Will momentum from the Detroit series continue to be on the Chicago Blackhawks' side?
The Chicago Blackhawks' playoff performance has been less than consistent this year compared to their record-setting regular season. But hey, the Blackhawks are back in the Western Conference finals for the first time since 2010.
That's quite an accomplishment, but the battle for the Stanley Cup only becomes more difficult—especially now that the Blackhawks have to face last year's winners, the Los Angeles Kings, just to reach the Cup Final.
Here are the Chicago Blackhawks' five biggest worries going up against the Kings.
The Kings haven't lost at home in over two months.
The Kings have won 14 consecutive home games at Staples Center.
Los Angeles had home-ice advantage in the series prior, and it definitely helped the team advance considering the Kings have only won once on the road in the playoffs.
This is both a good and a bad thing for the 'Hawks.
Say if the Kings don't win at the United Center but win all of their games at home, the 'Hawks will win the series because they are the higher seed and have home-ice advantage.
The longer the series goes, however, the tougher it will be on the Blackhawks. Chicago overcame a 3-1 series deficit against Detroit, and even with a few days off, fatigue is sure to be a factor.
If L.A. manages to win a game on the road, the Blackhawks could be in trouble.
The Blackhawks have had an inconsistent power play in the playoffs.
Believe it or not, Chicago's power play suddenly clicked against the Detroit Red Wings in Games 5 and 6 in the series.
The Blackhawks' power-play conversion rate now stands at a decent 23.8 percent.
Although the power play had no success in Game 7, the fact that it's improving is a good sign. Presence in front of the net has certainly made the goals finally come on the man advantage.
With Jonathan Quick controlling the crease—more on this later—the power play will be a crucial factor in determining whether or not the 'Hawks will advance.
Perhaps Jamie Kompon, the former assistant coach for the Stanley Cup-winning Kings, knows how to help the Blackhawks power play produce against his old team.
Jonathan Toews has not been a big factor for the Blackhawks in the playoffs.
Jonathan Toews only has one goal, five assists and a minus-two rating in the playoffs.
It's hard to believe this is the same captain who averaged more than a point per game during the regular season.
Now is the time for Toews to step up. Henrik Zetterburg is not on the L.A. Kings. Toews should have more room to make plays happen in the Kings series.
The captain isn't playing poorly; he just hasn't been a scoring factor. If the 'Hawks want to try to beat Jonathan Quick, Toews has to get on the scoresheet.
Let's hope he steps up his play against last year's Cup winners.
The Western Conference finals are going to be a battle for the Blackhawks.
If there's one thing that can take Chicago out of its game, it's physicality. We've seen this before. Frustration and a lack of discipline. Remember Jonathan Toews' three consecutive penalties in Game 4?
The Hawks can lose their composure when bombarded with hits. And L.A. sure is physical.
Here's a comparison: The Blackhawks' hit leaders are Brent Seabrook and Bryan Bickell with 35 hits each, while Kings captain Dustin Brown has 57—not to mention that the Kings have seven other players with more than 30 hits in the playoffs.
That's quite an advantage.
The Blackhawks need to stick to their game and use their greater skill and speed in their favor.
Jonathan Quick is playing like the Conn Smythe winner he was in the playoffs last year.
Jonathan Quick won the Conn Smythe Trophy after winning the Stanley Cup last year. His performance stole games from the New Jersey Devils in the finals.
He's putting a show on again this year.
Jonathan Quick sports a 1.50 goals-against average and a .948 save percentage in the playoffs thus far. Those numbers are almost as good as the ones he posted in the 2012 postseason.
That's concerning for the Blackhawks, who experienced their first shutout of the year against the Detroit Red Wing's Jimmy Howard.
Let's hope the 'Hawks can solve Jonathan Quick faster than they solved Jimmy Howard.