Hockey / Sports

Western theme: Blackhawks couldn't hold a lead

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks had a lot of trouble holding a lead in the Western Conference finals. Never was it as damaging as in the 5-4 overtime loss to the Kings on Sunday night in Game 7.

The Hawks had the United Center roaring after goals by Brandon Saad and Jonathan Toews provided a 2-0 first-period lead. But that slipped away, and a 4-3 lead heading into the third period wasn't enough either.

The series against the Kings was thrilling and unpredictable, but there was a theme.

The Blackhawks lost 6-2 in Game 2 after relinquishing a 2-0 lead. They led 2-1 at the end of the first period in Game 3 but lost 4-3.

Even in the Game 5 victory, the Hawks had to battle back and win in overtime after giving up a 3-1 lead.

"Obviously, we gave up a lot of leads this series," defenseman Duncan Keith said. "You go back to Game 2, we had the lead going into the third. I don't know. We played hard, but ... you've got to give LA a lot of credit."

Coach Joel Quenneville shrugged off the idea of pinning the series loss on slippery leads.

"We're productive," he said, "but we have to be better keeping it out of our net."

Running on fumes? The Blackhawks had an exhausting season, which included Olympic competition for 10 players.

Quenneville dismissed any thought that fatigue played a factor in the loss.

"I thought the ice was really heavy," he said. "I thought both teams were trying to fight through it. ... Both teams left it out there. Unfortunately, somebody had to lose."

The Kings, who have played the maximum 21 possible playoff games, may need to find a rejuvenating method before the Stanley Cup Final against the well-rested Rangers. So far the grind has worked out well for the Kings.

"We just have to reset again," coach Darryl Sutter said. "We do it so well. We did it during the regular season. We did it before the Olympics. We did it after the Olympics. We did it before the playoffs started. We did it after Game 7 of the first round. We just have to do it again. Certainly it's a challenge."

Feeling fine? Quenneville revealed no mystery injuries after the game as sometimes hockey coaches do when a season ends.

"No different than any other years," he said. "Everybody's got some annoyances, getting through it, playing through it."

Warning New York: Quenneville didn't make a Stanley Cup prediction. But he did let the Rangers know the Kings are not an easy out.

"I'll let (the media) sort out how that is going to play out," he said of the Stanley Cup Final. "I would have liked to think how we're going to match up against them ourselves. I know one thing, they find a way. LA, they're never out of a hockey game. They're never out of a series. They're dangerous."

(c)2014 Chicago Tribune

Visit the Chicago Tribune at www.chicagotribune.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

----


Comments

blog comments powered by Disqus