Game Preview: Chicago Blackhawks Open Post All-Star Break Portion of Season with Los Angeles Kings


November 29, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane (88) controls the puck against the Los Angeles Kings during the second period at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Yay!  They’re back!  And they are back to play real hockey!  The Chicago Blackhawks return from the NHL All-Star break to kick off the 6-game “Ice Show” road trip tonight against the Los Angeles Kings.

This will be the 2nd game of the 3-game season series between the last season’s Western Conference Finalists.  The Hawks won the first game back on November 29th, while they were on the “Circus Trip”.  Puck drop is set for 9:30 PM Central Time.  Tonight’s game can be seen on CSN-Chicago as well as NBCSN.  The game can be heard on WGN 720 AM.

Here’s a statistical breakdown of the Hawks and Kings.

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Offensively, the Hawks have been one of the best in the league and they will be facing a Kings’ defense that has been solid, this season.

Defensively, the Hawks are an elite team and tonight they will face the Kings’ offensive attack that has been average this season.

On the Power Play, the Hawks have been roughly average and they will take on a not-so-great Kings’ Penalty Kill.

On the Penalty Kill, the Hawks have been the best in the league all season and tonight they will face an above-average Power Play, from the Kings.

In the faceoff circle, the Hawks have been very good this season, as have the Kings.

In terms of puck-possession, the Hawks have been elite all season and they will be fighting for the puck with a Kings team that has been above average at controlling the puck.

Much has been made about the Kings’ “struggles” this season, but there are plenty of teams that would love to be in their position(within striking distance of a playoff spot).  Just by looking at their numbers, the Kings are a respectable team with even more talent.  The Hawks’ numbers suggest that they are an elite team, and they are.  However, elite only has the Hawks in a tie for 2nd in their division.

During the regular season, the Hawks have dominated the Kings.  Winners of 4 consecutive games and 5 of the last 6, including 7 of the last 8 games played in L.A, the Hawks have the Kings’ regular season number.  We all know that it’s much closer in the playoffs, and with the Kings somewhat desperate, tonight’s game could be somewhere between playoff intensity and regular season intensity.  Having said all that, the Hawks certainly do hold the advantage in this one.

The Kings currently hold a 20-15-12 record, which is good for 52 points and 5th place in the Pacific Division.  As mediocre as all that sounds, the Kings are only 3 points behind the Calgary Flames, who hold the 2nd and final Wild Card position in the Western Conference playoffs.

Anze Kopitar leads the Kings in points with 37 in 44 games played.  Superstar defenseman, Drew Doughtyhas recorded 24 assists already this season after only recording 27 all of last season.  Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson have cemented themselves as part of the Kings’ long-term core moving forward, as they are both tied with veteran Jeff Carter for the team-lead in goals, with 12 apiece.  Team captain, Dustin Brownhas never been a huge point-producer(although he’s not really a huge slouch either) but it’s his physical borderline dirty and agitator style that makes his tough to play against.

In net for the Kings will likely be Jonathan Quick.  Quick was having a great season, but has struggled lately, and now has a very “meh” .912 Save Percentage.

The Hawks are sporting a 30-15-2 record, which is good for 62 points and a tie for 2nd place in the Central Division with the St. Louis Blues.  The Hawks and Blues currently sit 5 points behind the 1st place Nashville Predators.

Before the All-Star break, Patrick Kane was having a career year.  Look for him to continue it, tonight and eventually set new career-highs in points, and goals.  Jonathan Toews was in the midst of a bit of a hot-streak before the break.  Hopefully, he can pick up right where he left off.  After struggling during most of the 1st half of the season, Andrew Shaw responded to his benching by returning to form and then some, as he had a 2 goal night, against the Arizona Coyotes, and made his presence felt against the Pittsburgh Penguins.  Look for him to continue his return to form.

In net for the Hawks will be Corey Crawford.  Crawford is having a solid season and was rediscovering his groove after struggling to return from injury.  Look for Crawford to either maintain or slightly improve his .921 Save Percentage.

It’s great that the regular season is rolling again, and tonight’s Hawks/Kings matchup is a good one.  We’ve still got a ways to go before the playoffs. but be honest…you’re still mad about how Game 7 ended.  Beat the Kings!

Go Hawks!