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NHL on NBCSN: Kings face tough test in Chicago

Mar 25, 2013, 8:03 AM EDT

CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 17: Niklas Hjalmarsson #4 of the Chicago Blackhawks and Dustin Brown #23 of the Los Angeles Kings fight for the puck during the NHL game on February 17, 2013 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images) Getty Images

NBCSN’s ongoing coverage of the 2013 campaign will continue tonight when the Chicago Blackhawks host the Los Angeles Kings at the United Center at 8:00 p.m. ET.

The Los Angeles Kings know better than any team in the league that as long as you make the playoffs, anything can happen. However, with roughly two-thirds of their season in the books, they still have a lot of work to do if they want to secure a postseason berth.

The Kings haven’t scored a goal in their last 126:14 minutes of playing time and that’s the setup for their upcoming five-game road trip that kicks off tonight in Chicago.

Los Angeles, like most teams, has been unable to beat the 24-3-3 Blackhawks this season. The fact that the Kings facing them in Chicago, where the Blackhawks have only suffered one regulation loss in 2013, just adds to the daunting task ahead of them.

After being shutout of back-to-back contests, it’s clear that the Kings as a team need to step up their game, but the heat has to be on Jeff Carter in particular. That might seem unfair, but when he’s hot, he’s been the difference for the Kings this season. They are 13-1-1 when he finds the back of the net and 4-11-1 when the opposition silences him.

Unfortunately for Los Angeles, the 28-year-old forward has gone cold lately with just two points in his last eight games and he didn’t even manage a single shot on goal on Saturday.

For Chicago, this game is principally about not allowing themselves to relax or lose confidence as they enter a dangerous part of the season. The Blackhawks don’t really have much left to play for until the playoffs, except the bragging rights that come with finishing the season with the top record in the NHL.

Even if Chicago plays mediocre hockey for the rest of the campaign, they’ll still probably end up with at least the second seed, but letting up now could bleed into the first round, so they need to find ways to stay motivated. They might not need this win in the same way that the Kings do, but they definitely want it and aren’t about to roll over and let the Kings take these two points without a fight.

Probable goaltenders: CHI – Corey Crawford (13-3-3, 1.86 GAA, .926 SV%) | LAK – Jonathan Quick (10-10-2, 2.47 GAA, .897 SV%)

Top scorers: CHI – Patrick Kane (16-22-38, 30 GP) | LAK – Anze Kopitar (9-19-28, 30 GP)

Notable Injuries:
Chicago – Forwards: Marian Hossa (upper body), Patrick Sharp (shoulder)
Los Angeles – Defensemen: Willie Mitchell (knee), Matt Greene (back)

  1. comeonnowguys - Mar 25, 2013 at 10:47 AM

    The Blackhawks have tremendous incentive to not let up. Four games on that Anaheim ice would be miserable.

  2. blomfeld - Mar 25, 2013 at 12:18 PM

    *** the following is intended for fans of the reigning Stanley Cup Champions only ***

    TIME TO GET SERIOUS !

    After reaching the midway point of our season on the upswing at 14-8-2, we Kings have since been alarmingly “lackluster” going 3-4 thus far during the second half. That has to change “now” and there’s no better place to do that than against the Hawks tonight, right there in their own barn! The truth is that our entire team from “back to front” needs to play better, though especially our offense, which for some reason continues with it’s fickle ways? The bottom line is that we can’t afford to use last year as a template by “sneaking in” again as a 7th or 8th seed. The WC is simply too strong this year to allow for a repeat of last year’s magic. Rather, we Kings need to be “ferociously” storming into this year’s playoffs, like Navy Seal Team 6 kicking in the rotten door to some miserable gangster hideout!

    Now I’ve nothing against the Blackhawks personally and I commend them for their excellent play this year. But that’s beside the point. We Kings need to beat these people and we need to beat them “badly”! As you know friends, last year we took on the NHL’s very “best” teams and we made the “lot of them” them look silly by destroying them in detail. Well now’s the time for us to start doing that again and that begins tonight in Chicago!

    Blomfeld’s prediction: Kings by a touchdown ! :)

    GO KINGS GO !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. barroomhero80 - Mar 25, 2013 at 2:38 PM

    GKG

  4. dt58 - Mar 25, 2013 at 6:19 PM

    Got to crawl before you walk…worry about scoring a goal before worrying about winning the game

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