NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs Western Conference Finals Preview: #1 Chicago Blackhawks vs #5 Los Angeles Kings

2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs – Western Conference Finals
#1 Chicago Blackhawks vs #5 Los Angeles Kings
Best of Seven Series Format: 2-2-1-1-1
Series Price (Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker) Blackhawks -155 / Kings +135
Game #1, Saturday, June 1, 2013, 5:05 pm Eastern, TV: NBC Sports Network
United Center – Chicago, Illinois
Opening Line: Chicago -150 / Los Angeles +130
Current Line: Chicago -165 / Los Angeles +145
Opening Total: under 5 -110 / over 5 -110
Current Total: under 5 -145 / over 5 +125

The Chicago Blackhawks will take on the LA Kings in the Western Conference Finals which start Sunday in Chicago.
The Chicago Blackhawks will take on the LA Kings in the Western Conference Finals which start Sunday in Chicago.

The 2013 NHL season was shortened to 48 games by a lockout. The season flew by and some teams that hadn’t made the playoffs in a long time made the tournament like the New York Islanders, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Minnesota Wild. None of those upstart teams made it past the first round though. Now as we are down to the Conference Finals round, the four teams that are left are ironically the last 4 teams that have won the Stanley Cup. In the Eastern Conference the Pittsburgh Penguins will take on the Boston Bruins. In the Western Conference, the #1 seeded Chicago Blackhawks will take on the defending Stanley Cup champion #5 seeded Los Angeles Kings.

Chicago had the best record in hockey with 77 points. Los Angeles came in second in the Pacific Division with 59 points to the Anaheim Ducks who had 66 points. The Kings were seeded #5 in the Western Conference. The #1 seeded Blackhawks dispatched the #8 seeded Minnesota Wild in 5 games. Chicago then faced the #7 seeded Detroit Red Wings in the second round. The Red Wings took a 3-1 series lead, but the Blackhawks would win the next three games to win in seven. Chicago would win game 7 in overtime 2-1 after the apparent go-ahead goal was disallowed with less than 2 minutes left in overtime. The referee blew the whistle to call a penalty on both teams just seconds before the puck went in the net. Chicago won the Cup in 2010 but were eliminated in the first round the last two season.

Los Angeles lost the first two games of the series to the #4 seeded St. Louis Blues on the road in the first round. However, the Kings would win 4 straight games to advance to the second round against the #6 San Jose Sharks. The home team would win every game in the series. The Kings grabbed a 2-0 lead in game seven and held on for the 2-1 win.

Chicago won two of the three meetings between the teams this season. The Blackhawks won in LA to open the regular season January 19 5-2. Chicago won at home 3-2 February 17. The Kings won in Chicago 5-4 March 25.

Chicago is coached by Joel Quenneville. In the playoffs the Blackhawks are scoring 2.75 goals per game and allowing 1.83. Chicago is averaging 34 shots per game and is allowing 28 per game. Chicago has struggled on the power play in the playoffs converting only 6 out of 37 chances. Chicago has only allowed one power play goal in 41 times shorthanded. The Blackhawks have one shorthanded goal in the playoffs. Chicago has won 47.6% of their face-offs. Chicago is averaging 10 penalty minutes per game.

Chicago goalie Corey Crawford is 8-4 in the playoffs with a 1.70 goals against average. He has a save percentage of .938 and has one shutout. He has allowed 21 goals with 337 shots faced.

Center Patrick Sharp has 7 goals and 4 assists. Right wing Marian Hossa has 5 goals and 6 assists. Defenseman Duncan Keith leads the Blackhawks in assists with 8, and also has a goal. Right wing Patrick Kane has 2 goals and 7 assists. Centers Jonathan Toews, Michal Handzus, & Andrew Shaw and left wing Bryan Bickell each have 6 points. Center Michael Frolik has 3 goals and 2 assists. Defenseman Steve Montador is out for the season with a concussion but he hasn’t played since early March.

Los Angeles is coached by Darryl Sutter. The Kings are scoring 2 goals a game in the playoffs but allowing only 1.54 per game. LA is averaging 25 shots per game and allowing 29. The Kings are 7 for 35 on the power play, and have allowed one short handed goal in the playoffs. LA has allowed 6 power play goals on 43 times shorthanded. The Kings are 45.7% on faceoffs. Los Angeles averages 8.3 penalty minutes per game.

Kings goalie Jonathan Quick won the Conn Smythe award last season for playoffs MVP. He could repeat if the Kings keep advancing. Quick is 8-5 in the postseason with a 1.50 goals against average. Quick has a save percentage of .948 and has 3 shutouts in the postseason. Quick has allowed 20 goals in 382 shots faced.

Center Mike Richards has 8 assists and 2 goals. Center Jeff Carter has 5 goals and 3 assists. Center Anze Kopitar has 2 goals and 5 assists. Defenseman Slava Voynov has 4 goals and 3 assists. Right wing Justin Williams has 4 goals and 2 assists. He scored both goals in the game 7 win against the Sharks. Defenseman Drew Doughty has 2 goals and 3 assists. Right wing Dustin Brown has 3 goals and an assist. Center Jarrett Stoll suffered a concussion in game one against the Sharks and is questionable for game one against Chicago. Defenseman Willie Mitchell is out for the season with a knee injury.

Don’t expect a lot of goals in this series. Crawford and Quick are the only two goalies in the playoffs giving up less than 2 goals per game. Chicago can score more, but they struggled for most of the series against the Red Wings. I think you will see a lot of 1-0 or 2-1 scores in this series. If the Kings can steal one of the first two games in Chicago then they have an excellent shot of pulling off the mild upset. LA has won 13 straight game at home dating to the regular season. I think the Blackhawks win a grueling series that goes the full seven.

Our expert NHL picks will help you crush the books until they hand out the Cup later this month. Don’t miss out on any more winners.


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