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Can’t Stop: Blackhawks vs. Kings Preview

The Blackhawks have lost seven in a row. Will the Kings make it eight?

NHL: MAR 24 Blackhawks at Kings
Los Angeles Kings defenseman Olli Maatta and Chicago Blackhawks forward Taylor Raddysh in NHL action
Photo by Rob Curtis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Can you believe it? The Chicago Blackhawks have lost seven in a row, their longest losing streak since they lost nine in a row to start the season. What a weird thing to happen. Wild.

Anyway, the Blackhawks will welcome the Los Angeles Kings to town, with the teams having just met on March 24 — a 4-3 shootout win for the Blackhawks, who haven’t won since. The Kings are competing for the final playoff spot in the Pacific Division, up two points over the Golden Knights, who now have a game in hand.

The Kings have no games left against the Knights, and after three straight losses, can’t afford to squander any more points and will be in desperation mode against the Blackhawks on Tuesday.

The Kings, who were very injured the last time these two teams competed in a very contentious contest, have healed up somewhat. But they’re still missing key pieces like Drew Doughty (who is now out for the rest of the season due to wrist surgery), Dustin Brown and Sean Walker. However, players like Viktor Arvidsson, who has 42 points and 20 goals in 59 games, have returned to the lineup.

The last time these two teams met, the Kings dominated possession quantity at 5-on-5, owning a 38-27 advantage in shots on goal and 69-38 in shot attempts. However, the Blackhawks had a better share of possession quality with an advantage of 3.16-2.95 in expected goals.

The Kings are led by Anze Kopitar, who has 18 goals and 61 points in 74 games, while Adrian Kempe leads the team with 32 goals in 71 games. The Kings continue to have much better center depth than the Blackhawks, with Kopitar, Phillip Danault and Quinton Byfield down the middle and Blake Lizotte on the fourth line.

In net, Jonathan Quick has been the better of LA’s two netminders this season with a .909 save percentage and 9.53 goals saved above expected. Quick’s battery partner, Cal Peterson has a .899 save percentage and minus-5.51 goals saved above expected.

The Kings are one of the best possession teams in the league as well, fourth in Corsi at 54.22% and ninth in expected goal share at 52.95%. The Kings are largely successful in terms of possession thanks to their offense, which has generated the fifth-most expected goals for per 60 over the season (2.8).

The Kings are less successful away from 5-on-5, with the 28th ranked power play and 22nd ranked penalty kill. In part, that’s due to the 30th best shooting percentage on the power play and the 25th best save percentage on the penalty kill. In fact, the Kings’ luck anywhere is not great, with the 28th best PDO across all strengths and 30th best at 5-on-5.

Los Angeles is perhaps better than their record indicates, due to their possession being better than the results they’ve seen, while they’re also a good deal younger than you’d expect and if anything have even more prospects coming. The Kings are in the midst of a rebuild and should be an example for the Blackhawks of how to do it.

The Kings are now seeing the impacts of young players the Blackhawks hope to see soon and are in a competitive race for the playoffs, a much better position than the Blackhawks.

While the Blackhawks need a win after a seven-game losing streak, they could also use this game as a learning opportunity from a team that plays well and has a young lineup.

Speaking of those Blackhawks, a few lineup changes from Monday’s practice saw the breaking up of the Erie Otters line and another expected goalie rotation:

Caleb Jones is also expected to be back in the lineup.

Blackhawks — Statistic — Kings

46.19% (30th) — 5-on-5 Corsi For — 54.22% (4th)

44.97% (30th) — 5-on-5 Expected goals for — 52.95% (9th)

2.61 (27th) — Goals per game — 2.81 (22nd)

3.51 (26th) — Goals against per game — 2.84 (11th)

48.8% (19th) — Faceoffs — 52.8% (5th)

21.1% (17th) — Power play — 16.8% (28th)

74.9% (27th) — Penalty kill — 76.6% (22nd)

Projected lineups (subject to change)

Blackhawks

Kurashev — Toews — Kane

DeBrincat — Strome — Reichel

Raddysh — Dach — Lafferty

Katchouk — R. Johnson — Entwistle

Vlasic — S. Jones

McCabe — Regular

Stillman — C. Jones

Delia

Lankinen

Kings

Iafallo — Kopitar — Kempe

Moore — Danault — Arvidsson

Vilardi — Byfield — Kupari

Lemieux — Lizotte — Grundstrom

Bjornfot — Durzi

Maatta — Spence

Roy — Stecher

Quick/Peterson

How to watch

When: 7:30 p.m. CT

Where: United Center, Chicago

TV: NBC Sports Chicago

Webstream: ESPN+