Chicago Blackhawks fans can whine about lucky bounces all summer long if they so choose. That may be easier to do than admit what was obvious throughout the Western Conference Final against the Los Angeles Kings.
The Blackhawks' opponents weren't just lucky, folks. The Kings were pretty darn good.
It was a wild seven-game series for sure. This time around, Los Angeles was the better team and deserved to go on to the Stanley Cup Final.
Look, it was a tremendous series. There was a lot to admire about the way both organizations played. Both clubs responded, at various times, to adversity. Both teams battled all the way to the end of Game 7.
For all the skill on display throughout the WCF, the final goal proved to be a little anti-climatic. I am sure Kings fans could care less. Watching their team scratch back into the game, after two quick Chicago goals, had to be pretty satisfying.
On the other side, it was nice to see Patrick Sharp find his scoring touch. On another day, Sharp's two-goal night would have made him a hero. Sunday night, that wasn't the case.
A lot of excuses are going to be tossed around in the coming days. We will all weigh in on Chicago's problems up the middle, on the fourth line, on the back end and in the net. Most of the talk will be just that—talk.
The sudden end of the Stanley Cup defense leaves us with little to do but look to next season and what changes it could bring. We will get the lowdown on any injured 'Hawks as the players clean out their lockers. I would not be stunned if at least a few Blackhawks are revealed to have played through some major hurts (Sharp being the most likely suspect).
Chicago could well have been banged-up. At this stage of the playoffs, so is everyone else. Get over it and give some credit to the Kings, who had the deeper squad when all was said and done.
Some Blackhawks will be departing in the coming weeks. Some prospects are going to have to step up. There is the NHL draft at the end of June and the Blackhawks Convention in July to occupy your mind if you aren't ready to let that bouncing puck over Corey Crawford go just yet.
The Kings were a more than worthy adversary the last two weeks. They played a pretty clean series and showed why they may be hoisting a second Stanley Cup in three seasons. Point to lucky bounces all you want. The bottom line is that Los Angeles earned every bit of its dethroning of the Blackhawks.