Los Angeles Kings' Anze Kopitar (11) reacts as he leaves the ice after his team's 3-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals in the NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoffs in Chicago on Sunday, May 18, 2014. The Blackhawks won 3-1. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

PHT Morning Skate: Rested Kings fight to even series vs. Blackhawks


Game 2: Los Angeles Kings vs. Chicago Blackhawks [Blackhawks lead series 1-0] (8:00 p.m. ET — NBCSN)

In the battle between two of the best franchises in recent years, Chicago cleanly took Game 1 despite Jonathan Toews’ goal being disallowed at a critical point in the game.

After the 3-1 loss, Kings coach Darryl Sutter didn’t want to blame fatigue for his team’s slow start, despite the fact that Los Angeles was coming off its second straight seven-game series.

If they were tired during Sunday’s contest though, that shouldn’t be the case now that they’ve had full two days to rest. Still, defeating the Blackhawks isn’t an easy task for any team, even one as gifted as Los Angeles.

Chicago beat them in five contests during 2013 Western Conference Final — the Kings’ first and only elimination under Sutter — and Chicago has taken eight of the last nine meetings.

“Obviously we didn’t have a great record against Anaheim during the regular season (either),” Kings forward Justin Williams said, per LA Kings Insider. “We were able to beat them (in the second round). But Chicago just comes with its own problems.

“Their defense are extremely fast and active and do a great job getting the puck up the ice. If we’re just a little off every game, we’re not going to be good because they’ll expose that.”

The Blackhawks have far more than just a good defense. They also feature some of the NHL’s best forwards, including captain Toews, who Sutter recently called the best two-way forward in the game. They have plenty of offensive depth too, especially if forward Andrew Shaw is ready to return from an injury after practicing yesterday.

“I feel like I’m ready to play but that’s not my decision to make,” Shaw told CSN Chicago.

One of the few teams that can match up to Chicago on paper though is the Kings. Like Chicago, Los Angeles features a great defense, skilled forwards, and clutch performers. The Kings aren’t a team that’s intimated by a deficit, but the Blackhawks in turn don’t get ahead of themselves when they gain the upper hand.

This series is just getting started.

Flames acquire Freddie Hamilton, brother of Dougie

Freddie Hamilton
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Roughly three months after acquiring Dougie Hamilton, the Calgary Flames have brought his brother on board too.

Freddie Hamilton was pried away from the Colorado Avalanche for the cost a 2016 conditional seventh-round draft pick, per the Avalanche’s website. The Flames announced that he will report to AHL Stockton.

Freddie, who is the older of the two at 23, is a center that excelled offensively in the OHL and has chipped in at the AHL level. However, he has just one point in 29 contests with Colorado and the San Jose Sharks.

This is obviously not a big trade, but perhaps Freddie will eventually become a solid member of the Flames’ supporting cast. If nothing else, it didn’t cost Calgary much to reunite the brothers. The duo previously played together with the Niagara IceDogs.

Fabbri primed to make Blues in significant role

Jason Demers, Robby Fabbri
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With the start of the regular season just around the corner, it looks like Robby Fabbri will not only make his NHL debut on Thursday, but also get meaningful minutes.

During Sunday’s practice the 19-year-old forward played alongside Jori Lehtera and Jaden Schwartz. Nothing is set in stone, but that combination did gel.

“I think we want to look at what the combinations look like now rather than do it at the start of the season,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “We’re looking at a hard match line and we’re also looking at taking advantage of speed and skill off the rush.

“I really liked what I saw today. I really liked Lehtera’s line, they looked very dynamic off the rush.”

The top line of Alexander Steen, Paul Stastny, and Vladimir Tarasenko seems like a good bet to play together for the time being. Jori Lehtera and Jaden Schwartz will stick together on the second line while Dmitrij Jaskin and David Backes can expect to be regular partners on the third unit. The X-factors will be Fabbri and Troy Brouwer as Hitchcock has left the door open to alternating between the two of them on the second and third line depending on the opponent.

Fabbri was taken with the 21st overall pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft and is looking to make the leap after a brief stint in the AHL last season. At the OHL level, he’s been a dominate force with the Guelph Storm, scoring 25 goals and 51 points in 30 games in 2014-15.