Here are five things to watch in the upcoming Kings and Blackhawks matchup:The Battle between the Pipes: Good goaltending wins Stanley Cups and both the Kings and Blackhawks have elite goaltenders in Jonathan Quick and Corey Crawford, the winning goalies on each of the last two Stanley Cup winners. Jonathan Quick has been dominant at times this postseason but he’s also struggled at times. Los Angeles will need the dominant Quick throughout the series. He’s one of the rare goaltenders that can steal a postseason game. If he can avoid a rough stretch, like in the opening round versus San Jose, the Kings will be in good shape.
Recent History: Chicago has won nine of the past eleven meetings between the two clubs, including the 4-1 defeat in last year’s playoffs. The Blackhawks also dominated this year’s season series, going 3-0-1 versus Los Angeles this year. History is clearly not on the side of the Kings, but it wasn’t on their side when they came back versus the Sharks in the opening round. Chicago will enter the Western Conference final on four days rest while the Kings will have just a day of rest. The lack of rest may be a benefit for the Kings who having the confidence of a dominant victory over the Ducks in game seven.
The Gaborik Factor: Marian Gaborik has added an extra element to the Kings attack this season, with nine goals thus far in the playoffs. He’s built a dynamic partnership with Anze Kopitar. Gaborik and Kopitar are the two leading scorers this NHL postseason, with a total of 34 points between them. In a postseason where Mike Richards and Jeff Carter have struggled to score goals, the Kopitar and Gaborik have given them a dynamic additional element.Defend home ice: The Kings have shown the ability to win on the road in the playoffs, winning five combined road games in the opening two rounds. Unfortunately they’ve also shown a propensity to not win on home ice. Los Angeles is 5-3 away from STAPLES Center, but just 3-3 at STAPLES Center, including two losses at home versus Anaheim in the second round. To defeat the Blackhawks the Kings will have to steal a game at United Center, while defending their home ice. The key is coming out with the urgency they’ve shown in road elimination games versus San Jose and Anaheim.
Production from the Kings Youth: Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli are two impressive young players who’ve made a great impact during the postseason. Like Gaborik, Pearson and Toffoli give the Kings some added speed and quickness. The Western Conference finals versus Chicago are a big spot for a young player to perform in. If the Kings young talented forwards can produce they might be a big factor in the Kings success.
This is an on going contest for the Kings Vs Blackhawks Western Conference Finals playoff games. The contest starts today May 17th and goes through till the end of the series. You can enter once per day via twitter of google+ only.
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BY: Chris M.