The Chicago Blackhawks learned just how tough it is to beat the Los Angeles Kings on home ice Tuesday night. The Blackhawks dropped Game 3 of the Western Conference finals 3-1 as Los Angeles captured its first game of the series.
There was a lot to take in, as the Kings controlled play for the bulk of the night. Here are a few thoughts following the action Tuesday night.
Los Angeles was stronger on the forecheck and made it a point to make it tougher on the 'Hawks in regards to bringing the puck up the ice. The Kings also were able to get under the skin of Patrick Sharp and Duncan Keith.
Keith's Game 4 status could well be in jeopardy following his slash to the face of Jeff Carter. It won't be a shock if the league decides to discipline Keith.
Much has been made about Mike Richards being absent from the last two games of the series. Tuesday night served as a warning that injuries can also occur on the Chicago side of the ice.
Sharp left the game for a few minutes after taking a hit from Dustin Brown. Niklas Hjalmarsson was hit on the inside of his left knee while blocking a shot. Both players eventually returned to action, so hopefully we don't have to find out how Game 4 will go without the two players.
Bolland played on the fourth line yet again in Game 3. The Rat totaled 7:42 of ice time Tuesday night.
The player who has long been trumpeted as a playoff monster is a ghost of the difference maker of previous seasons. Bolland has barely dented the ten minute mark in the first three games of this series.
Whether he's injured or just ineffective, it's stunning to think that Bolland has had so little impact in the Western Conference final.
Chicago was limited to 20 shots on the evening, was outhit 36-26 and lost 34 of 58 faceoffs. The Kings owned a 7-1 advantage in takeaways and built a 2-0 lead, yet by the end of the second period the Blackhawks only trailed by a single goal.
Better fortune late in the game may well have seen the 'Hawks tie the contest. As it was, Chicago was able to keep it close despite the way the game was dominated by the Kings.
Expect more physical play from Los Angeles Thursday night. The Blackhawks can still put themselves in a position to close out the series in Chicago this weekend. It all comes down to the adjustments the 'Hawks make in Game 4.