Game 38 Preview And Open Thread: Blackhawks @ Kings

Puck Drop: Jan. 1, 9:30 PM CST

Chicago Blackhawks
Record: 19-15-3
Points: 41
Place: 4th in Central, 11th in Western Conference
Power Play Percentage/Rank: 17.9%, 16th in NHL
Penalty Kill Percentage/Rank: 84.5%, 9th in NHL
Blackhawks Team Statistics


Los Angeles Kings
Record: 14-24-2
Points: 30
Place: 5th in Pacific, 15th in Western Conference
Power Play Percentage/Rank: 19.5%, 8th in NHL
Penalty Kill Percentage/Rank: 78.5%, 27th in NHL
Kings Team Statistics

Second game of a home-and-home series with the Kings, after LA knocked off the Blackhawks on Sunday night in OT, by a score of 3-2.

Denis Savard has juggled the lines for this road trip, according to the Chicago Tribune:

In an effort to put players into their natural positions, Savard broke up the high-scoring "Kids" line, moving rookie Patrick Kane to a line with center Petri Kontiola and Tuomo Ruutu. The move should benefit Kontiola, who was playing wing when paired next to Robert Lang.

Lang will now center for Adam Burish and Jack Skille, while Rene Bourque replaces Kane playing along with Patrick Sharp and rookie center Jonathan Toews.

"Everybody is in their position," Savard said. "Petri is at center, Sharp is at right wing and Bourque is on left wing. They are playing more on their sides, and hopefully that's going to work out for us."

Hopefully Savard knows what he is doing here, because I thought the Sharp-Toews-Kane line was really doing well together, and the Lang-Skille-Burish line really doesn't make much sense to me. Seems like more pointless line changing. David Koci is also going to be playing, and I think there's a good chance we'll see him drop the gloves with Raitis Ivanans, who seemed to mix it up with guys like Tuomo Ruutu and Adam Burish the last time these two teams played.

Just like on Sunday night, it's important for this team to get two points against a lowly opponent like the Kings. They may have won three straight, but they are at the bottom of the Western Conference and are fairly beatable. Chicago should have won in regulation last time -- they need to do that successfully tonight.