Blackhawks, Kings exude confidence, respect for each other
BY MARK POTASH Staff Reporter May 24, 2014 6:30PM
Hawks center Marcus Kruger falls against the boards after being checked by Kings defenseman Alec Martinez and left wing Tanner Pearson during the first period of Game 3 on Saturday in Los Angeles. | Chris Carlson/AP
Updated: June 26, 2014 6:52AM
LOS ANGELES — The Los
Angeles Kings aren’t going away.
‘‘We don’t quit,’’ defenseman Drew Doughty said before Game 3
of the Western Conference final against the Blackhawks on Saturday at Staples Center. ‘‘We have a lot of heart in here. Great group of guys. We all work for each other.
‘‘We have the will and heart to come back. We know when we need [goalie Jonathan Quick] back there, he’s going to make the big save for us.’’
But the Hawks aren’t going away, either.
‘‘We have no doubt that [Game 2] didn’t affect them,’’ Doughty said. ‘‘Mentally, they’re one of the strongest teams in the league. They’re going to come out with their best game [in Game 3]. They know what they have to do to play well against us. And we haven’t showed them all our stuff yet.
‘‘We know they’re not going to shy away or take their foot off the pedal because they’re a great team and they showed it.’’
At this stage of the Stanley Cup playoffs, both teams think they control their own destiny.
‘‘It’s just the team that wants it more at this point,’’ Doughty said.
‘‘It’s about how bad we want it,’’ Hawks captain Jonathan Toews said. ‘‘That’s that.’’
Both teams have every right to feel confident. The Hawks won the Cup in 2010 and 2013; the Kings won it in 2012. And both won in impressive style, with a resilience and will to win that put them a step above the rest of the NHL field.
The second-round demise of the Boston Bruins, who won the Cup in 2011, leaves the Hawks and Kings to battle it out for salary-cap-era supremacy in the NHL. The winner
of this series likely will be favored to win the Cup. If the Kings win, they’ll have won two of the last three. If the Hawks win, they’ll have three Cups in the last five seasons, the best run of success since the Edmonton Oilers of the late 1980s.
As much as any series the Hawks have played in recent years, this is one of mutual respect. That’s why the Kings weren’t about to overplay the confidence they gained from winning Game 2 at the United
Center. Most teams would be sailing into Game 3. The Kings, if anything, tempered their confidence with a bit of trepidation.
‘‘It’s another game; there’s no carryover from [Game 2],’’ Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell said. ‘‘It’s going to bring new problems, new challenges and new positives, hopefully. I think most of our core group know [the Hawks] quite well. Their core group’s been together for a while. Ours is starting to shape up like that.
‘‘I’ve played against them in the past [with the Kings] and with other teams. We know what to expect, and we know how we’ve got to play against them to have success.’’