Mar 25, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Quick (32) makes a save against Chicago Blackhawks left wing Bryan Bickell (29) during the first period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

Western Conference Finals Preview: Los Angeles Kings vs Chicago Blackhawks

While the Eastern Conference pits two teams with high-octane offenses, the West is a case of the irresistible force meeting the immovable object.  One team wins by outscoring their opponent, while the other wins by keeping the puck out of their net.

Here is how they stack up:

 

OFFENSE

After Jeff Carter, the Kings do their scoring by committee.  Each night a different player needs to step up and be the source of secondary scoring.   The Kings have managed just 2 goals per game so far, 11th best among the 16 playoff teams, and by far the lowest among the final four teams.  Chicago, although not quite in the class of Pittsburgh and Boston, have managed to put up some decent offense. The breakthrough player has been Bryan Bickell, who coincidentally enough is set to become a UFA in July.

LOS ANGELES CHICAGO
Carter-Richards-Penner Sharp-Handzus-Kane
Brown-Kopitar-Williams Hossa-Toews-Saad
King-Lewis-Clifford Bickell-Shaw-Stalberg
Fraser- Richardson-Toffoli Kruger-Bolland-Frolik
Stoll-Pearson Bollig-Carcillo

 

LA’s forward depth hasn’t really come through offensively.  Five Kings’ forwards who have played 6 or more games haven’t score, and two others have just tallied once.

 

DEFENSE

The Kings have been really stingy and they have a solid, experience group to rely on, even without Willie Mitchell, a stalwart who missed the entire season.  Drew Doughty and Slava Voynov are the anchors, but Robyn Regehr has come in and combined with Matt Greene are shutdown specialists. The Blackhawks experimented with different combinations against Detroit, but eventually fell back to the big duo of Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook.

Here is how they could line up for game 1.

LOS ANGELES CHICAGO
Doughty-Regehr Keith – Seabrook
Scuderi-Voynov Roszival – Leddy
Muzzin-Greene Oduya – Hjarlmarsson

Both teams have very solid units that don’t give up many chances.  The overall edge might go to the Kings, but there really isn’t much to choose between them.

 

GOALTENDING

While Corey Crawford‘s 1.70 GAA and .938 SP is nothing to sneeze at, it has been Jonathan Quick who has been the story for the Kings, as he has carried his club through two rounds.  Definite edge leans towards the Kings.

 

SPECIAL TEAMS

Chicago’s penalty kill has been outstanding, allowing only 1 goal in 41 shorthanded situations.  Their power play hasn’t been quite as good, cashing in only 16.2% of their opportunities.  LA’s power play is slightly better and 20%, but their PK hasn’t been nearly as good as the Hawks.  Advantage Chicago.

 

COACHING

Darryl Sutter vs Joel Quenneville pits two grizzled veterans who have been around the block before.  There isn’t much to choose here, so call it a draw.

 

SENSHOT SAYS

JARED:  This series has 7 written all over it.  However, all the Kings need to do is take one in Chicago and it is probably over in 6.  They are that good at home.  So, here is betting that they get it done.  Kings in 6.

 

PHIL: If the Kings can manage to eliminate the Hawks and advance they would have faced some tough competition in the Blues, Sharks and Hawks. Those are some good teams. The Hawks had a slightly easier road but still had to fight back against the Wings. This series will see toughness and defense face a skilled offense. They always say defense wins you championships, but I find it hard to believe that the Kings will be able to hold back the offense of the the Hawks. LA holds a slight edge in goaltending with Jonathan Quick and he may be the series changer. I usually don’t pick the Kings to win and I don’t know why I’ve always been wrong (guess you could say I have something against them) and I will continue to go with the other team. If I am wrong once again I promise I will pick them to win it all!  Hawks in 7 

 

JAMIE:  Chicago has a lot of talent on Offense but the Red Wings series exposed a wound they would have preferred to keep closed. The Hawks are easily frustrated. When you’re playing against the LA Kings, that is not a good thing. This series is going to 7 but LA will grind it out and bring down the frustrated Blackhawks.  LA in 7


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