Considering the way the Kings looked in going up 3-1 in their Western Conference Final with the Chicago Blackhawks, it was reasonable to suggest that what the Hawks were attempting to do -- win three straight against this juggernaut -- couldn't be done.
But it can.
It already has, in fact. The San Jose Sharks won three straight in Round 1 against these same Kings. The Sharks blew it, however, in failing to bank another win before they did it. Three straight? Doable. Four straight? Not on your life.
Fortunately, Chicago has that first win. And they got their second in Game 5. (Imagine that!) And if they can do it again in Friday night's Game 6, why, then they'll only have to win one game instead of three.
You can see how much more doable it seems when you look at it this way.
You can also see how much more doable it seems when Patrick Kane is contributing, as he did, finally, mercifully, in Game 5. After four games of relative inactivity, the Blackhawks' winger found his way Wednesday night, and as a result, his linemates found the back of the net four times.
Yes, his linemates. Kane is the focus, but it was the sum of his new line's parts that was unquestionably the biggest difference for the Blackhawks in Game 5. After three games in which Jeff Carter and his buddies -- affectionately dubbed "That 70s line" by Kings fans -- were the best unit, Kane, Andrew Shaw, and Brandon Saad managed to outdo them.
Kane, Shaw, Saad. All hail The Monosyllabic Three. (This nickname needs work, admittedly.)
Kane insists that Brandon Saad was the actual best player on the ice Wednesday night. We have our doubts. But the mere fact that he was in the conversation bodes well for Chicago. With Kane on the ice, he had time and space, and he's too good to be given time and space.
"He was amazing last night," Coach Quenneville told reporters Thursday. "I thought he's had some games like that over the course of the season, when he takes it to a different level. He has that ability to play a high-level game, almost like an impact player. Not too many guys make an impact like he did last night. He's had one of those games you'll always remember."
That last part's not really true, though. Saad's game will be etched in our memories permanently if the Blackhawks can compete the comeback.
If they can't, however, he, along with his linemates and his teammates, will be little more than a footnote on the Kings' march to the Stanley Cup Final.
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- Ice Hockey
- Chicago Blackhawks
- Patrick Kane
- San Jose Sharks
- Brandon Saad