NHL on NBC: Kings to raise banner, take on ‘Hawks

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The Kings will celebrate their Stanley Cup championship on Saturday with a banner raising and ring ceremony.

Then they’ll get onto the business of battling the 2010 Cup champs.

That’ll be the scene as Los Angeles hosts the Chicago Blackhawks (3 p.m. ET, NBC) at Staples to open up the 2013 NHL regular season.

While the focus will largely be on the Kings — the reigning champs enter the season with targets on their back — there’ll be some focus on the Blackhawks as well.

Chicago isn’t far removed from being king of the hill, and dealing with the pressure that comes from it. Since winning the Cup two years ago, the ‘Hawks have struggled to achieve similar success and have been eliminated in the first round of consecutive postseasons.

Backup netminder Ray Emery said the opener against Los Angeles and the condensed 48 game schedule will give the ‘Hawks a new opportunity to remind people they’re a Cup contender.

“We get to wipe the slate clean,” he explained. “We know that we have tons of talent. We’ve got role players and depth. It’s exciting to correct some mistakes and move forward.”

Los Angeles is looking to wipe the slate clean too, albeit in a different manner.

The Kings want to carry over postseason momentum — they only lost four games en route to the Cup — and return almost their entire roster from last season.

But they also recognize a new season means new beginnings, and they can’t rest on past laurels.

“We’re the defending champs,” Anze Kopitar told the Los Angeles Times. “Everyone is going to try to beat us. I don’t think that changes anything in here. It’s going out there and leaving the past behind you.…You’ve got to turn the page now and write a new script for it.

“It’s going to be a short season and you can’t afford to make any mistakes.”

Tale of the Tape

Los Angeles Kings (2011-12) Chicago Blackhawks (2011-12)
Record: 40-27-15, 95 PTS (3rd in Pacific, 8th in Western Conference) Record: 45-26-11, 101 PTS (4th in Central, 6th in Western Conference)
Leading Scorer: Anze Kopitar (25G-51A-76PTS) Leading Scorer: Marian Hossa (29G-48A-77PTS)
Goalie: Jonathan Quick (35-21-13, 1.95 GAA) Goalie: Corey Crawford (20-17-7, 2.72 GAA)


Notes

Kopitar will miss Saturday’s game with a knee sprain. (LA Times)

— Willie Mitchell will also be out with a knee injury (ESPN)

— Jonathan Toews didn’t practice on Friday. (NHL.com)