Chicago Blackhawks vs. Los Angeles Kings: What to Watch and What to Know
By Juliana Nikac
The Chicago Blackhawks face off against the Los Angeles Kings for the first time this season. Here’s what to watch and what to know ahead of tonight’s game.
Coming off their first win in the Jeremy Colliton era, the Chicago Blackhawks will take on the last-place Los Angeles Kings. The game will be on NBC Sports Chicago and NHL Network for TV and WGN for radio at 7:30 pm central. This is the first of three matchups against the Kings.
The Blackhawks activated forward Marcus Kruger off Injured Reserve today and placed defenseman Brandon Davidson on IR, retroactive to November 13.
Here’s how the Blackhawks’ lines will look this evening:
Crawford is expected to start in net.
The Blackhawks won their first game on Wednesday since October 25. It was one of their best performances this season. It’s also their first shutout of the season and first since November 4, 2017. Corey Crawford stopped 28 shots and has a .911 save percentage through ten games.
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Brent Seabrook scored the only goal of the game on the power play, picking up his third of the year. He has 10 points in 19 games and leads all Blackhawks’ defensemen in scoring. Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane assisted on the goal, giving them their sixth and 11th assists of the season.
After collecting four points in his first three games, Nick Schmaltz only has three points in his last 15 games. It’s unclear what exactly his problem is and why he’s hit a slump, but the Blackhawks need to get him going. On a line with Toews and Kane, Schmaltz should be able to find his scoring touch again. He has to shoot the puck more often. There are too many opportunities he’s given to shoot and he opts to pass or doesn’t do anything. As an essential part of the team’s offense, Schmaltz has to get his game back.
Much like the Blackhawks, the Kings fired their head coach this season and Willie Desjardins is now behind the bench. But Los Angeles hasn’t done much since that happened, only winning one out of their last four games. They’ve scored all of six goals in that span and their star forward Anze Kopitar has no points during these games, too.
With their starter Jonathan Quick and backup Jack Campbell both out due to injury, Cal Petersen is expected to be in net for Los Angeles with Peter Budaj under the weather. He allowed one goal on 16 shots after coming in relief for Budaj. This gives the Blackhawks the opportunity to take advantage of not only a weak team but a fourth-string goaltender.
If you’re a betting person, Odds Shark says the Los Angeles Kings will win by a small margin, 3.0-2.5. However, the total will push and the moneyline also favors Los Angeles, as Chicago is listed -160 and the Kings are listed +135.
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Considering how bad the Kings have been this season, it’s easy to favor the Blackhawks winning this game. With how they’ve been performing in the last couple of game, I don’t doubt Chicago try their best to take advantage of a vulnerable team. But they are vulnerable in some areas themselves, so who knows what will happen.
The last time I predicted the outcome of a game, I somehow got it right: a 4-3 Hurricanes win over the Blackhawks. So let’s hope my prediction of a 3-1 Blackhawks win is also correct. Any outcome in which Chicago wins is good (or bad if you want a rebuild).
Follow along with live updates from tonight’s game on Twitter @Blackhawk_Up!