to be an amazing series. It’s all going to depend on which goalie makes the bigger stops at the most critical times. Quick has been there and proven he can do it. Crawford is trying to prove he can do this for the first time. Chicago has put their faith in him throughout the whole season and he’s proven he’s up to the challenge. When they were down 3-1 to Detroit in the last series, Crawford went on an amazing three-game run in which he stopped shot after shot as Chicago came back to win the series. Chicago is hoping he can bring that same magic to this series and if he does, and is able to out-duel Quick, the Blackhawks may find themselves hoisting the Cup once again.