We’re two games into the Western Conference Finals, and the Blackhawks have wasted no time setting the tone for this series. In Game 1 the Blackhawks came out shooting. Outshooting the Kings 17-2 in the first period but going into the first intermission down 1-0. The Blackhawks were faster, more aggressive on offense, and yet still could not solve the playoff enigma that is Jonathan Quick. But the Hawks finally wore Quick down, scoring 2 goals in the first 8 minutes of the second period, scored by Patrick Sharp and Marion Hossa. That first period goal would be all the Kings would get, as Corey Crawford and the Hawks defense held them scoreless in the final two periods.
The momentum continued into Game 2 as the Hawks came out firing again – this time getting the puck passed Jonathan Quick twice in the first period. Suddenly, the Blackhawks aren’t just the higher flying, higher scoring team we expected – now they are also the harder hitting team, beating the Kings at their own game. Jonathan Quick got the hook after giving up his 4th goal in the 2nd period. The Blackhawks did their job. Protected home ice.
But let’s not get too excited too quickly. The Kings are damn near unbeatable at home, where we will now go play 3 of the next possible 5 games. And with how physical the Blackhawks have been in these first two games, you know they are going to come out aggressive on their home ice in front of their home fans. And lets not forget – this is the same Blackhawks team that dominated the first round, dominated game 1 versus the Red Wings, and then went on to lose 3 straight, two on the road in games 3 and 4. This series is far from over – but, that said – the Blackhawks and their fans have every reason to be optimistic. After an extremely competitive Game 1 that could have gone either way, Game 2 was a perfect opportunity, in back to back games, for the Kings to come out and make a statement and even the series on the road. But the Blackhawks never faltered. They have controlled the pace, beaten the Kings both physically and on the scoreboard, and at least thus far, solved the amazing Jonathan Quick. If the Blackhawks can win at least 1 of the next 2 games at the Staples Center this week, they will be in very, very good shape with 2 of the possible final 3 being played back at home.