Kukla's Korner Hockey
A win by the Kings evens the series at 2, a win by the Blackhawks makes it 3-1 and Chicago will have a chance to move on to the SCF with a win at home on Saturday night.
Mike Richards is still out for the Kings while Duncan Keith will be serving his one game suspension tonight.
I call this game a toss-up but because the Kings are playing at home (8-0 this post-season), I am giving them the win.
Game starts just after 9:00pm ET and is on NBCSN, CBC and RDS.
from Randy Sportak of the Calgary Sun,
Kane isn't alone in struggling to light the lamp for the Blackhawks. Captain Jonathan Toews is as complete a player as anybody in the NHL, but he has just one playoff goal this year.
Both are continuing a trend. Since he netted the Stanley Cup-clincher in 2010, Kane has three goals in his last 28 playoff games. Toews has four goals in that time.
“I think both sides of the equation, both sides' top guys haven't been productive in the rounds we've been in,” Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville said.
“I just think you're playing against top defences. They get a lot of attention both sides of the puck. Scoring has been tough throughout the playoffs for everybody. I think Johnny is such a competitor, he complements our team game the way you hope. But at the same time, offensively, it would be nice to see a little bit more finish.”
Kane's game isn't as strong defensively, so the onus is higher on him to produce, and right now Quenneville is reminding him to find his top gear.
“When he has more speed in his game, he seems to have the puck a lot more,” Quenneville said. “When he's playing his best hockey, he has the puck, he's dangerous with it. I just think when he has the puck, not too many players in the league can do what he can do.”
Brendan Shanahan explains the suspension.
Kings were unable to take advantage of the penalty, score is 2-1 LA at the 2nd period break.
If you want another version of the high-sticking, watch the TSN broadcast below...
The Kings are looking at game 3 as a must win game while the Blackhawks want to extended their winning streak to six games.
What will it be, an 0-3 lead for Chicago or will LA make it a series?
Game starts just after 9:00pm ET on NBCSN, TSN and RDS.
from Allan Muir of Sports Illustrated,
“Obviously it’s not do-or-die, but it is,” said Kings forward Justin Williams, channeling his inner Yogi Berra on Monday.
A win tonight at the Staples Center, where they’re on a 14-0 run, and the Kings silence the doubters and earn a chance to even it up on Thursday night.
Lose and Game 4 becomes a wake.
True, there’s always a chance that the Kings could rebound from being down 3-0 if they stumble tonight. The 2010 Philadelphia Flyers team that featured current Kings Mike Richards and Jeff Carter turned that very trick by coming back to eliminate the Boston Bruins. But that was against a mediocre team with an unproven Tuukka Rask in net. These Hawks are a different beast, battle-proven and capable of quickly crushing the life out of the Kings if they’re not significantly better than what they’ve shown so far in this series.
Of course, they can be. This is the same team that recovered from a 2-0 deficit against the St. Louis Blues in the first round by pumping up the aggression and running off four straight wins.
But those Kings seemed fresher. And they certainly were healthier.
Reports just coming in from the Kings' morning skate is Mike Richards is not on the ice.
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
Remember the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon? It’s a word game based on the concept of six degrees of separation, and starts with the premise that everybody in the Hollywood film industry can be linked - in six steps or fewer – to the actor Kevin Bacon.
Well, in the Western Conference final against the Los Angeles Kings, the part of Kevin Bacon can be played by Patrick Sharp, who was has been arguably the Chicago Blackhawks best forward in these playoffs, playing on a variety of lines for coach Joel Quenneville.
from Cal Cole of the Vancouver Sun,
When did Joel Quenneville first realize that Bryan Bickell could be this good?
“Five years ago when he was first called up,” the Chicago Blackhawks head coach said Sunday morning. “We played him with Toews and Kaner that year. There's ability there. You like his size, his speed. He can shoot and be physical.
“He's got all the elements that you look for in a power forward. Putting it all together has been a process.”
Well, that’s five years sooner than most of the hockey world.
To those less familiar with the Blackhawks’ process, Bickell might as well have emerged from the womb, fully grown, sometime during the last two weeks, when his 6-foot-4, 233-pound frame began raising welts on the Detroit Red Wings’ puck handlers in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, although that may have been the least surprising aspect of his game.
The fun part was that he played his way into a top-six role on one of hockey’s most talented scoring squads, doing what hardly anyone else -- on his team, or the Red Wings -- could do in a very hotly-contested, well-coached, positionally-demanding series: make an offensive impact.
Information below provided by the NHL PR department,
TIME TO SHINE
Bryan Bickell’s goal early in the second period proved to be the game-winner, his second of the playoffs. Bickell has six goals overall in 14 games this postseason, or one every 2.33 contests. He recorded nine goals in 48 regular-season games this year, or one every 5.33 contests.
GOOD TO BE HOME
Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford improved to 8-1 with a 1.50 goals-against average and .940 save percentage in nine starts at United Center this postseason. That matches his home win total from the entire regular season, when he went 8-2-3 with a 2.26 goals-against average and .917 save percentage in 13 appearances.
Final score was 4-2 but the Kings scored late to make the score closer than it actually was.
Los Angeles still hasn't been able to sustain any offensive momentum and I imagine the media will be pointing the lack of scoring from Kopitar, Brown and others needs to change in a hurry.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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