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NHL on NBCSN: Best offense faces top defense in Hawks vs Kings

Dec 30, 2013, 8:51 AM EDT

Chicago Blackhawks' Brandon Saad, right, controls the puck against Los Angeles Kings' Jake Muzzin during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Chicago, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013. The Blackhawks won 3-1. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh) AP

NBCSN continues its coverage of the 2013-14 campaign tonight when the Chicago Blackhawks host the Los Angeles Kings at the United Center at 8:00 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game online.

Chicago and Los Angeles faced each other in the 2013 Western Conference finals and both seem poised to make serious runs for the Stanley Cup again this season.

They proved that they have what it takes after the Kings won it all in 2012 and the Blackhawks followed suit in 2013, but it’s not their past accomplishments that make these teams intimidating.

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Los Angeles is the hardest team in the league to score against, despite the fact that Jonathan Quick hasn’t played since Nov. 12 due to a groin injury. Rookie goalie Martin Jones has done a particularly great job in Quick’s absence with his 8-1-0 record, 1.31 GAA, and .953 save percentage in nine games. The team’s defense deserves a fair amount of credit too.

They’ll have to keep that up though, because while the Kings have the best defense in the league, the Blackhawks are leading the charge offensively. Forwards Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp have a combined 45 goals and 94 points in 41 contests this season, but Chicago has plenty of depth too as eight different players have recorded at least 20 points and six are already in double-digits in terms of goals.

Chicago also dominates with the man advantage and that might burn the Kings tonight as they’ve been one of the league’s least discipline teams this season.

Getting out of the gate running will also be important. Chicago is 16-0-2 this season when it’s leading through 20 minutes. That was the case in these squads’ first meeting on Dec. 15. The Blackhawks earned a 3-1 victory on the strength of a strong first period. At the same time, the Kings are nearly as impressive with their 13-1-2 record in games where they’re up going into the second frame.

Like the Kings, Chicago has been excelling despite the absence of their top goaltender. Corey Crawford (lower body) is progressing, but isn’t likely to be available tonight, so the Blackhawks will probably go with 24-year-old rookie Antti Raanta instead. He’s been solid, but is coming off of a rough 6-5 shootout loss to the St. Louis Blues.

After that setback, Raanta is one of the bigger X-Factors, but in a contest between two deep teams led by stars, there’s any number of players that could potentially take charge of this game and steal the show. Only time will tell if this match is a playoff preview, but it is at the least a contest between top tiered teams.

  1. esracerx46 - Dec 30, 2013 at 9:45 AM

    Hey Blomfeld, I hope you’re looking forward to this one. I know I am. Raanta had a bad game against St. Louis, but bounced right back after the Leafs put a thumping on the Hawks.

    • blomfeld - Dec 30, 2013 at 10:59 AM

      Eraser – thank you friend, as the importance of this game is ‘massive’ to put it mildly … we Kings have just lost two in a row, which for most teams probably isn’t such a big deal ? … yet when you’re ‘royalty’ it is … and there’s no better team out there for us to use as a ‘punching bag’ than the Blackhawks … after all, they’re the ones who derailed our enterprise last spring and they’re the ones who I predict we’ll have to ‘deal with’ again this coming spring in the WC final … personally, I’d love to see us Kings really run up the score on these people tonight and put that ‘punk’ Kane in his place ! … and we can do it, as compared to us their defense is downright ‘porous’ and we literally ‘dwarf’ them in terms of physicality and toughness … in addition, we also have the league’s ‘top’ goal tending and our offense includes many of the ‘best’ snipers in the business today (Carter, Kopitar, Williams, Richards, Brown, Doughty, etc) … so though I’m usually quite humble with my commentary here at PHT, tonight I’m going to go out on a limb and say …

      KINGS BY A TOUCHDOWN !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :)

      • endusersolutions2013 - Dec 30, 2013 at 9:11 PM

        Methinks you are looking at this thru rose-tinted spectacle (perhaps not sufficiently adjusting for a major astigmatism or some such perceptual malady).

        Seems to me that the Kings don’t score well, especially against the Hawks.

        I’m franking talking about your sniping comment.

        Hmmm, Hawks have 5 in the top 30 for points. Kings? ZERO. Little bit of reality checking (on-line equivalent of a poke-check;)

  2. steelers88 - Dec 30, 2013 at 10:37 AM

    Finally. NBCSN is showing a western conference game.

  3. jhuck92 - Dec 30, 2013 at 10:53 AM

    The unstoppable force vs. the immovable object. Let’s go ‘Hawks! Should be a great game!!

  4. jhaegs - Dec 30, 2013 at 11:15 AM

    Shutup blomfeld…

    • comeonnowguys - Dec 30, 2013 at 12:09 PM

      If that actually worked, five-dozen-or-so regular commenters just left keyboard-shaped imprints on their foreheads.

      • blomfeld - Dec 30, 2013 at 3:13 PM

        *** just this morning at a hardware store ***

        Jhag: hi asshole … listen, do you idiots sell tools here ?

        Blomfeld: kiss my ass … KAPOW !! .. KABOOM !! .. KAZAAM !!

  5. blackhawks1982 - Dec 30, 2013 at 1:11 PM

    Blomfield = functioning Crackhead!

  6. blackhawks1982 - Dec 30, 2013 at 1:12 PM

    Blomfeld = functioning Crackhead!!

    • blomfeld - Dec 30, 2013 at 2:22 PM

      Do you feel lucky … punk ?

  7. crispythirteen - Dec 30, 2013 at 3:06 PM

    Good game to watch before Flyers/Canucks at 10!

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