Kukla's Korner Hockey
Information compiled by the NHL PR department...
Chicago forward Marian Hossa has scored seven goals this postseason, a League-high six of which have given his team the lead (his other tally was a game-tying goal). Twenty-two of Hossa’s 43 career playoff goals (51.2%) have been go-ahead scores. That is the highest percentage among active players with 40 or more postseason goals and the fourth-highest rate in NHL history (also 40-goal minimum). The top three players in that regard are Stephane Richer (54.7%), Dale Hunter (52.4%) and Mike Modano (51.7%). (Elias)
Hossa ranks second on the Blackhawks with 7-7—14, including two game-winning goals, in 16 games this postseason. He also places fifth among active players with 43-68—111, including 10 game-winning scores, in 146 career playoff games.
Chicago forward Bryan Bickell continued his postseason surge with his eighth goal and first multi-point game of the playoffs (1-1—2). Bickell’s eight goals are tied for second in the League (with teammate Patrick Sharp), while his 11 points rank third on the Blackhawks. He has recorded at least one point in each of the first four games of the Western Conference Final (3-2—5).
from Helene Elliott of the LA Times,
The specifics behind the Kings' 3-2 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday, their first loss at Staples Center since March 23 and perhaps their final home game this season, were painfully clear.
They made bad line changes that contributed to two goals. Had defensive breakdowns that once were uncharacteristic but have been occurring with more frequency as they drag their tired bodies deeper into the Western Conference finals. Made too many turnovers in the neutral zone, where games are often lost or won.
From a big-picture perspective, there's one overriding reason they could come home from Chicago on Saturday with no games left on their schedule and no chance to repeat as Stanley Cup champions.
They're not scoring enough goals or coming up with the won't-be-denied victories in battles along the boards they were winning against St. Louis and San Jose. They maintained their average of two goals per game on Thursday but made enough mistakes to give up three goals to a Blackhawks team that smoothly compensated for the absence of vital but suspended defenseman Duncan Keith.
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.
via Jon Rosen of LA Kings Insider,
-Mike Richards took the ice for roughly 20 minutes at the Kings’ optional practice Wednesday. He did not take any contact and skated with light-to-moderate exertion. I’ll post Darryl Sutter’s quotes later this afternoon; there remains no timetable for Richards’ return to the lineup.
-Jeff Carter received 20 stitches as well as several cracked and chipped teeth after taking Duncan Keith’s stick to his face. He has put the incident behind him; his quotes will also be posted this afternoon.
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.
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.
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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