The Western Conference Finals looked like it would be all Chicago after the first two games. For the better part of two periods, Chicago was cruising along. Then with a skate, the game and maybe the series changed.
Now the series heads back to Los Angeles this weekend tied at 1 instead of 2-0 Chicago. The 6-2 win by Los Angeles included a five-goal barrage in the final stanza. It left an entire Blackhawks team at a loss for words. Their fans were even more in stunned disbelief.
These three stars should be easy as I sense a “Hotel California” theme playing in the background. Let’s get down to business.
Fantasy Hockey Three Stars
Third Star — Justin Williams — Los Angeles Kings
It was just a skate but that skate of Justin Williams changed the game and maybe the series. Chicago wins that game if they are up two after forty minutes. However, that was not meant to be as Williams’ skate deflected a point shot in the net with less than two minutes remaining in the second period to cut the Kings’ deficit in half. From there it was a Los Angeles onslaught. Williams had four shots on the night and created a few quality chances besides that well placed skate.
Second Star — Jonathan Quick — Los Angeles Kings
We may take a little heat for this one but Jonathan Quick did play well as he did keep the Kings in the game. He made 23 saves in all on 25 shots for the victory. It was potentially a series changing game but as usual no one really knows that until we see how Game 3 unfolds on Saturday. The key is simply that Quick does not have to be ridiculous like he was in Games 6 and 7 last round, he just has to make the key saves when he needs to. It is that simple. Los Angeles has an offense that can respond as we have seen in the first two rounds. The problem is the Kings have to counter like they did in the third period. As for Quick, the goalie is just fine.
First Star — Jeff Carter — Los Angeles Kings
“Get Carter!” Jeff Carter had a third period for the ages on Wednesday night as he had a hat trick and an assist in just a hair less than 15 minutes of playing time. Wayne Gretzky never did that as a member of the Kings. Honestly, Carter is a sniper and tonight was his night. Three goals on five shots and a power play goal to boot made this the easiest choice in weeks. If you had him in your two-day pools or playoff pools, have a drink or toast on me.
Thursday night features Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Can Montreal find a way to steal a game or will the New York Rangers move to just one step away from their first Stanley Cup Final since 1994? My gut pick is the Rangers 4-1 but we shall see.