The Los Angeles Kings can begin their quest for revenge against the Chicago Blackhawks in Game One of the Western Conference Finals Sunday at United Center.
During the lockout shortened season a year ago, Chicago dismantled defending champion L.A. in five games, capped by Patrick Kane’s hat trick and winning goal in double overtime in the final game, en route to the Stanley Cup.
Though this doesn’t appear to be the same group of Kings. Powered by Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik, L.A. has climbed out of two series deficits this postseason. Most recently needing two straight wins to eliminate Anaheim in seven games, and in the first round they picked away at San Jose’s 3-0 series lead and won four straight to advance.
In their last win, the Kings crushed Anaheim 6-2 with Kopitar and Justin Williams each recording their fifth postseason goals and keeper Jonathan Quick stopping 25 of 27 shots faced.
Kopitar leads all players in the postseason with 19 points, including 14 assists, and Gaborik is tops with nine goals scored.
Quick hasn’t been nearly as dominate this postseason, notching only one shutout and a .914 save percentage. He’d also certainly like to forget the 14 goals he surrendered against Chicago last season.
With Quick not in top form, the Blackhawks can certainly use their five days of rest to their advantage.
Chicago eliminated Minnesota in six games in the conference semis, thanks to another overtime goal from Kane for a 2-1 Game Six win. Goalie Corey Crawford made 34 saves, and he’s tops in the playoffs with 1.97 goals allowed per game and a .931 save percentage and 8-4 record.
Right winger Marian Hossa has led the Blackhawks attack with 11 points, while Kane and left wing Bryan Bickell have six goals. Defenseman Brent Seabrook is tied with Hossa with nine assists.
Chicago will need a group effort to make up for the likely sixth straight game without center Andrew Shaw. Due to an undisclosed injury suffered in Game One against Minnesota, Shaw’s missed five consecutive games already but he’s expected to come back at some point against L.A.
Start Time: 3 p.m. EST
TV Channel: NBC
Live Stream Info: A live online stream is available at NBC Live Extra here.
Betting Odds: Chicago -1.5
Over/Under: 5 goals
Prediction: L.A. over Chicago 3-1