Kings/Blackhawks Quick Hits [Game #39 preview]
-Both teams enter the contest with three-game losing streaks. The Kings feel like they can build on the positives of their last outing. The Blackhawks, after losing to the Ducks 2-1 last night, sound grimly determined: some are calling it a must-win.
-Despite outshooting the Ducks 40-18, most of Chicago's best chances came in the final frame. Quenneville wants to see better effort in all periods. Which team will win the battles in the first? Something to look for tonight.
- The Blackhawks also don't want to lose in front of their moms. (Hey, Kings, remember when you did a fathers' trip? What about the mothers? It's a good idea.)
-After missing only two games with a shoulder injury, captain Jonathan Toews will be back in the lineup tonight. While the injury was initially believed to be more serious, he says he's not rushing back prematurely.
-Interesting stat from ESPN Chicago: during Toews' absence, the team won just 41% of faceoffs. They managed 36% against the Ducks. Mr. Intensity is pretty valuable.
-For the Kings, Parse, Ponikarovsky, and Mitchell (who has been seen in a knee brace) are still out. No firm dates have been given for Mitchell's return. Doughty and Johnson continue to see the most minutes.
- After starting off the season by scoring at an excellent clip, Jarret Stoll has since cooled off. Terry Murray has noticed. I don't know that the extra pressure will make him try to pick the corner any less -- but we can hope, right? TM says "Just shoot."
-Versus bumped the game's start time up to 6 PM. The World Juniors matchup between Canada and the US will be on the NHL Network at 4:30 PM. Aaaaargh, you guys!
-Scoring chances were in the Kings' favor last time against Chicago, especially in the third period (here are the Corsi and Fenwick for those interested). This time around, I hope they approach the game with calm focus and less frustration. Now that they've rediscovered their defense: please win.