May 31, 2013, 4:56 PM EDT
How important is home ice?
In this series? It’s massive. The Kings are a perfect 7-0 at Staples in the playoffs and, dating back to the regular season, are riding a 14-game winning streak at home.
(Fun fact: L.A. hasn’t lost at Staples since Mar. 28.)
Chicago’s been nearly as good — 6-1 at the United Center in the playoffs, 18-3-3 during the regular season — and hold the all-important home ice advantage by finishing first in the Western Conference.
The question will be: Can L.A. get a result on the road?
The Kings are just 1-5 away from Staples in the playoffs and their lone win came in overtime in the opening around against St. Louis.
Will L.A. shadow Jonathan Toews?
Detroit showed that a good way to slow down Chicago is by slowing down the captain.
Henrik Zetterberg drew the majority of that assignment in Round 2, holding Toews goalless through the first four games, in which Detroit built a 3-1 series lead. Frustrated, Toews finished that four-game stretch with more penalties (three) than points (one).
When Toews finally broke out, Chicago’s fortunes turned — he had three points over the final three games of the series, all wins.
Los Angeles has two options for the Toews shadow. One is Anze Kopitar, who teammates championed as a legit shut-down guy and potential Selke candidate; the other is Mike Richards, a Selke finalist from 2009.
(And yes, Toews himself is a Selke candidate this year.)
How can Chicago beat Jonathan Quick?
With traffic, according to Joel Quenneville.
“Traffic is something we talked about,” the ‘Hawks head coach said on Friday. “Pucks at the net, second opportunities are the ones you’re going to beat them with.”
Easier said than done, though.
Quick has been as good as he was during last year’s Conn Smythe-winning performance, posting a 1.50 GAA and .948 save percentage thus far.
“There’s certain situations where you go to do special things to beat him because he’s so effective in certain areas,” Quenneville admitted. “He’s had a special couple years in the playoffs. He’s a different kind of goalie the way he moves so quick in the crease, or even above it.”
Will Jarret Stoll return to the lineup?
If he gets back in, it’s a significant addition of the Kings. Stoll’s a playoff veteran (62 career games, two Stanley Cup finals) that’s one of the best third-line centers in the game.
He won draws at a 56 percent clip during the regular season and gives L.A. tremendous depth down the middle behind Kopitar and Richards — a big reason why Sutter has said his centers were “the strongest part of our team.”
Can the ‘Hawks keep killing penalties?
One of the less ballyhooed parts of Chicago’s run has been its penalty kill — just one goal allowed in 41 attempts, a league-best 97.6 percent PK.
(That’s actually five percentage points better than L.A.’s PK of last postseason, which they rode to the first-ever Stanley Cup in franchise history.)
Killing penalties will be important against a Kings power play that got hot in Round 2.
L.A. went 5-for-17 against San Jose — 29.4 percent — with almost everybody chipping in, as 12 different Kings recorded at least one power-play point in the series.
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