Dec 15, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wing Ben Smith (28) shoots the puck against Los Angeles Kings goalie Ben Scrivens (54) during the third period at the United Center. The Blackhawks won 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports
Another game, another matchup against an elite Western Conference team. The Chicago Blackhawks couldn’t have asked for a much harder chunk of schedule, that they are in, right now. The Los Angeles Kings are well rested, as they haven’t played since Saturday’s disappointing loss to the Nashville Predators.
The Last time, the Blackhawks and Kings played, was on December 15th, in Chicago, where the Blackhawks won the game, by a score of 3-1.
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As you can see, neither team has a real advantage here. These teams are, more or less, the opposites of each other. For example, the Blackhawks are far and away the best team, in the NHL, when it comes to Goals For, while the Kings are a middle of the road team, in Goals For. Take a look at Goals Against, the Kings are far and away the best team, in the NHL, and the Blackhawks are just average. The same goes for Special Teams as well as Save Percentage, where both teams are yin and yang to each other. One area where both teams are similar, is possession stats. Both teams are in the top 10, in Faceoff Percentage and both teams are the best two teams, in Corsi For Percentage. This is the first ingredient to each team’s success, but it’s what they do with the puck, that makes these teams elite, for polar opposite reasons.
The Kings are sitting in 3rd place, in the highly competitive Pacific Division, with a record of 25-10-4, and have gone 7-3, in their last 10 games. While the Kings are more of a defensive-minded team, they are definitely no slouch, when it comes it offense. Anze Kopitar is the team’s main offensive threat. Mike Richards, Justin Williams, and Jeff Carter are all having fine offensive seasons. Captain Dustin Brown hasn’t put up big points, but he always makes his presence felt, in every game that he plays in. From the blueline, Drew Doughty is one of the best defenseman, in the game, and chips in a lot of points too.
The Kings success, this season has been remarkable, especially due to the absence of all-world goaltender, Jonathan Quick. The Kings really haven’t missed a beat, in net, as Ben Scrivens has really stepped up, and had a fantastic season, with a .938 Save Percentage, in 17 starts, this season.
The Blackhawks are looking to rebound from a disappointing loss to their biggest rival, the St. Louis Blues. Not much else has been disappointing, for the Blackhawks, this season, as they are sitting in 1st place, in the Central Division, with a record of 27-7-7, and have gone 7-1-2, in their last 10 games.
Patrick Sharp is fresh off of his Player of the Week honors, as he has 6 goals, in his last 5 games. The other Patrick, Patrick Kane, is literally a point(or more) per night player, as he is having the best season of his career. Captain Jonathan Toews puts up elite-level points and also plays elite level defense, from the center position. Duncan Keith has enough points to be a top-line forward, as he continues his quest for his 2nd Norris Trophy.
Corey Crawford‘s injury could have left the Hawks in a very vulnerable posistion, but Antti Raanta has more than picked up the slack, in his NHL debut. Raanta has put up an okay .906 Save Percentage, in his 14 games played. However, he is coming off of a rough game, against the Blues.
Both teams have had very similar stories, this season, but have written them with very different colors of ink. In what is another possible playoff preview, is also another Western Conference Finals rematch, as two of the best teams, in the Western Conference faceoff. It should be a great game!