Need for speed
The Blackhawks long have been known for their speedy playmakers. Yet who would have thought some of their best speed in Game 2 would come from Nick Leddy and Ben Smith, a pair of second-tier contributors who exist mostly outside of the limelight of star teammates such as Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane?
The Hawks fell into a dangerous pattern heading into Game 2: Good first period, horrible second period, good third period. But with a 1-0 lead after one period Wednesday, the Hawks maintained their pressure and doubled their lead in the first two minutes of the second period on Smith’s perfectly placed goal.
Hands to themselves
Trailing by two goals, the Kings tried whatever they could to irritate the Hawks. Kings center Jarret Stoll checked Kane halfway into the Los Angeles bench, for example, and continued to rough him up for several seconds everywhere. The Hawks could have retaliated with stupid penalties, but they kept their cool.
What didn’t work
When the Kings sliced the Hawks’ lead to 2-1, it was frustrating. When the Kings tied the score at 2 apiece, it was worrisome. When the Kings grabbed a 3-2 lead on their third goal in a six-minute span, it was downright painful. It got worse from there. The Hawks had no good reason to blow a two-goal lead on home ice.
Somehow, Hawks center Peter Regin ended up in the net, but the puck did not, during a play in the first period. Officials ruled no goal, and the call was confirmed after a brief video review. The puck danced across the goal line and came within a cat’s whisker of crossing the line.
Toews lost the bulk of his faceoffs (11 for 25) and Regin struggled during his standoffs at the dot (2 for 10). Crafty veteran Michal Handzus also had an uncharacteristically difficult day in the faceoff circle, winning four draws and losing 12. As a team, the Hawks won less than 39 percent of their faceoffs (27 for 70).
Stars of the game
When was the last time Leddy scored on a breakaway? When was the last time Leddy had a breakaway, period?
For the second consecutive game of the series, Saad was splendid. He consistently outraced and outmuscled Kings defenders throughout the game.
Smith is Mr. Reliable. Even though he’s relatively small at 5-foot-11 and 207 pounds, he wins every battle along the boards and scored on a nifty shot in the second.
If #Blackhawks lose, well, they had their chances to put this game away. Quick made some nice stops but they also didn’t finish.
@BrianHedger, Brian Hedger
What they’re saying
“It really is different. One thing as you go along here, we try to change things up as much as you can so the routine doesn't get boring or monotonous. ... It makes it a little easier when you do get different game times, different settings, days in between.”
-Hawks coach Joel Quenneville on handling his team’s uneven playoff schedule
“Hopefully the Los Angeles Kings can beat them once. Think they won the Stanley Cup last year because they're not a great home-ice team? Doesn't all of a sudden happen in playoffs. They're historically a great home ice team.”
-Kings coach Darryl Sutter on the Hawks’ dominance on home ice
“You guys can talk about it what you want. We know how good ‘Crow’ is. He's the backbone of this team. He's been huge for us all season and in the playoffs.”
-Hawks defenseman Brent Seabrook on perceived doubts about Corey Crawford