To live- not die- in LA

After the Blackhawks squandered the home ice advantage in their Western Conference Final series with the Kings by falling apart in the third period of a Game 2 they seemed to have all wrapped up, they had to win one in L.A.

They did, last night- in their last possible opportunity.

Facing elimination for the second straight game, the Hawks once again showed that they're a team that is most dangerous when its back is to the wall. Trailing 3-2 with less than half a period left, the Good Guys tallied twice- Patrick Kane scoring the winner- to force a seventh and deciding game at the UC Sunday night.

I'm not cocky- anymore. While I never thought the Kings would be easy, I didn't expect them to be nearly this tough. This is a very, very good Los Angeles team, only a year removed from their own Stanley Cup and themselves well-seasoned and knowing very well what it takes to win. And they're better than the Red Wings team the Hawks came from a similar three-games-to-one deficit against in last year's second round, and better also than the Blues or certainly the Wild(!?), whom the Hawks came from behind to beat in the two previous series this year.

But I have to like the Hawks' chances at home, with the psychological monkey on the King's backs for a change, the home ice advantage (I don't see another meltdown like the one in Game Two happening, and that's the only home playoff game the Four Feathers Gang have lost this season).

And besides, it seems like the most dangerous thing you can do to the Blackhawks is to face them with elimination. The Hawks are the most skilled team in the NHL, but that's not their real strength.

Their real strength is their heart- and their determination.


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