Dodging a bullet at the UC
Coach Joel Quenville seemed to adopt an extension of the strategy he used at the critical juncture of the Hawks' successful bid to defeat the Bruin's attempt and physical intimidation and strong defensive play in last year's Stanley Cup Finals. De-emphasizing defense himself, Coach Q had the Hawks going all out offensively- figuring, logically, that if he could turn the game into a "run and shoot" affair, the Kings would have to abandon their defensive strategy in order to keep up, and the faster and more talented Hawks would prevail.
As has happened over and over in this series, it seemed early in the going to be working, with the Hawks moving out to leads of 2-0 and 3-1, only to have the Kings catch up by the end of the second period and take a 4-3 lead. Ben Smith tied it back up for the Hawks in the third, though. The first overtime passed without incident. And then came Micheal Hanzus:
I predict that the winner of Friday's game at the Staples Center in LA will win the Stanley Cup. Certainly the victory last night will be a psychological boost for the good guys, and may shake the Kings' sense of inevitability a bit. And once again, one thing you have to say about the Hawks: in elimination games, nobody is tougher to beat.
Still, the way the series has been going, and due to the fact that the game will be played in LA, I can't say I'm exactly cocky about the outcome. So I'll just do what Chicago fans are so good at doing: hope.
If we win Friday night, I firmly believe that we'll go on to win Game Seven in Chicago, and to beat the Rangers in he Final.
If not, and we have a Final between New York and Los Angeles... well, as I said the other day, we'll just have to spend the summer analyzing and re-tooling, and dedicate ourselves next season to bringing the Stanley Cup back to America.