Getting blown out in your home rink is never fun. Getting blown out in Game 2 of the Western Conference Final after leading 2-0 for much of the game can feel like a sucker punch and a kick to the head. The Chicago Blackhawks learned that the hard way after the Los Angeles Kings overcame a 2-0 deficit to beat the Hawks on home ice in Game 2.
To say the impact is far-reaching would be an understatement. Many pundits who predicted the series could go the distance were proven right. The Kings have gained a world of confidence going into Game 3 and the Hawks were left wondering what just happened. After giving up a goal with just over a minute to play in the second period, the Kings took advantage of Hawks miscues and steamrolled through the second period.
I hate to use the term “wake-up call” this late in the playoffs, but this was about as close to it as one can get. The Hawks have yet to really play a full 60-minute game in the playoffs and it came back to bite them. The Kings are a good team and took advantage of the Hawks’ miscues and confusion. The Hawks looked lifeless as soon as the Kings took the lead. Questionable and stupid penalties and stopping at the wrong time typified the meltdown.
What went wrong? In short, Corey Crawford got frustrated, Patrick Sharp, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews could not score, they could not take advantage of Kings miscues and they let the opponent back in the game. They played the way they should not have played and the fans let them know it. But leaving early like they did was understandable. They were not pathetic — the team was.
The good news for the Hawks is that Andrew Shaw will be coming back. I’ll admit when I make bad predictions, and I admit the Hawks have missed him. When he gets back, he’ll bring his usual scrappy play and give the Hawks the energy they need. But until then, the damage had been done. And of course, the lineup issues will come, but that’s best saved for another article.
This wasn’t a good game for the Blackhawks. And if recent history is any suggestion, they blew a chance to have a comfortable lead because they have not won the first road game in a playoff series since 2010. That disastrous third period needs to be forgotten and fast. As history also shows, the Hawks can overcome adversity. But there is little doubt this series will be a very tough and difficult one.