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updated: 5/21/2014 11:52 PM

Stunner leaves Hawks plenty to prove

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  • Mark Welsh/mwelsh@dailyherald.comLos Angeles Kings Tyler Toffoli scores in the third period to seal the game for the Blackhawks of the Stanley Cup in Chicago.

      Mark Welsh/mwelsh@dailyherald.comLos Angeles Kings Tyler Toffoli scores in the third period to seal the game for the Blackhawks of the Stanley Cup in Chicago.

 
 

If the Blackhawks are as stunned as the United Center crowd was Wednesday night, they might as well have not bothered to catch their charter flight to the West Coast.

Hawks' coach Joel Quenneville said, "I don't know if I've ever seen the way (a game that) turned on a dime where we were doing everything right and it became a disaster."

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The Hawks were looking so predictable at home ... win, win, win, win, win, win, win ... and about to win again.

The Hawks were making a good team like the Kings look like more UC fodder, just as they did the Blues and Wild earlier in these playoffs.

The Hawks led the Kings 2-0 in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals and all you need to know is that the Kings coasted back to Los Angeles with a 6-2 victory.

The Hawks had been 7-0 in the United Center during the postseason. They had won 18 of their last 20 home games.

Kings coach Darryl Sutter's message to his team was, "At some point they're going to lose a game at home."

But like this?

In sports, just when you think the planet is tilting in your favor, all of a sudden it reverses its spin and tilts the other way.

Remember, these are the Stanley Cup playoffs, not the NBA, NFL or MLB playoffs. Anything that can happen on this slippery slope of ice usually does.

It certainly did this time.

A goal late in the second period woke up the Kings and 2 more quickies early in the third period put United Center fans to sleep.

By the time the final horn sounded, the Kings had gone boom-boom-boom, boom-boom-boom and the Hawks had gone bust-bust-bust, bust-bust-bust.

All this after the building was alive as usual for the national anthem and chants of "Let's go Hawks" began during the game's first minute.

What everyone seemed to forget was that the Hawks don't do anything easily. They prefer putting themselves in precarious positions.

A question that must be asked is whether the Hawks simply lost interest with a 2-goal lead against the Kings.

Did the Hawks stop skating after the first 38 minutes? Were they blinded by their own brilliance? Have observers gotten ahead of themselves in advancing this talented team into the Stanley Cup Finals?

The impression after the Kings tied the series is that they aren't the Blues or Wild even though they had only the West's sixth-best record during the regular season.

The Kings are better than that. Yes, the Hawks are defending Stanley Cup champions but some fans here might have forgotten that the Kings won the title two years ago.

So you have the past two NHL champions matching up .. the league's postseason is a crap shoot no matter who's playing whom ... taking anything for granted is done at extreme risk.

The Hawks have been here before. They have suffered tough playoff losses before. They have come back sooner than later.

This team -- winners of two titles in four years -- doesn't panic and doesn't surrender to pressure.

More than a few experts have said that the only team that can beat the Blackhawks is the Blackhawks.

Maybe they're wrong. Judging by this Game 2 loss, maybe the Kings, with a collection of champions of their own, can beat the Hawks.

"We've been through comebacks a lot lately," Kings center Mike Richards said. "We just stick with it and grind it out."

Doing so on this night made the Hawks have to prove again that they can do what defending champs are expected to do.

It won't be easy after a stunning loss like this one.

mimrem@dailyherald.com

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