WCF Preview : A Look At Eric Cartman's Favorite Team
With the Western Conference Final starting on Saturday, lets see what the defending Stanley Cup champions have been up to.
Chicago Blackhawks (1) vs Los Angeles Kings (5)
|Game 1||Sat 6/1||LAK @ CHI||4pm||NBCSN|
|Game 2||Sun 6/2||LAK @ CHI||7pm||NBCSN|
|Game 3||Tue 6/4||CHI @ LAK||8pm||NBCSN|
|Game 4||Thur 6/6||CHI @ LAK||8pm||NBCSN|
|Game 5*||Sat 6/8||LAK @ CHI||7pm||NBC|
|Game 6*||Mon 6/10||CHI @ LAK||8pm||NBCSN|
|Game 7*||Wed 6/12||LAK @ CHI||TBD||NBCSN|
Regular Season Series
|1/19||CHI 5 LAK 2||Frolik|
|2/17||CHI 3 LAK 2||Sharp|
|3/25||LAK 5 CHI 4||Brown|
Kings Depth Chart
Willie Mitchell - knee (out for season), Jarret Stoll - concussion (out indefinitely)
Kings Playoff Stats
The first thing that comes to mind when thinking of the Kings forwards is their size. They have some big boys on their front lines that will cause fits for the Blackhawks. The Kings only have one player with 5 goals, Jeff Carter, whereas the Hawks have 3 players with at least 5. Mike Richards leads the team with 10 points (2 G, 8 A). Hopefully the Hawks can contain him like they did in the 2010 Cup Final, when Richards was held to just one goal and one assist in the six game series. Dustin Brown has been a bit of a disappointment with only 4 points (3 G, 1 A) in the playoffs so far. But the Kings offensive struggles do not end with Brown. Los Angeles is averaging exactly 2 goals a game which is by far the lowest of the four Conference Final teams. They are averaging just 24.8 shots a game, which has them ranked dead last in the playoffs. The Chicago defense has only allowed 28.2 shots per game, which is tops for the remaining teams. The Kings will need to find a way to produce more scoring if they want to knock off the Blackhawks.
Since the Kings are having problems producing goals, more pressure is applied to their defense. The LA blue liners have certainly done their part. They have held their opponents to just 29.4 shots a game, 2nd only to the Hawks out of the remaining playoff teams. The Kings defenders have also chipped in offensively as well because someone has to score goals. Slava Voynov (4) and Drew Doughty (2) have combined for 23% of the Kings goals this post season. The Hawks forwards will need to be mindful of this all series long. Doughty is the Duncan Keith of the Kings, as in he will eat up a ton of minutes and is not afraid to join the rush. The Kings defense is one of the better units in the league and is a key contributor to the success of Jonathan Quick.
Jonathan Quick struggled a bit in the regular season, which is not surprising for a goaltender recovering from off season back surgery. Quick has looked like he has regained his Conn Smythe winning form, from a year ago, since the playoffs has started. His 1.50 goals against average, .948 save percentage and 3 shutouts leads all playoff goalies. The Hawks will have to find ways to get more pucks to the net which is not what Quick has been used to seeing. Bryan Bickell will need to a force in front of the net to screen Quick and get into his head, if that's possible. Quick has been fast to lose his cool at times this post season, so this is where guys like Bickell and Andrew Shaw can play a major role. Quick has had a history of giving up rebounds on low, hard shots so the Hawks will have to be willing to pay the price in the "dirty areas" to score some goals. This series could very likely come down to the play of the goaltenders, so Corey Crawford will have his work cut out for him this round.
The Kings power play unit has scored on 20% (7 of 35) of their chances this post season. We all know the struggles of the Hawks power play who is 6 for 37, but came up big in Games 5 and 6 versus the Red Wings. The Kings will have to deal with a Hawks penalty kill unit that has only given up one power play goal in 41 chances. That is good for a ridiculous 97.6 % kill rate. The Los Angeles PK unit has been pretty good by killing off 86% (37 of 43) of their penalties against them. Their PK has not been nearly as good on the road as it has been at the Staples Center. They have given up 5 of their 6 power play goals on the road, so the Hawks need to get the jump in the special teams goals this weekend. Both teams have scored one shorthanded goal so far in the playoffs.
If you thought the previous series was tough and hard on the old ticker, this one should be even tougher. Some people are making a stink about Games 1 and 2 being played on consecutive days. This would be a much bigger deal had the Kings dispatched the Sharks in 4 or 5 games, but they had themselves a hard fought seven series as well. With all the back to back games and three games in four nights the Hawks had to play this year, this should not be that big of an issue. Both teams will be effected equally by the schedule. I really feel this series will come down to the Blackhawks ability to play physical and defend their home ice. The Hawks will need to bring the toughness from the last three games against the Wings and more. The Kings are a perfect 7-0 at home this post season and have won 14 straight home games overall. They have not lost at the Staples Center since March 23rd versus the Canucks. On the flip side, the Kings are just 1-5 on the road, with their only playoff road win coming in Game 5 of the opening round at the Blues. The Hawks worked hard to get home ice advantage throughout the playoffs for reasons just like this. As long as they defend the Madhouse ice they will be just fine. I am predicting the Blackhawks to win in 7, with the home team winning every game.
For all things Kings on SB Nation be sure to check out Jewels From The Crown and for your daily dose of hockey humor head on over to Battle Of California.