Previewing the Los Angeles Kings’ 2012-13 season:
Game 13 @ Chicago, February 17, 2013, 3:30pm PST (12:30pm EST)
After back-to-back wins, the Los Angeles Kings prepare for the toughest test of the season as they travel to the Windy City to take on the high-powered Chicago Blackhawkswho remain the only team in the league yet to lose a game in regulation thus far.
This will be the second of three meetings between the two clubs. The first time the Hawks and Kings squared off came on Opening Day when Chicago dominated from start to finish with a 5-2 victory. That was nearly a month and the Kings sincerely hope they can put that ugly outing far behind them.
If Los Angeles wants to have any chance of winning in Chicago, they will need to be a lot more disciplined than they were during their last meeting with the Hawks who took early advantage of some King penalties before taking over the rest of the game last month. Patrick Kane, who opened the scoring during last month’s meeting on a 5-on-3 man-advantage, leads the Blackhawks with 21 points. His nine goals are also tops on the team followed by Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa who each have six goals and who have had great success against the Kings in recent memory.
While Los Angeles remains last overall in terms of goal production, they will again be forced to rely on their defense and goaltending. Despite being depleted on the back end, some of the healthy Kings D-men like Rob Scuderi, Drew Doughty and Jake Muzzin were able to step up their game, frustrating the Columbus offense en route to their 2-1 victory.
By the time the puck drops to begin Sunday’s contest, goaltender Jonathan Quick will have been off for a week. The two games Los Angeles played since then were started by Jonathan Bernier and the Kings are hoping that a week off will do Quick wonders considering how shaky he was in his last few appearances.
While Chicago’s offense was great the last time they played the Kings, the same could be said for their goaltending. So far, netminder Corey Crawford has exceeded expectations and his spectacular play is a huge reason why the Hawks are 11-0-3. Up to this point, Crawford has a record of 7-0-1 to go along with a 1.65 goals-against average and a .935 save percentage in addition to posting a shutout along the way. If the Kings hope to win, peppering Crawford with shots just won’t suffice. Unlike the last meeting, the silver-and-black will need to generate a lot of traffic in front of the Chicago netminder to have any chance of winning. Despite being victorious last game, the Kings need a much better performance against the Blackhawks than they did against Columbus. For what it’s worth, though, the large bulk of Chicago’s success thus far has come away from the United Center. On the road, the Blackhawks are 8-0-2 while within the confines of their own home, they are 3-0-1, still impressive but not as tested. Hopefully, this can play in Los Angeles’ favor but we’ll see.
At 5-5-2, the Los Angeles Kings hope to move about .500 for the first time this season and a win against the Blackhawks will not only do that but it will surely skyrocket their confidence for the first time on this young campaign.
Enjoy the game!