Previewing the Los Angeles Kings’ 2012-13 season:
Western Conference Final vs. Chicago Blackhawks
With both teams coming off full seven-game series, the Los Angeles Kings and Chicago Blackhawks clash for the Western Conference crown with little time to rest.
2013 will mark just the second the Kings and Blackhawks will meet in the playoffs with Chicago winning in five games way back in 1974 – when neither player from either team was born and even before both head coaches began their respective junior careers. So, with that said, no one should care about the last playoff meeting between these two clubs.
As for this season, the Kings and Hawks met three times with Chicago winning twice. In all fairness, the Kings’ lone win came in the most recent meeting between the two clubs on March 25.
After leading his team has past his former club in the San Jose Sharks last round, Los Angeles head coach Darryl Sutterwill try doing the same against the team he started his coaching career with – not to mention who he suited up for for his entire playing career.
This year’s version of the West Final features the two the most recent Stanley Cup winners from the Western Conference and should the Kings hope to make it back to the big dance for a second-straight year, they will need to cool off some of Chicago’s big guns.
In their head-to-head matchups this season, Chicago captain Jonathan Toews led the way with three goals and two assists while Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa each had a pair of goals and an assist against the silver-and-black. I’d be remiss, however, if I didn’t mention the impact of the man who beat out Drew Doughty as the NHL’s top defenseman in 2011. This season against Los Angeles, Duncan Keith chipped in significantly recording five assists in the three matchups this season.
While Jonathan Quick wasn’t his usual spectacular self against Chicago in 2013, his game has greatly improved since then as the reigning Conn Smythe winner, who is now in playoff form, will hope to continue his postseason dominance against the West’s top seed.
Unlike their meetings with the Sharks and even the Blues, there hasn’t been a rich history in terms of rivalry between the Kings and Hawks. If Los Angeles does need some extra incentive, however, it will be showing up a few former Kings, most notably Hawks forward Michal Handzus who spent five seasons with Los Angeles and Chicago’s assistant coach Jamie Kompon who was on the staff when the silver-and-black won the Stanley Cup last June.
Jarret Stoll, who has been sidelined with a concussion since getting hit in Game 1 of the West Semi Final against San Jose, continues to progress but his return date has still yet to be determined. Until then, the Kings will need to do with what they have which hopefully means snapping out of the lackluster 1-5 road record thus far in these playoffs as Games 1 and 2 begin at the United Center on Saturday and Sunday respectively. UNfortunately with Stoll’s absence, the Kings have been struggling in the faceoff department, an area where former King (and current Blackhawk) the aforementioned Handzus excels.
Both teams are rolling into the West Final with the same amount of momentum but when the puck drops on this series, something will have to give.
Enjoy the series!
Tags: 2013 Chicago Blackhawks Darryl Sutter Drew Doughty Duncan Keith Jamie Kompon Jonathan Quick Jonathan Toews Los Angeles Kings Marian Hossa Michal Handzus Patrick Kane Stanley Cup Playoffs Western Final