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Sometimes the worst matchup is the best: Hawks in 5

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Blackhawks in 5.jpgI've seen this movie before. Blackhawks in 5.

The Kings are supposed to be a bad matchup and they might be. But the Red Wings were supposed to be a good matchup and ended up providing just as much resistance as a bad matchup. The lesson: The Hawks follow a similar pattern no matter whom they play: they get thrown off their skill/skate/finesse game early, then react, respond and ultimately win.

The Kings are defending champions, but they don't have quite the championship sheen they had last year. In 2012 they were 10-1 on the road. This year they are 1-5. In 2012 they were 4-0 in overtime games, all on the road. This year they're 1-2.

Jonathan Quick is the defending Conn Smythe winner and on pace to win it again. But he's not Ken Dryden. As the Hawks have done against him in the past, just shoot it where he's not and you'll score. Fire the puck into his outstretched glove like the Sharks' Joe Pavelski did in Game 7 and you won't. Quick is the best thing going, but he's not invincible.

The Hawks were OK against the Wild and good enough against the Red Wings. They have a lot of room for upside -- Marion Hossa, Jonathan Toews and Dave Bolland, to name a couple. Brandon Saad, in over his head earlier in the playoffs, looks like he's getting the hang of it. And while most playoff teams have room for improvement, few have a history of rising to the challenge as the Hawks do. They've only done it seven or eight times in 2010 and 2013.

The mercurial nature of hockey makes predictions a particularly dicey proposition. But it's better than nothing and though this series could easily go Kings in 5, it's difficult to go against the Hawks until they prove otherwise. They learn slowly, but they learn well. Hawks in 5.

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Mark Lazerus was honored nationally by the Associated Press Sports Editors for three straight years at the Post-Tribune, was named one of the top three columnists in Indiana for three straight years and has won more than 20 statewide writing awards. He has covered Notre Dame for Sun-Times Media, and now covers the Blackhawks.

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This page contains a single entry by Mark Potash published on June 1, 2013 2:54 PM.

Hawks need heavy traffic to have a chance vs. Quick was the previous entry in this blog.

Video: Dave Bolland hit on Mike Richards is the next entry in this blog.

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