Chicago Blackhawks (0-0-0) vs Los Angeles Kings (0-0-0), 2pm Staples Center - Los Angeles, CA, TV: NBC, Radio: WGN 720 AM
The Blackhawks start the shorten 2013 season with a trip to Los Angeles to take on the reigning Stanley Cup champions. The Kings will finally get to raise their Stanley Cup banner, nearly seven months to day since they won the greatest trophy in sports. Since the lost season of 2004-05, only two defending champs, the Ducks and the Penguins, have won on the same day they raised their banner. So we got that going for us, which is nice!
Last season the Hawks only picked up one win in four tries versus the Kings. That win came in the first meeting of the year, at the Staples Center. The Hawks only scored 4 goals in those games and were shutout twice. Marcus Kruger and Viktor Stalberg were the only Blackhawks to have 2 points against the Kings last year. Corey Crawford, who gets the start in net, was 1-2 versus Los Angeles with a 2.90 GAA and a .907 save % in three starts last season. Captain Jonathan Toews, who missed practice Friday with the flu, has had a pretty good career against the Kings. In 18 games he has scored 9 goals, added 7 assists and is a + 11. Steve Montador has not made the trip out west this weekend as he has not fully recovered from his concussion(s) suffered last season.
The Kings became the darlings of the post season last year, with their run from 8th seed to Stanley Cup Champions. The fact they steamrolled the penisloaves that are the Canucks, Blues and Coyotes, earned them a special place in my hockey heart. They are bringing back essentially the same exact team from last year's playoff run. Who would have thought that Colin Fraser would have his name on the Stanley Cup more than Jonathan Toews? Goaltender Jonathan Quick doesn't have a great record record against the Hawks in his career due to poor goal support. He is 5-9-1 but does boast a 2.35 GAA and a .925 save % in 15 career start versus our boys. Anze Kopitar is going to miss tomorrow's game due to a knee injury he suffered while playing in Sweden during the lockout. Defenseman Willie Mitchell will also miss tomorrow's game after a setback from offseason knee surgery.
So all the talk ends at 2 pm this afternoon. All the speculation will come to fruition. The road to the 2013 Stanley Cup begins with watching someone else raise their banner. This is going to be a wild ride, and I am thrilled to share it with you on this great site. I don't know about you but I am very excited for some Blackhawks hockey!