CHICAGO, IL - MAY 18: Linesman Scott Driscoll #68 separates Marcus Kruger #16 of the Chicago Blackhawks and Trevor Lewis #22 of the Los Angeles Kings in the first period of Game One of the Western Conference Final during the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at United Center on May 18, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
When Chicago Blackhawks fans discuss the rivalries that the team has with other squads, there are certain organizations that always come up. Whether it’s the Detroit Red Wings, the St. Louis Blues, or even the Vancouver Canucks, there are plenty of attractive options to choose from when it comes to directing vitriol and venom.
This season though, there could be another team emerging on that front, and that’s the Los Angeles Kings. Here’s how Tracey Myers termed it in her post on the subject:
“There’s something brewing between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Los Angeles Kings. Perhaps it’s just from the success each has had in recent seasons. Maybe it’s because they’re squaring off for the second consecutive Western Conference Final. Whatever it is, there seems to be a budding rivalry, and it’s made for great hockey.”
On its surface, it seems like a curious assertion to make. Sure, there’s the regular pushing and shoving that is part and parcel of any playoff series, but there hasn’t been a big brawl yet. There really hasn’t been much of anything, whether it be verbal volleys flung through the media or trash-talking between the two teams on the ice. The matchup between the Kings and the Blackhawks doesn’t have many of the hallmarks of a traditional rivalry.
The reason that Myers is right, and the reason that this series can be termed a “rivalry” at this point is simple: the teams are both successful, but they are polar opposites of one another.
Yes, the Blackhawks have a particular emphasis on blocking shots, and they do have great goaltending, but the primary source of their success is their incredible offense. They finished second in the league in scoring with 3.2 goals per game, and they have a cavalcade of stars that are ready to fill the net with goals. Whether it’s Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, Jonathan Toews, or Marian Hossa, there always seems to be a star player on the ice for Chicago, and they are one of the most impressive scoring teams that the NHL has seen in a long time.
As for the Kings, they have their share of scorers, like Jeff Carter and Marian Gaborik, but they are built primarily on team defense and goaltending. They only allowed two goals per game this season, which was the best in the NHL. Jonathan Quick is widely regarded as one of the top goaltenders in the game. This is a team that thrives on physicality, aggressive defense, and intelligent play, and they have ridden that momentum all the way to three consecutive conference final appearances.
No, the rivalry between the Blackhawks and the Kings isn’t one that’s defined by visceral hatred or bloody scuffles. Instead, this rivalry is based on mutual respect and a clash of styles, and that’s what makes it so compelling to watch. The league’s best defense against one of its best offenses is always a matchup that sports fans want to see, and with two straight battles in this late stage of the playoffs, both teams are adding fuel to what could be an exciting rivalry in years to come.