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Chicago vs. Los Angeles - Game 4

Thursday, 06.6.2013 / 4:10 PM CT
By Stu Grimson - TV Analyst / Stu Grimson's Blog
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In terms of Chicago’s playoff prospects, there are key questions to answer heading into Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals. Will Patrick Kane re-emerge to help Chicago push the Kings to the brink of elimination? Will the Blackhawks fill the void as Duncan Keith serves the only game of his suspension for high sticking Jeff Carter in Game 3? Can post-season surprise Bryan Bickell continue on this torrid scoring pace he’s set? Can the Hawks solve Kings netminder Jonathan Quick and notch a third win in LA before heading home to the imposing confines of Chicago’s United Center?

In the aftermath, the answers are yes, yes and yes across the board.

In spite of the fact that Darryl Sutter’s Kings appeared to be loaded for bear in the early going, the Blackhawks were unflappable. Slava Voynov’s early first period goal lifts the Staples Center crowd to its feet. This is a goal that should have rocked the Blackhawks back on their collective heels.

Out of a scramble near the Chicago goalmouth, Voynov grabs a nice little feed to the point, pulls to the middle of the ice to improve his angle and pounds it past Crawford. Tucked nicely inside the post, stick side. What a great shot. Nuke LaLoosh would say that Voynov “announced his presence with authority.” This is the start the Kings wanted in their attempt to battle back to even in this series. They came out strong, they pushed the pace early, they got on the board in the opening minutes and they appeared ready to give the Hawks all they could handle.

Chicago’s response, however, was not one of panic or deflation. Unfazed, Chicago simply went about its business, worked, generated a number of quality chances and, in about 10 minutes of playing time, they had something statistical to show for their efforts. Bickell beats Crawford at 13:16 of the first period to tie the game at ones. But there’s a key element to this goal.

It’s a substantial answer to the Kings opening goal because it comes rather close in time. Here, the Hawks effectively say they arrived at the rink on this particular night determined to secure a split during LA’s two game home stand.

What’s it all mean? Is the game over at this point? No, not by any stretch. But the opening period was just another example of that which Chicago has demonstrated throughout 2012-13 … the Blackhawks don’t lose unless they beat themselves on any given night. The first 20 minutes of hockey indicate this would not be one of those nights.

So as important as it was for Chicago to get affirmative answers to the questions discussed in the opening paragraph. The one noteworthy element to come out of Game 4 is something the hockey world has known all season long. If the Blackhawks come prepared to play their game, there is very little the opposition has to say about the outcome.

In Game 4, the Hawks give the Kings no reason to expect they’ll be anything short of ready for what little hockey remains in this series. Chicago appears braced to roll right over top of another good hockey team.

See you around the rink.

SMASHVILLE CENTRAL

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STANDINGS
 

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 CHI 57 36 17 4 158 130 76
2 DAL 54 34 15 5 174 145 73
3 STL 56 30 17 9 133 130 69
4 LAK 52 32 17 3 144 119 67
5 SJS 52 28 20 4 149 138 60
6 ANA 52 26 19 7 117 122 59
7 NSH 54 25 21 8 139 144 58
8 COL 56 27 25 4 149 155 58
9 MIN 53 23 20 10 130 130 56
10 ARI 52 24 22 6 138 161 54
11 VAN 53 21 20 12 123 143 54
12 CGY 52 24 25 3 138 151 51
13 WPG 53 24 26 3 137 151 51
14 EDM 55 21 29 5 133 166 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
R. Josi 54 11 27 -3 38
F. Forsberg 54 17 18 -7 35
S. Weber 54 14 21 -5 35
M. Ribeiro 54 6 27 2 33
J. Neal 54 19 13 18 32
M. Ekholm 54 6 18 3 24
R. Ellis 53 6 16 2 22
C. Smith 54 11 7 -2 18
C. Jarnkrok 53 9 8 0 17
C. Wilson 37 4 12 -1 16
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Rinne 20 18 7 .903 2.54
C. Hutton 5 2 1 .916 2.36