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.