Have the Kings Suddenly Become the Underdog to Chicago in 2014 Western Final?

When the Los Angeles Kings won the Stanley Cup in 2012, they managed to do so by dominating the opposition. They only lost two contests in the three series that led up to the Stanley Cup Final, where they took care of the New Jersey Devils in six.

The Kings are within striking distance of another appearance in the Final, but they've taken the scenic route in 2014. For the third consecutive series, L.A. will play a Game 7 and it has an opportunity to do something that no other team in the history of the NHL has done.

Recent history would suggest that L.A. is the favorite heading into Game 7 against the Chicago Blackhawks. That isn't the case, though, despite success in similar situations over the last few weeks.

Did they storm back in historic fashion against the San Jose Sharks in the first round? They sure did. And did the Kings then win another hard fought seven-game series against the Anaheim Ducks? They did that too.

These Blackhawks aren't like the Ducks or Sharks, though. They're champions through and through, and if they only had hope following a Game 5 win, then the Blackhawks have boatloads of confidence after winning Game 6. The reason for that confidence is simple: they trailed in the third period of Games 5 and 6 yet still managed to win.

The Kings were given the chance to play their brand of hockey and to close out the series not just once, but twice over the last two contests. This is a squad that's been constructed to win close games through good goaltending and strong defensive play. We saw that plan in action in the first four games of the WCF, and it worked. Somewhere along the line in Game 5, the Kings stopped clogging up the neutral zone and Jonathan Quick stopped making routine saves, let alone timely ones.

Los Angeles' strengths aren't looking like strengths right now, and they had and missed two chances to squeeze the life out of...

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