In just a few hours the Los Angeles Kings and Chicago Blackhawks are set to face off in the 2013 Western Conference Final. Both teams are coming off their own exciting seven game series and likely enjoyed the few days between series where they were able to recharge their batteries.
Now, coming into this series many have questioned how the Kings would go about slowing down the Blackhawks’ offense. It is quite simple, keep playing their game.
The Kings are a big group of guys, a very big group of guys. Mike Richards is their smallest player listed at 5’11” and every other player is listed at 6′ 0″ or taller. You have Anze Kopitar, Jordan Nolan, Matt Greene, Robyn Regehr and Jake Muzzin coming in at 6′ 3″, Jeff Carter and Dwight King standing 6′ 4″ above the ice and Dustin Penner closing out the group at 6′ 5″.
The Kings use this to their advantage on a nightly basis.
The Blackhawks were involved in a physical series against the Detroit Red Wings but that will be nothing compared to this series with the Kings. There is no team as phyisically active as the Kings have been through these playoffs.
Through 13 games the Kings have registered a hit total of 536, that is ridiculous. The next closest team total has 62 less hits then the Kings. The Blackhawks come into the seires boasting a total of 299, talk about an advantage.
The Kings are a team that will go through an opponent rather than around them. The Blackhawks are quite the opposite, often using their speed to drive wide and get around the other team.
How do you counter speed and skill? Smart and physical play, both qualities the Kings have plenty of.
We all remember this hit from last year’s playoffs.
A hit that sent a message both mentally and physically, a hit that in most eyes changed the series. That hit hasn’t happened this year but there have been plenty of others.
If the Kings were paying any attention to the Blackhawks’ last series one major thing should stick out, the frustration shown by Blackhawks’ captain Jonathan Toews. Toews was tormented by the Red Wings, and it showed both in his game and body language. He took bad penalties, and was held off the score sheet in four games and goalless in six games.
The Kings need to take note and apply this to the entire Chicago roster. Any chance they get they should put a shoulder into Patrick Kane, give Marian Hossa a little stick check, anything to let them know they are there and take their mind off the game even for a split second.
With this style of play and as long as the physical play is smart, not taking themselves out of the play to make a hit, then the Kings should negate Chicago’s speed and skill, giving them the advantage.