The Stanley Cup playoffs have kept putting the Los Angeles Kings in big holes. However, the Kings are on the brink of another Stanley Cup shot because they are putting the Chicago Blackhawks into a deeper hole. Since these playoffs have been highlighted by big comebacks, the Blackhawks can take some comfort -- yet nothing that happened in Game 4 on May 26 was comforting for Chicago.
Los Angeles' 5-2 win was never in doubt, after taking a 3-0 first period lead on the strength of two power play goals and two early power play kills. With this final, the Kings now have a 15-5 advantage in goals since the final minutes of the second period of Game 2. Way back then, the Blackhawks looked poised to end the Western Conference finals early, just like they did to the Kings last year.
Now the Blackhawks are the defending Stanley Cup champions being overwhelmed by a former champion in the Western Conference finals. Now it is the Kings who can dethrone the champs and end things in Chicago in Game 5. If they do, they will make their second Cup final in three years -- and their second against a New York area opponent, if the New York Rangers hold their own 3-1 conference final lead.
The Kings' leading scorers helped them distance themselves from the Blackhawks in Game 4. Marian Gaborik got his Stanley Cup playoff leading 10'th goal in the first period, while Anze Kopitar's two assists gave him a postseason high 22 points -- breaking a tie with Los Angeles's own Jeff Carter. Between Gaborik, Carter, Kopitar and Justin Williams, the Kings have the four leading point scorers in the postseason, making life a lot easier for Jonathan Quick.
While Quick hasn't had to carry the load, Chicago's Corey Crawford hasn't been carrying it enough in the last seven periods. What's more, the Blackhawks' own offensive stars haven't matched the Kings, especially on the power play, as Los Angeles is now 5-for-10 with a man advantage in this series.
The Stanley Cup playoffs have been defined by rallies from teams on the brink of elimination, like the Kings and Rangers. The Blackhawks also used a 3-1 rally over the Detroit Red Wings to even face the Kings in last year's conference final. However, distant past history is a lot more promising for Chicago than recent history.