Blackhawks vs. Kings – Conference Final Set (Again)

Hawks Kings

For the second straight year, the Los Angeles Kings stand between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Stanley Cup Final.

The Kings are coming off two dramatic seven-game series victories, and dominated the Ducks in Games Six and Seven to eliminate their California rivals. But this year’s Kings roster is far from the squad that was easily eliminated by the Hawks 12 months ago.

Last year, Los Angeles relied heavily on Jonathan Quick to advance to the Western Conference Final. The Kings averaged only 2.06 goals per game in the 2013 playoffs, worst among teams that advanced past the first round.

This year, however, the Kings come in skating well and scoring the puck. They’re averaging 3.21 goals per game, more than the Blackhawks (2.94). And LA boasts the top two point producers – Anze Kopitar (19 points) and Marian Gaborik (15) – in these playoffs; the Hawks’ leaders – Marian Hossa and Brent Seabrook – have 11 points each.

Corey Crawford comes into the series having a dominant playoffs. Crawford has won eight of 12 games with a .931 save percentage and 1.97 goals against average, all the best in the postseason.

On the other end of the rink, Quick hasn’t had the great postseason he did a year ago. The Kings’ netminder is allowing 2.72 goals per game with a .914 save percentage, and Martin Jones has appeared in two playoff games for the Kings.

However, in six elimination games already this postseason, Quick has allowed only nine goals and is 6-0 against the Sharks and Ducks. With his back against the wall, Quick has allowed more than two goals in a game only once (Game Three against San Jose).

One factor that will undoubtedly play into the series is fatigue. Not only are the Kings’ coming off two seven-game series, but they will have less than 40 hours between closing out the Ducks and the conference final beginning in the United Center (at noon Pacific) on Sunday.

The schedule affords both teams some time to catch their breath early in the series, which could buy the Hawks time to get Andrew Shaw back into the lineup soon. Los Angeles is still without Robyn Regehr and Willie Mitchell on their blue line.

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15 Responses to Blackhawks vs. Kings – Conference Final Set (Again)

  1. Windy City Z says:

    Well Surprise, Surprise, Coach Q has Handzus back on the 2nd line with Kane in his ongoing and diabolical plan to frustrate Kaner into leaving for good….and Congratulations Peter Regin, you did a heck of a job, now grab some bench because Bollig is back in the lineup so the team can be a little worse…just the way Q likes it.

  2. Mike the Mook says:

    This is a good match up for the Hawks, unlike the WILD and even BLUES who are the future of the West. This LA Series should be a good one for Hawks, they have favorable match ups are deeper and quicker. LA is a little lazy, slower and are prone to make mistakes. LA is not as deep and
    they do have QUICK . . . but that will not help Hawks in 5 maybe 6.

  3. ebonyraptor says:

    Dynasty talk will follow the winner of this series. That’s obvious should the Hawks prevail, but also for the Kings who would be in position the win the Cup for the second time in three years, a better claim on dynasty than the Hawks two in four. So this series means even more than the Kings trying to take the Cup away from the Hawks, they’re trying to take away the mantle the Hawks have as the best team of the decade. The Kings don’t want just the Hawks crown, they want their reputation and legacy too.

    Both team know this. This should be good. I hope.

  4. Mining Man says:

    Good point EbonyR …not the same Kings we previously dumped….addition of Gaborik is very dangerous, a one man wrecking crew. The team has top playoff experience equal to that of the Blackhawks. They came back from down 3-0, can dominate in away games and will be highly motivated to win this. Not dismissing this as some kind of cakewalk. We are going to have to play our game, which I personally don’t think we have seen yet for a full 60 minutes. This and the rest could be in our favour for the start. Game one should be overwhelmingly for us with LA flying in on short turnaround. We will need every edge that comes our way and this scenario is favourable. Hopefully the California “chill out” approach to things works for us as well. You know, as in “Get Shorty” spoken by the late Dennis Farina ..”its chilly inside, its chilly outside, its a regular #@%&* chilli festival! That would be very good for us. Blackhawks win Cup.

  5. Mining Man says:

    1971…REVENGE! against the Habs for sure. With Scotty in our box looking on. Hows that for karma, cripes my head would explode. As good as getting it against Pittsburg…ya, lets do it in chronological order.

  6. Sr. Brad says:

    As always guys, it really isn’t about who we are playing or their “style”. It is always about the Hawks staying FOCUSED on THEIR game and their methods. LA, ANA, who cares…this is the NHL and each team is outfitted with talent, the Kings are no different. But no team possesses what the Hawks have…elite talent who know how to win, a great coach who has instilled the concept of TEAM Defence, 4 lines that can grind you into a fine powder, speed, surprising toughness, and a will to win unsurpassed.

    It is the kings who need to be worried…and with Crawford getting better and better and Shaw close to coming back, we are a handful for anyone. With only 8 more wins to the prize, its too late to be worrying about or bitching about lines and rosters…even with Zus and Bollig in the lineup the Hawks have exactly what it takes to win yet another Cup. So for us, like the team, its all about FOCUS. Q has put Zus on the 2nd line with Sharp and Kane, and while they might not be able to generate much offence, they also shouldn’t get into any trouble. And with Kruger and Smith back home on the 4th line with Bollig, that line should be able to easily skate 10 big minutes a game (giving the kings trouble) keeping the MONSTER line of Toews, Hossa and Bickell fresh to wreck havoc.

    With Brookbank playing so well, the Hawks have 7 solid defenders to skate…Hammer’s throat should be a lot better and Keith should be a lot fresher. At the back end is CC to execute rebound control and keep solid angles. Team defence will do the rest.

    So here’s to Sunday, and the start of 8 more wins! Game faces on…

  7. MS says:

    The comment that the Kings are a “little lazy” is nuts. I live in LA and this team is definitely better than last year. Up front Gaborik has woken up from an extended slumber and there are two skilled, hard working young guys in Toffoli and Pearson. Their D is the question mark with the loss of two veterans in Mitchell and Regehr (not sure if either will be back during the series). I tend to agree with Brad that this is more about Chicago playing their game but the Hawks D definitely needs to step it up in the series as LA has much better finishers than either the Wild or Blues. Lastly the Kings are quietly confident – nothing rattles them. They were relishing the two game sevens so far this year and the results were impressive. Should be a great series – looking for Sharp and the D to step up and bring us the victory!

  8. Dave says:

    Nice to see your “optimism,” WindyCityZ. #smh

    Mining Man—you forgetting about 1973?

  9. Windy City Z says:

    I have a ton of optimism. What does optimism have to do with telling the truth that the Hawks are a worse team with Bollig in the lineup than they are with Regin. It’s the 4th line but it’s hard enough to win the Cup without handicapping your own team. It has nothing to do with optimism when I say Kane is worse off with Handzus centering his line, every stat alive not to mention the eye test backs that up. I am rooting for the Hawks with all I got, and I think this team can win another cup… I hope this team can win another Cup… but that doesn’t mean I don’t think Q is being a stubborn sob when it comes to playing “experience” over production/speed…but I’m sure that he’ll put the lines in a blender halfway through game 1 anyway, and we will see Regin again before this series is over. Don’t get me wrong Coach Q does a million things right as well, and he pushes the right buttons and pulls right the levers more time than not, but that doesn’t mean he’s infallible. Go Hawks!! 8 more wins!

  10. wall says:

    Kings are much faster w Toffoli, Pearson, Gab, healthy Brown in lineup vs. last year…

    And get elite finisher in Gaborik…

    Shaw will need to be healthy (90% +)– or Hawks may be in trouble here…
    Never seen the Kings look that fast/aggressive in Game 7…

    Regin got “the Belt” in game 5 from Toews… and now he gets “the Boot” from Q???

  11. Travis says:

    Whose shaft does Regin have to lick to get a roster spot? Presumably the same person whose shaft Bollig licks to get a roster spot.

    Regardless of the roster, if the Hawks are as gritty on the puck as they were in game 5 with the Wild, and get their transition game going, nobody beats us 4 out of 7. But the Hawks have only played their A-game for two periods in the first two rounds, game 6 period 3 vs. StL, and game 5 period 2 vs. Wild, so that’s a big if.

    Prediction*: Kings and Hawks split two in Chicago, then split two in LA. Both teams win at home in games 5 and 6, and the Hawks’ win streak in series tied 2-2 ends at 15. After game 6, the media has a circle-jerk over LA’s 7-0 record facing elimination. But in game 7, fatigue catches up to LA, the Hawks win 3-1 and we all enjoy the Tom Cruise Struggle Face. Crawford will make 23 saves in that game 7, and Ben Smith with the game 7 GWG. Dustin Brown will dive 15 times in the series, besting Ryan Kesler’s previous record of 14.

    *The amount of fun had in making predictions is proportional to the specificity of the prediction.

    GO HAWKS!!!

  12. shamrock says:

    I too don’t really understand why Bollig gets so much consideration from Q? If the only reason he gets time is for his size his lack of playing time offsets that. Also with Sharp struggling maybe Q should try him at center on the second line, if he is unwilling to try regin, with Kane and then you could try bickell, versteeg, smith, on that line. I would also like to see Morin rather than bollig on that fourth line.

  13. McKay says:

    Kings are better but the Hawks are better too. Kane, Toews, Keith, and Seabs are another year into their prime. All of the non-core have an extra year of experience under their belt.

    Who do they try to stick Kopitar onto – Kane or Toews? Will be interesting to see. I’m looking forward to the match-up.

  14. the Greek says:

    Whoever said at the top of the post that the Blues are the future of the west…you are fuckin crazy. The Hawks are both the present and future of the west. Our present and future lineups are equal to and in fact better than anyone in the west, hell, the entire league actually. So tired of all the nonsense I read both here and other blogs where the experts chime in with all of their wisdom. You morons need to sit back, enjoy the show. These Hawks are one of a kind for us, havent seen, nor will we see another one like it here in town when its gone. Rockstars.

  15. the Greek says:

    Lest I forget… Hawks in 5.

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