One of the biggest turning points in Chicago’s series against the Los Angeles Kings is the breakdown in Game 2. Up until then, the Blackhawks had the wheels on the rails.
The Blackahwks were up 2-0 when the Kings would make the game close with just over two minutes left in the second period. We’ve seen this kind of play from Chicago before, not being able to hold on the entire game and easing up just enough to let the other team back into contention.
Yes, it hurt to see it again, but the Blackhawks were still up 2-1. Chicago still had a chance to put the game away in the third. They needed to either hang on to the one goal lead, or apply just enough pressure to put an insurance goal on the board.
But it was in that third period that the Kings broke open the flood-gates, and ended up hanging five goals on Chicago in one of the biggest playoff routes of the Blackhawks in recent memory.
A pummeling like that can be largely attributed to momentum. Heading into the locker room before the third period, Chicago may have had the lead on the board, but the Kings had all the momentum after the late goal. It only took a minute and a half for the Kings to tie the game up on a man-advantage.
Brandon Bollig had taken a needless interference penalty just over a minute into the period, and the Kings capitalized on that penalty just twenty seconds later. Bollig did have an assist earlier in the game off Ben Smith’s goal in the second period, but taking a penalty in the third period of a close playoff game isn’t the smart way to help your team.
Not to mention that that one assist is the only point Bollig had in 14 playoff games so far. He also has 16 PIM and a plus/minus rating of -6 with only 8 shots on goal. It’s no secret that Bollig doesn’t have ice-time because he’s an all-star scorer, which makes it more important that his physical play needs to be smarter.
Kris Versteeg is in a similar boat, with some slightly more impressive numbers. Versteeg has also played 14 post-season games this year with 1 goal and 2 assists to total three points. Not too bad. The biggest eyesore is the -5 that Versteeg has during the crucial playoffs. Although Versteeg does have 16 shots on goal so he is making the attempt to energize the offense.
Both players are NHL veterans with playoff experience. Both players have spent a number of seasons in Chicago and have Stanley Cup rings at home. The talent is there for both players, what’s expected is that little bit more. Smarter plays, stronger defensive pressure, and unrelenting shooting.
Some fans are calling for their heads, or contracts, on pikes, but both players have a lot more to contribute if they can play the way they’ve shown in the past.