The Stanley Cup playoffs have become a rerun in the Western Conference. The last two Stanley Cup champions are not only meeting in the Western Conference finals, the Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings are meeting for the second conference final in a row. The Kings were a mere blip in the radar for the Blackhawks in their last series together, and the new one started the same way on May 18 in Chicago's 3-1 victory.
The Blackhawks were perfect at home over the Kings in last year's conference final, which propelled them to an easy five-game triumph over the then-defending champions. So far, the current defending champion Blackhawks have been perfect at home in these Stanley Cup playoffs as well, continuing the trend in another Game 1 win against the Kings.
Brandon Saad opened the scoring for Chicago in the first period, with Jonathan Toews looking to have continued it in the second. However, the goal was waved off due to incidental contact with goalie Jonathan Quick, although it was highly questionable if the collision made a real difference. When the Kings tied the score moments later, the momentum could have easily switched for good.
Instead, Corey Crawford settled the Blackhawks down and kept things even at 1-1, until Duncan Keith put Chicago back on top. In the end, Toews finally got his goal late in the third period and finally put Los Angeles down by two goals, this time to stay.
Given that the Kings have come back in these Stanley Cup playoffs multiple times, they may be better off being down in this series. On the other hand, the Blackhawks are the only team they haven't beaten in the postseason over the last two-plus years. If Los Angeles is to knock off Chicago this time, it will need at least one win in the United Center at some point.
With the Blackhawks now 7-0 in Chicago during the playoffs, and holding home ice advantage through the rest of the postseason, a third Stanley Cup in five years is well within reach. To get a step away from their second Stanley Cup in three years, the Kings may not be better off waiting until they're down by 3-0, 3-1 or 3-2 in this series to wake up.