Don't look now, but the defending champions are on the brink of elimination.
Through four games of the Western Conference Final, the Los Angeles Kings lead the Chicago Blackhawks three games to one.
Over the last three games, the Kings found their offensive groove, scoring 15 goals on 84 shots on goal. Much of the team's success has come on the power play, as Los Angeles has found the back of the net on five of its 10 attempts.
Suddenly, the Kings—known to be more of a defensive team—have quickly become an offensive juggernaut.
ESPN Stats & Info tweeted a summary of just how effective the Kings have been recently:
Kings take 3-1 lead on Blackhawks, are 11-4 in playoffs since being down 3-0 to Sharks— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 27, 2014
The Blackhawks are in dire straits.
So, how will it all unfold?
Being a must-win game for Chicago, and a close-out game for Los Angeles, Game 5 is sure to bring plenty of fireworks. Let's take a look at the contest's complete viewing information and predict how it may shake out.
Blackhawks vs. Kings Game 5
Series: Kings lead 3-1
When: Wed., May 28
Where: United Center in Chicago, Illinois
Time: 8 p.m. ET
The Kings have been getting production from all over the ice.
In Game 4, the team's five goals were scored by five different players. Meanwhile, Jonathan Quick remained stout in goal, thwarting any sort of comeback bid after Los Angeles took an early lead.
That translates to confidence and momentum.
Forward Justin Williams spoke as well. He conveyed a great mindset going forward during a press conference with the Associated Press, via ESPN.com.
We're not looking ahead. Chicago, I believe they've been down 3-1 before. Every team has been through experiences that have made them better. Stanley Cup championship teams like Chicago and us, we've been through a lot. We've persevered through a lot, and they're down 3-1, we're trying to squash them, and they're trying to get some life.
The difference in confidence between these two teams right now is extreme. While the Kings are full of momentum and ready to surge, the Blackhawks simply seem deflated.
Chicago captain Jonathan Toews explained during the press conference:
I don't think we played that poorly. We made some mistakes, and their confidence snowballed on us. Next thing you know, it doesn't matter how hard you work or how many shifts you spend in their zone. If the bounces aren't going your way, it's tough to get back in a game like this. We're going to find a way to get those bounces again and get things rolling our way. We'll work ourselves out of it.
Steve Rosenbloom of the Chicago Tribune tweeted an overview of Chicago's struggles:
ICYMI: Some of the Hawks best players made some of the worst plays.The RosenBlog: http://t.co/oWoWoB4ELp— steve rosenbloom (@steverosenbloom) May 27, 2014
Undoubtedly, the Blackhawks won't give up without a fight. Although, the way things have been going, it's a rather daunting task to establish any kind of confidence or momentum this late in the series.
If Chicago can't get better production from its penalty-killing unit, this one will be over in short order.
Not only does the team need to improve defensively, but the Blackhawks have been rather lackluster on the power play as well. After failing on all three of its power-play attempts in Game 4, Chicago is now just 1-for-24 this postseason with the extra man.
A tweet from Sports Illustrated highlighted the big factor behind the Kings' wins:
The Kings' special teams outshined the Blackhawks' in a 5-2 Game 4 win, putting Chicago on the brink. http://t.co/1EyxX1WCkA— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) May 27, 2014
The Kings are trending upward, and the Blackhawks continue to flounder. Expect the same to continue in Chicago for Game 5.
Kings 4, Blackhawks 2