For what seemed like an eternity Monday night in an awful 5-2 loss to the
At the nine-minute mark of the first period, Seabrook found himself frozen halfway between Kings defenseman
No image from Game 4 summed up the state of the Blackhawks better after another stunning turn of events. The Blackhawks responded to what
As the puck whizzed past Seabrook for the Kings' first goal of a forgettable night, he looked as bewildered as everybody watching back in Chicago felt. Seabrook's body language was screaming as loudly as the Kings fans waving white towels. What just happened? How do you stop it? Where do the Blackhawks go from here? Instead of building momentum to take back home for Game 5, the Blackawks created more questions than answers.
Every series produces a moment when everybody realizes which is the better or hotter team. It sure felt like that moment arrived in the first 20 minutes of Game 4, which went down as the Blackhawks' most disappointing period of the postseason. In the previous two games, the Blackhawks saved their worst for last with consecutive third-period breakdowns. They got that out of the way early.
The Blackhawks supposedly have more speed than the Kings yet keep getting beaten to the puck. The Blackhawks are the team with more star power, but we keep hearing the Kings' big names making the biggest difference. The Blackhawks never let their minds leave La-La Land during their
Muzzin set it up by pushing
After Seabrook's statue routine, the Kings capitalized 2:13 later on a mistake by another usually reliable Blackhawks defenseman.
By the time
The Hollywood ending the Blackhawks hoped for never arrived. Bickell scored the Blackhawks' second goal with 10:31 left, but the top line never recorded a shot when it mattered in the decisive first period.
Quenneville also tinkered with the punchless power-play unit, replacing
Until the Blackhawks lose four games in a series, it remains plausible to believe in their ability to rally from any deficit, no matter how dire. They have earned that benefit of the doubt, and the pride and resolve in their dressing room makes that suggestion more understandable than outlandish.
But the Kings possess the offensive skill and depth the Blues and Wild didn't in the first two playoff series. They have more talent and experience than the 2013 Red Wings, who blew a 3-1 series lead to the Blackhawks. Winning three straight against this team, which is in its third straight conference finals, will require every ounce of energy the defending
And there was little mettle to detect as the Blackhawks left California.