On the heels of yet another blown lead and late-night clean up job, the Chicago Blackhawks remain out west to take on the Kings in Los Angeles on Thursday night.
While the Blackhawks playoff hopes are about as alive as album sales in the year 2022, the Kings sit three points ahead of Vegas, looking to secure the No. 3 seed in the Pacific Division. The main question heading into Thursday evening is whether not the Blackhawks can play spoiler.
If the Blackhawks wish to avenge their 5-2 loss to the Kings just five games ago, they’ll have to break out their big guns. Patrick Kane is no stranger to putting on a show in Hollywood and his line will certainly have to show up on the scoresheet for Chicago to leave LAX with two points as a souvenir.
At the start of the season, this game would’ve resembled an “Oh, how the mighty have fallen” nostalgia matchup — but these Kings have been rolling. Los Angeles has won three of its last four (including that 5-2 beating up of the Hawks) and don’t look to be slowing down anytime soon. Longtime Kings netminder Jonathan Quick is expected to get the start in net, and his .909 save percentage and 2.63 goals-against average has been just enough to keep his crew in a playoff spot. With LA being ranked 21st in the league with an average of 2.82 goals scored per game, stopping pucks from going in has been their primary objective. Granted, teams in the Pacific Division generally seem to have a hard time finding the back on the net.
For the Hawks, Collin Delia is expected to get the nod as they’re facing the second game of a back-to-back. Since trading Marc-Andre Fleury, Blackhawks goaltending has struggled to remain above water, with a save percentage of .887 since the trade deadline that is 26th in the league. Connor Murphy being injured remains a big blow to the Hawks’ blue line, but the goaltending isn’t helping, either. Chicago has to find some way to suppress shots or this game will get out of hand in a hurry.
Trying to predict the outcome of Thursday evening’s game is more or less a roll of the dice. It really depends on which Blackhawks are going to show up. Back-to-backs on the road are tough. This is a winnable game but then again, aren’t they all?
Blackhawks — Statistic — Kings
46.12% (28th) — 5-on-5 Corsi For — 54.23% (5th)
45.17% (29th) — 5-on-5 Expected goals for — 53.25% (8th)
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)
Kubalik — Toews — T. Johnson
DeBrincat — Strome — Kane
Kurashev — Lafferty — Raddysh
Katchouk — R. Johnson — Borgstrom
Vlasic — S. Jones
McCabe — Regula
Stillman — Gustafsson
Athanasiou — Kopitar — Kempe
Moore — Danault — Arvidsson
Iafallo — Lizotte— Brown
Lemieux — Kupari — Kaliyev
Maatta — Spence
Edler — Roy
How to watch
When: 9:30 p.m. CT
Where: Crypto.com Arena, Los Angeles
TV: NBC Sports Chicago