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PHT Morning Skate: Rested Kings fight to even series vs. Blackhawks

May 21, 2014, 8:07 AM EDT

Los Angeles Kings' Anze Kopitar (11) reacts as he leaves the ice after his team's 3-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals in the NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoffs in Chicago on Sunday, May 18, 2014. The Blackhawks won 3-1. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh) AP

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.

  1. joey4id - May 21, 2014 at 8:17 AM

    There is no doubt the Kings benefited greatly from the 2 days off after game 1. Consider their itinerary after game 7 vs the Ducks, and their day to day activities after game 1. We will see a very different LA team. I expect the Kings to tie the series.

    • blomfeld - May 21, 2014 at 10:46 AM

      THANKS JOEY !!! :) :) :)

    • unitedramp - May 21, 2014 at 12:34 PM

      Expect? There’s a 1st time for everything but expecting might leave you disappointed

    • fpstratton - May 21, 2014 at 2:17 PM

      I hope you’re right, but I don’t think the Kings played poorly on Sunday. They just don’t match up that well against the Hawks, contrary to what was said in the article. In fact, the Kings can beat any team out West, but this team is a problem for them. Chicago is the mentally toughest team in the NHL, and the most disciplined. They take advantage of every inch of ice that you give them, they have several people who are very skilled, their back line has gotten more solid as the playoffs have progressed, and Corey Crawford is the unsung hero of this year’s playoffs. I think the Hawks repeat as champions.

      • joey4id - May 21, 2014 at 4:42 PM

        Kings didn’t play poorly. They were just half a step behind the Hawks on all the plays. You’re right about the Hawks on a lot points. I’m inclined to giving the Kings the edge on mental toughness only because of the comeback heroics they’ve already displayed in this year’s playoffs.

  2. tfilarski - May 21, 2014 at 8:22 AM

    Hopefully they don’t rush Shaw back. Hawks should be able to stay undefeated at home for these playoffs without 65. Would like to give him a few more days to get going and come out firing Saturday night on the road in LA.

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