Home Ice Key in Western Conference Finals

The Los Angeles Kings are 7-0 at the Staples Center this playoffs. It could be because Daryl Sutter has played the matchups with the last change. It could be because the Blues and Sharks struggled to score against Jonathan Quick. Maybe the Blues and Sharks were so annoyed by the South Park character saying “go Kings go” during the games that it affected their play. The Kings were 16-4 in the playoffs last year, losing three at home. This year they are perfect in Southern California.

On the road the Kings are 1-5. They lost two heartbreakers in Game 1 and 2 of the Blues series, but responded with four straight wins including Game 5 in overtime in St. Louis. The Kings had no luck in Northern California losing an overtime game and two more one goal games. Quick was fantastic in the away games against the Sharks, but the Kings couldn’t score.

Now the Kings travel to Chicago to start the Western Conference Finals. The Blackhawks are 6-1 at the United Center this playoffs and 2-3 away from the Madhouse of Madison.

The upcoming back-to-back games this Saturday and Sunday could be a huge factor to determine how the series will go. The Blackhawks must win at the very least one out of the first two games at home. Coming off a series where they had difficultly scoring on Jimmy Howard, the Blackhawks need to to figure out how to  score on an even better goalie in Quick.

Check Twitter later for both my conference finals picks.

Past Post on Brandon Saad

Back in September 2011, I wrote something about Brandon Saad’s preseason success for Sauce Hockey. It was a few months after he was drafted by the Blackhawks and he stayed with the big club for a few games before being sent to his junior team.

This season Saad has been a key forward for the Blackhawks playing on a top line with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa for most of the regular season. In the playoffs Saad was moved around and now is on a speedy line with Andrew Shaw and Viktor Stalberg that caused a lot of problems for the Red Wings in game 7.

NHL Fortunate the Blackhawks Won

Last night the stage was set for the NHL. With the NBA Western Conference finals over and boring inter league baseball on the diamond, Game 7 of the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings was the main event in sports.

With record second round numbers for Game 6, it was inevitable that Game 7 would set a new record. Sports fans that don’t love hockey would tune it for a game 7. Especially when the two teams playing are rivals and have huge fan bases.

The game went exactly how the NHL and NBC would want it to go for 58 minutes. Chances on both ends, big hits, players sacrificing their bodies to block shots and great goaltending all were on display at the United Center. Whether you love hockey or not you had to appreciate what was happening on the ice. Many of those people used Twitter to share their thoughts.

Then with under two minutes left, a disaster occurred for the NHL. A Niklas Hjalmarsson goal, which would have given the Blackhawks a 2-1 lead, was waved off because of coincidental rough minors by Kyle Quincey and Brandon Saad behind the play. The over 22,000 people at the United Center had no idea what happened, but the many more on Twitter chimed saying how bad the call was and joking that Joey Crawford has become a NHL ref. The last thing the NHL wants is the play on the ice being overshadowed by a poor call by the ref. Brent Seabrook quickly scored an overtime winner for the Blackhawks and the NHL all took a sigh of relief.

If Detroit won the game in overtime, all the talk this morning would’ve been about the bad call. All of it, and it would look terrible for the league when they were the main sport that night. Instead the Blackhawks won and it is a lot easier to ignore the questionable call late in regulation.