For the fan’s sake, the player’s sake, momentum’s sake and any decent chance of winning the series, the Chicago Blackhawks must bounce back and win on the road in Game Four. The results on the road could cause vastly different headlines heading back to Chicago. Should the team win Game Four, Chicago fans and players alike could be breathing a huge sigh of relief as headlines would undoubtedly tout the strong “effort” and the huge “momentum” that has been swung back in the favor of the Hawks. However, lose Game Four and headlines could be singing a different tune. The headlines that could have read of “redemption” now could conversely speak of “dynasty failure.” As Captain Jonathan Toews has said of his Blackhawks coming into tonight’s Game Four, “it’s now or never.”
Jonathan Toews led the way in Game Three Saturday night as he scored the first two goals for the Hawks in the opening period. Unfortunately, the pack did not follow suit as the Los Angeles Kings continued to do what they do best: grind away and win the game. The offense for the Blackhawks has come to a kind of stalemate, being outshot in three straight games while averaging just 24 shots per game. The Hawks are in desperate need of a break out game coming from someone other than the captain. For Chicago to take the series, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp need to step up their respective games. Through the first three games, Kane has been held scoreless and Hossa and Sharp have a combined four points (1 G, 3 A).
The youth and depth of the Chicago Blackhawks has been touted time and time again coming into this series, but it has been the Kings youngsters and the depth of their third and fourth lines that are dominating the series. The line combination of Tyler Toffoli, Tanner Pearson, and Jeff Carter alone have a combined 15 points (7 G, 8 A) after just three games. Perhaps it could be the “grind-it-out” nature of the Kings taking its toll on the Hawks, but either way, answers and effort need to be found quickly as L.A. has won all of the small battles within the course of these last two games.
The Kings have displayed their ability to overcome adversity in this series so far, coming back from early (and late) deficits in all three games. Game One went by way of the Chicago Blackhawks, but the next two were won by the Kings in games that were ultimately decided less than halfway into the third periods. Now it is Chicago’s turn to display that same type of resilience that they showed in the opening round against the St. Louis Blues.
The Blackhawks may have won the 2013 Stanley Cup, but the Kings won the 2012 Stanley Cup and are attempting to build their own dynasty, winning in the playoffs more than any other franchise over the past three years. The Blackhawks certainly have the talent and leadership to rattle off three wins in a row, but if they cannot come away with a win tonight, beating a team like the Kings three times in four tries in the playoffs will be an almost impossible task to achieve. Whether it be a bounce-back game from Kane or game-changing goal from Hossa, the Blackhawks need to play like their backs are against the wall tonight or, coming back home, they will certainly find themselves in an unfavorable position.
Commentary by Ryne Vyles
Read Me @ GuardianLV