When the Chicago Blackhawks took to the ice against the Los Angeles Kings for their last matchup of the 2013 calendar year, it was clear that whoever could pull out a little extra skill would win this one.
This is because the Blackhawks currently have the best offense in the NHL and the Kings currently harbor, arguably, the best defense in the league. With a matchup like that it was expected to be a fight until the very end.
The matchup out on the ice went exactly the way it was anticipated to go. Blackhawks’ second line winger Brandon Saad was able to get the job done when he found the back of the net in the first period. After Saad’s goal that was it as far as points on the board were concerned.
What happened after was an impressive battle between offense and defense that lasted throughout the remaining two periods. The ability of the Blackhawks to hold off the Kings was an important test. Many times, a ranking system can be flawed and does not tell the entire story when it comes to which teams really are the best. The Hawks’ ability to push past an ironclad defense out on the ice, even it was for only one goal, was an important measure of the Hawks’ ability.
It can be tiring attempting to out skate a defense that appears to be on your back everywhere you turn, but the Hawks played this game like a playoff game which helped them out of their mindset after a loss against the St. Louis Blues on Saturday.
This game will need to be a metaphor for the 2014 leg of the Blackhawks season. They will need to take every opponent they meet up with on the ice at more than face value. They will need to tighten the holes in their defense while maintaining their explosive offense.