Blackhawks-Kings Series Preview

Hawks Kings

With Detroit heading to exit interviews and the golf courses this weekend, the Blackhawks (and their fans) now turn their attentions to the defending Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings.

How does the teams match-up heading into the series? Let’s take a look.

The Goaltenders: Corey Crawford vs Jonathan Quick

  • Postseason numbers:
    Quick: 8-5, 1.50 goals against average, .948 save percentage, 3 shutouts
    Crawford: 8-4, 1.70 goals against average, .938 save percentage, 1 shutout
  • Regular season numbers:
    Quick: 18-13-4, 2.45 GAA, .902 sv pct, 1 shutout
    Crawford: 19-5-5, 1.94 GAA, .926 sv pct, 3 shutouts

Of course, the statistic many fans will point to immediately is the number of Stanley Cup rings the two netminders have won. Quick has one, from 12 months ago; Crawford has none.

At this point in the postseason, Quick is the only netminder with a better goals against average than Crawford. Quick and Pittsburgh’s Tomas Vokoun, who has only played in seven games, are the only two with a better save percentage.

Indeed, the two netminders are the front-runners for the Conn Smythe in the Western Conference Finals.

Something to remember, though, is that what has become expected from Quick over the last 14 months is far from the first two postseasons on his resume. Quick’s postseason career began with two six-game series losses. Before the 2012 playoffs, Quick had a career postseason save percentage of .900, and his goals against was over three in both playoff series.

Quick came into his own in 2012.

Is 2013 the year Crawford takes the next step? His performance against Detroit certainly showed that he’s able to play at the level of, and defeat, a very good goaltender and solid offensive team. Now, he’ll get a shot at the hottest netminder in the game and the defending Cup champs.

Forward Match-ups

Chicago enjoyed offensive success against the Kings during the regular season, and the scoring was led by the Hawks’ superstars. In three games, Jonathan Toews had six points (three goals, three assists) while Marian Hossa and Patrick Kane had two goals each and Patrick Sharp had one.

Los Angeles will bring a similar physical, strong all-around approach to their top six to what the Hawks saw from Detroit. Anze Kopitar is one of the better defensive forwards in the league, and Hawks fans are familiar with the quality Mike Richards and Jeff Carter bring to postseason play from 2010 when they were in Philadelphia. Dustin Brown is one of the best physical forwards in the league as well.

Where the Blackhawks might have the biggest advantage heading into the conference finals is with the speed of their bottom six forwards.

So far in these playoffs, the Blackhawks have received outstanding contributions from all over their forward lines. Whether he’s been on the third line with Andrew Shaw and Viktor Stalberg or skating with Hossa and Michal Handzus, Bryan Bickell has become the wrecking ball fans had been desperately hoping to see for the last three years. Bickell has as many goals in the postseason – five – as Hossa; Carter, LA’s leader, has five.

Dustin Penner has had a solid playoffs for the Kings to date, but he’ll struggle to keep up with anyone but Handzus on the Hawks roster. Certainly the speed of Shaw, Stalberg and Brandon Saad will present some match-up headaches for the Kings.

As was the case against Detroit, the top-six forwards in this series might cancel each other out statistically. If the winner of the Western Conference is determined by the bottom half of the roster, the Hawks have an edge.

The X-Factor: Special Teams

Fans in Chicago are well aware of how average mediocre frustratingly bad the Hawks powerplay has been this year, and that has continued into the postseason. However, they won’t be alone in that regard in the conference finals.

Through two rounds of the playoffs:

  • the Blackhawks have scored 6 goals in 37 powerplays (16.2 percent).
  • the Kings have scored 7 goals in 35 powerplays (20 percent).

It’s worth noting that three of LA’s seven postseason powerplay goals came in Game Two against San Jose; they scored twice in 13 powerplays in the final five games of that series.

Where the Blackhawks have a significant advantage heading into the conference finals is on penalty kill. Of the four remaining teams in the postseason, only the Kings have taken more penalties than the Blackhawks.

Through the first two rounds:

  • the Blackhawks have allowed 1 goal against 41 powerplays (97.6 percent)
  • the Kings have allowed 6 goals against 43 powerplays (86.0 percent)

The Hawks PK unit has been among the best in recent years this postseason, and came up big against Detroit.

This will be another heavyweight battle between two of the last three Stanley Cup champions. Both teams come in after winning an emotional Game Seven, and both are riding a hot goaltender. Who will win?

Prediction: Hawks in 6

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31 Responses to Blackhawks-Kings Series Preview

  1. EbonyRaptor says:

    Hawks in 4.

    They will enter the Stanley Cup Finals on a 7 game winning streak.

    They will exit the Stanley Cup Finals on an 11 game winning streak.

  2. JS says:

    ^ Still drunk ^

  3. Andrew Raven says:

    but not too drunk to do the math..boy if it only were that simple

  4. waitforawhistle says:

    I believe the Kings bottom six have 7 or 8 goals so far. So assuming that the hawks bottom six are so much better is a stretch.

  5. Mark Cavanagh says:

    Same ref that called nothing when Torres almost killed Hossa.
    Bolland knows anything goes and drills Nyquist. Game over. Credibility
    Of Hockey takes another hit. And this guy gets the full
    NHL backing and the next assignment. What’s up with that?

  6. Missed Calls says:

    Kings in 5. Jimmy Howard is no Jonathan Quick. Have fun with that. Corey Crawford still gives up weak goals, which are killers. Crawford played ok against Detroit. I believe that Chicago’s defense helped Crawford’s stats. ALOT.

  7. JS says:

    And of course that Blackhawks defense will no longer be playing in this series so they won’t be there to help him anymore, right?

    And all goalies bleed.

  8. Brian B says:

    OK. I am always willing to call out Crawford for his poor performance, and as such I stand here today to say THAT is what I consider a #1 goalie performance capable of taking a team to the cup.

    I did not appreciate the effort on the lone goal. He could have put himself in much better position on that play. But even if he had, it would have taken a spectacular save to keep that one out so I won’t put it on him.

    Of course, he only faced 27 shots, so we can’t say what might have been had he faced 40, but you can’t blame him for that either. For what he was asked to do he did a good job last night, save the positioning issue of the lone goal that probably would have been anyway.

    So good job Crow. But one game does not make a Cup, so cautious (very cautious) optimism here. I’d love to see you to continue to prove my earlier opinions wrong. LOL, not that he cares at all about my opinion.

  9. Tom Leonard says:

    IMO Corey’s positioning was fine on the goal. Goalies MUST stay square to the shooter or the real soft ones start going in (cough, Fleury).

    I would have liked to see Hossa skating hard after Zetterberg rather than gliding on that play. Corey took the shooter, trusted the back checkers and got burned because of it.

    Now I would have liked to see Corey at least make an ATTEMPT to stop the shot with his paddle, but I think he stumbled. I believe that was a play he might have had a change on if he was not wearing goal pads that are 3 inches too long.

  10. Tab Bamford says:

    @waitforawhistle: I said the speed of the Hawks’ bottom six would be an advantage. If you think Penner can skate with anyone in the Hawks’ bottom six, I invite you to watch the Kings on television.

    Also, re: LA’s bottom six scoring in the postseason – Penner has 2, Toffoli and Lewis have 1 each. Chicago’s bottom six has 3 each from Shaw and Frolik and 2 from Kruger (not including Bickell’s 5 or 1 from Handzus).

  11. JS says:

    LA’s bottom 6 were also going against SJ’s bottom 6 which is primarily composed of scraps that no one wants.

    Tom- I think the pass just surprised him and kind of buckled his knees. He was ready to drop down into the butterfly on the shot and then that miracle pass connected. It’s like when a baseball player is sitting on fastball and then the bender comes and they almost fall over.

  12. Brian B says:

    Tom,

    I think we’re essentially saying the same thing. I understand he had to initially commit to the shooter. But he has to know that guy is on the wing.

    And when I say he should have been in a better position, I’m referring to giving himself a chance to at least take a swing at the new shooter. As it was, he positioned himself poorly then tripped over his own skates when he tried to move to his right.

    And, as I said, even with perfect positioning and a good move to the right, it would have taken a spectacular save.

    That aside, the real story is bigger than one goal, poor positioning or not, and it’s bigger than one game. We need to see a consistent performance night in and night out.

  13. Gou says:

    Expected response missed call.
    Watch the replay on the wing goal, the back checker was #10. Complete missed assignment. Like the commercial says, “That was your guy eh!”

  14. Dave says:

    Oh my. Again, the comment of #50 giving up weak goals. I guess no other goaltender ever does, right? And yet, these “weak goals given up” still got the Hawks to the WCF, right? This isn’t the Corey Crawford of 2011-12.

  15. Tim G says:

    Tab hit the nail on the head… SPECIAL TEAMS SPECIAL TEAMS SPECIAL TEAMS!

    I like our chances to move on yet again…

    I want to say Hawks in 5, but 6 or 7 wouldn’t shock me at all.

    We averaged 4 goals game vs Quick in the regular season. We should win any game in which we get 3 goals.

  16. Sr. Brad says:

    What the Hawks need more than anything else is for Toews to have a monster series…all excuses aside, he has to start scoring…he’s done a admirable job responding to the abuse he took from the wings and the refs…but 2 series of little or no production is more than enough. Yes, he helps in so many other ways, and that will never change. But he has to score in this series.

    The true “secret” of the Hawks success against LA has been that the Toews line is always slightly better than the Kopitar line, and its usually the difference in all these 1 or 2 goal games. Yes, our depth will help in this series as well, but Toews has to be the best forward in this series if we are going to win.

    And yes…Seabrook, Handzus and Crawford have to continue their play as well.

  17. Tab Bamford says:

    In response to Missed Call’s comment about Shaw

    Red Wings GM Ken Holland said Valtteri Filppula has high ankle sprain. Will be in cast for 2-3 weeks. Needs 6-8 weeks to heal.

    It was an unfortunate injury. Suspension worthy play? Not even close.

  18. Missed Calls says:

    My bad on the misinformation on Fillpula , I read (on the interwebs) that Fil broke his leg. If its a high ankle sprain, agreed, not worthy of suspension. As far as you guys is owning LA in the regular season— that becomes null and void in the playoffs. See previous series as an example. As a Red Wings fan, I wouldn’t be nearly as disappointed if you guys blew us out in 4 or 5 games, the fact we were up 3-1 and couldn’t finish, makes it an unmitigated disaster from my point of view…and I’m not saying Howard, or other goalies don’t give up soft goals, I’m saying that Crawford (maybe its me) seems a bit prone to them. Reminds me of Chris Osgood, big save, big save, big save, softie, big save…etc. Jonathan Quick gives the Kings and added confidence, that they can make a mistake, an know that 9 out of 10 times, Quick bails them out… This is going to be another excellent series. This is why I LOVE playoff hockey. And if you do beat LA, ill be rooting for you to pound the Penguins. I absolutely do NOT want to see Crosby hoist another cup. AT ALL.

  19. ratboy36 says:

    Hossa AND Sharp could of skated instead of coasting behind Zetterberg for the lone goal last night “just sayin”,not that it matters.If we picked up where we left off last series against Detroit in the WCF.We should do pretty well.Also if we win this series,we will steam roll to the Cup in the Finals.There is no better complete team then the LA Kings IMO when they play there best.I think they were still getting it together against an overated Sharks team.I think the Hawks have an advantage in tfe forward depth area and we are going to need it.Yes Quick bleeds as all goalies do but certainly not as much as Howard does.We are faster and more skilled offensively.

  20. Sal Perez says:

    Ok guys if we don’t win the first two games we should fire Q for sure. This guy got lucky with the last comeback.

  21. RyanDale says:

    Tab or anyone care to comment on the Kompon connection if it’s worth noting or has any legs?? Not too familiar with his time there. tnx

  22. RyanDale says:

    Given the Kings lack of scoring in the postseason, I like our chances of getting past them.
    They are around 2 goals a game I think after beating StL and SJ. I think our D will be as good or better than those teams showed. Of course JQ is the obvious x-factor. But again, I feel our offense will be more successful than previous LA opponents were. If the PP can be a contributor, our job gets so much easier.

  23. Tom Jaremka says:

    I like our team speed, overall. The Sharks gave the Kings all they could handle and the Sharks don’t have our speed and skill. Raptor, I love your optimism, but I’m thinking we win in 6 games.

    I think Boston will soften up the Penguins, but lose in 6 or 7 games. We can beat the Penguins because their defense AND goaltending are questionable.

    8 more wins and the CUP comes home to Chicago!!

  24. SouthSideHawkMan says:

    Who let some of these guys in here? Anyways its always interesting to have a fresh perspective on the best website for Hawks fans. Here are some of the matchups that I’m looking at going into Saturdays game. This matchup will be alot like the Kings 1st round opponent the Blues. The Kings remind me alot of STL with a Stanley cup ring. Its the old speed vs size debate.

    Last round I felt coaching was a huge factor & felt like Mike Babcock is/was a better coach then the Q (not by alot). IMO Babcock is the best coach in the game now, and Babcock showed it when he took a flawed roster and pushed the Hawks to the edge. Sutter on the other hand is no Babcock and he is barely an above 500 record as a benchboss total (playoff record). Last years Kings teamed rolled into and through the cup to an unbelievable 16-4 record. If you dont look at last years numbers he’s 47-54 lifetime. I’ll take coach Q over the field of any of the final 4 and especially over Sutter.

    It will also ben interesting to see how Toews matches up against Mike Richards. I like this matchup much more then I did the Dats v Toews match up. Let me circle my “high flying hawk for this series”,……Victor Stalberg I think his speed will be an X-factor in this series. I can’t forsee Penner chasing him down the ice too often. He also had a team high 6 shots in game 7 and is a streaky player so I’m looking at him to break out in a big way.

    I like the Hawks in 6, but they need to win game 1 at home that is a MUST! Home ice will be KEY!

  25. Travis says:

    Hawks in 4 or 6… I’m dying to see the Tom Cruise struggle face.

  26. Travis says:

    http://www.damnfunny.co.uk/struggle-faceyou-dude/

    Yeah, that’s the one. But it’s ten times as gratifying if the Blackhawks are the cause.

  27. MadhouseDiehard says:

    First off Zetterberg played against Toews the majority not Datsyuk.Second of all Richards vs Toews? Well remember 2010 when Richards played for Philly? OI think Jamie Kompon will be some sort of an advantage no doubt.Although he couldn’t get LAs PP going and it seems he can’t do ours any better.So how competent can he be? Kings still have a garbage PP and their offense is average.They’ll make us earn our goals no question.”dirty” “greasy” goals are key.Once again our 3rd line is gonna have to have a big series.Does Q change it up again? Does Carcillo or Brookbank fall in the lineup for some grit? Hawks in 6 sounds about right only because we have back to back games which is a complete mess IMO

  28. Matt M says:

    @Madhouse no way does Q change it up. He changed it up last time and it almost cost them the series against Detroit. He would be stupid to try to change it up again. If one of the Hawks players gets hurt, I would much rather have Bollig than Carcillo but lets hope it doesn’t come to that.

    I watched the Kings series and I feel that the player that isn’t getting enough attention is Justin Williams. He was the leader for the Kings in Game 7 with 2 goals and I feel that he is everywhere the puck is. I am curious to see how Q matches the lines of the Hawks with the lines of the Kings. I say we keep the lines how they were for game 7 against the Wings. I loved all the line combinations especially the 2nd line with Bickell/Zeus/Hossa.

    I say Hawks in 6, but it will be a very tough series.

  29. Mike says:

    I think that this may be a higher scoring series than predicted. On the Hawks side, superior speed give them the ability to put 35-45 shots on goal in every game against LA’s defense. On the LA side, superior size gives them the edge in Hawk zone corner battles creating chances for them. Both teams have the skill to finish chances created by their respective strengths. In the end, I think offense pressure from the Hawks will give them the edge.

    Hawks in 6

  30. McKay says:

    I like these stats a lot:

    5v5 GF/60: CHI – 2.6 v. LA – 1.6
    5v5 GA/60: CHI – 1.9 v. LA – 1.2
    5v5 SF/60: CHI – 34.5 v. LA – 25
    5v5 SA/60: CHI – 26.2 v. LA – 28.7

    LA’s game hangs on a Conn Smyth performance from Quick. We need to send the horses that can disrupt his game.

    I think back to games 3 & 4 vs. MN. Game 3 MN came out and hit like crazy. In game 4, they grew tired and our tape-to-tape passing and quick legs broke the physical play. Controlling our break-out and neutral zone transition will make LA tired and they won’t be able to skate with us. But we have to have the puck control scheme working in order for our speed to work.

    We need to weather the Kings’ storm (especially the one that will come in Game 3) and know that they’ll grow tired. The StL and SJ series started incredibly physical but it slowed down as the series went on.

    The other thing is home ice. LA is undefeated at home. I’m not sure if they’ve scored a PP goal on the road. We need to hold court in 1&2 and then get in there and take 3 or 4.

    I’m really pumped up for this series. Go Hawks!

  31. SouthSideHawkMan117 says:

    MadhouseDiehard; how many Stanley Cup Finals goals do you think Toews had in 2010? I wasnt sure so I went back and checked, it looked like the answer was ZERO. Mike Richards did a good job on Toews in 2010’s SCF(Toews 3-A & Richards 1 G, 2-A). Anze and Richard arent in the same class as Zetterberg and Dats but they arent exactly to far off. Sutter really like to use Richard against the top line so he will most likely me matched up against Toews.

    I also went back on this seasons matchup to look at any trends or numbers. There wasnt anything I saw that jumped out as a significant key on such a small sample size. Keith was a monster against LA with 5-A, and Frolik has good numbers against the Kings. LA has essential 2 new players on their top 6 D from the last time they met. Regehr and Matt Greene(who was hurt against the Hawks). Should be a tough matchup for the Hawks but I think the Hawks solve Quick and get it done!

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