8: Kings-Blackhawks WCF Game 1 Preview

Victor Decolongon

Los Angeles Kings v Chicago Blackhawks (United Center)

Time: 12:00 PM

TV: RDS, TSN, NBC

Enemy reading: Second City Hockey

Blackhawks (projected) lineup:

Bickell-Toews-Hossa
Sharp-Handzus-Kane
Saad-Regin-Versteeg
Bollig-Kruger-Smith

Keith-Seabrook
Oduya-Hjalmarsson
Leddy-Rozsival

Crawford

Injured: Nikolai Khabibulin, Andrew Shaw; Scratched: Jeremy Morin, Joakim Nordstrom, Sheldon Brookbank, David Rundblad

Kings (projected) lineup:

Gaborik-Kopitar-Brown
Pearson-Carter-Toffoli
Lewis-Stoll-Williams
King-Richards-Clifford

Muzzin-Doughty
Schultz-Voynov
Greene-Martinez

Quick

Injured: Willie Mitchell, Robyn Regehr; Scratched: Jordan Nolan, Andy Andreoff, Patrik Bartosak, Derek Forbort, Colin Miller, Scott Sabourin, Nick Shore, Jordan Weal, Brayden McNabb, Andrew Bodnarchuk, Linden Vey, Andrew Campbell, Colin Fraser

Game Notes:

  • HERE WE GO. The quest for vengeance begins absurdly early today, as the Kings hit the ice against the Blackhawks only a day and a half after sending the Anaheim Ducks packing. Thanks, stupid NHL scheduler. And thanks, stupid Kings, for taking seven games to eliminate Corey Perry so we couldn't even have forty-eight stress-free hours.
  • Eric, Nick & Robert have, as usual, done a bang-up job previewing this series. If you don't have time to go through all of their posts, the highlights: the Kings had limited success against the Blackhawks this season, dropping all three games in regulation. They only got truly stomped in one of those games, however, and only one of the games featured Jonathan Quick vs Corey Crawford.
  • Whichever way you want to slice the numbers, these are two of the best teams in hockey, who led the way throughout the regular season in terms of possession metrics, with the Blackhawks getting somewhat better goaltending and better goalscoring luck. The Kings may retain a slight edge in 5v5 numbers, but the Blackhawks have had superior special teams performance, and basically yeah, this is the Sharks all over again but even closer. Buckle up.
  • Match-ups will be very key in this series. Much like the Kings try to staple Anze Kopitar to Ryan Getzlaf because Kopitar owns him, the Blackhawks have generally hard-matched Jonathan Toews to Kopitar, and Toews has performed very well. A better performance by the Kings' top line against the Blackhawks top line will be crucial to a series victory.
  • It's worth noting that the Blackhawks have never faced this new Kings forward configuration, with Marian Gaborik up top, the 70s second line, and more spread-out offensive threats in the bottom six. It is also worth noting, however, that the Blackhawks' bottom line centred by Marcus Kruger has been incredibly effective defensively against even the toughest competition.
  • The Crawford vs Quick match-up is a bit of a mystery. Crawford was fine in the first round, and absolutely stellar in the Blackhawks' last series against the Minnesota Wild, keeping his team in one or two games were they were actually thoroughly out-played. Quick has been very up-and-down this post-season, largely shutting the door when the Kings were facing elimination (six times!!!), but letting in some pretty goofy stuff to begin both round one and round two. Let's hope he's got his shit figured out now.
  • #Pray4JeffSchultz today. He's gonna need it. My blood pressure is gonna need it.
  • ~Fun With Numbers~ from Extra Skater.
  • Prediction: Kings win the game like they'll win the series, 4-0. (No, I'm never going to stop saying this until it actually happens. When the King were down three-zip to the Sharks, I remember thinking, "god damn it, I'm not even going to get to write a single playoff preview that doesn't start with the number 16" and now look at where we are. The playoffs are dumb because anything can happen but they are also great because anything can happen, and I know a lot of you are pretty fatalistic about a series against the Blackhawks, but have faith - the Kings are a great team capable of playing some great hockey, and anything can happen.)
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