The Chicago Blackhawks took care of business on home ice this past weekend. The 'Hawks are flying high as they prepare for Game 3 of the Western Conference Final in Los Angeles Tuesday night. However, let's not pencil Chicago into the Stanley Cup Final just yet.
As we found out in the previous round, momentum can quickly change. The old adage is also true—it isn't a series until someone loses at home.
For the Kings, that hasn't happened during the 2013 playoffs.
Los Angeles is 7-0 at the Staples Center in the postseason. In fact, the Kings won more games at home in the regular season (19) than the Blackhawks did in the United Center.
Chicago did win in L.A. back in the season opener, a 5-2 win that came after the Kings raised their championship banner on January 19. Los Angeles was 19-3-1 at home the rest of the season.
The Kings' last defeat on home ice came March 23 when the Canucks squeaked out a 1-0 decision. The premise of the Blackhawks going to the West Coast and closing out the series is going to be easier said than done.
The Blues had Los Angeles down 2-0 in the first round and saw the Kings take the next four games. Chicago is a different team than St. Louis but the 'Hawks are visiting the defending Stanley Cup champions.
The Blackhawks will be going up against a team that is more rested than in Game 2. Kings coach Darryl Sutter has had a chance to come up with a strategy to negate Chicago's speed. Counting on Jonathan Quick to lay another egg in goal isn't the most sure way to collect a win on the road.
The Kings haven't shown a lot of sustained offense so far. On the other hand, they have scorers like Anze Kopitar who have been silent in this series but could explode at home. Mike Richards returning to the Kings' lineup would also make things harder on the Blackhawks.
The 'Hawks will need to continue to find efficient ways out of the defensive zone. Patrick Kane could spur the 'Hawks to their own offensive burst with a big night. Chicago's third line has played well and we could see a multi-goal evening from that group.
A Game 3 Chicago victory would make it difficult for the Kings to recover. However, that win still has to be earned Tuesday night in Los Angeles.