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Sunday, May 18, 2014
W2W4: Blackhawks vs. Kings (Game 1)

By Scott Powers

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings face off in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals at the United Center on Sunday. Here's what to watch for:

  • The Blackhawks and Kings meet in the Western Conference finals for the second consecutive season. The Blackhawks eliminated the Kings in five games last season. The Kings have been to three consecutive Western Conference finals, and the Blackhawks have been to four in the last six seasons.

  • The Blackhawks are perfect at home in the playoffs, and the Kings have excelled on the road. The Blackhawks are 6-0 at home, and the Kings are 5-3 on the road. Both enter the series with two-game winning streaks.

  • Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw will miss a sixth consecutive game due to a lower-body injury. The Kings could return defenseman Willie Mitchell on Sunday, but they will likely continue to be without defenseman Robyn Regehr due to an injury.

  • Kings forward Anze Kopitar leads the NHL with 19 playoff points, which includes five goals and 14 assists, and Kings forward Marian Gaborik leads the NHL with nine playoff goals. The Blackhawks are led by Brent Seabrook and Marian Hossa with 11 points each and by Patrick Kane and Bryan Bickell with six goals apiece. Kane and Bickell combined for seven goals against the Kings in the playoffs last season.

  • Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford leads the NHL with a 1.97 goals-against average and .931 save percentage in the playoffs. Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick has been streaky in the playoffs with a 2.72 goals-against average and .914 save percentage, but he has stepped up in big games.

  • Both teams have had similar results on the power play in the playoffs. The Kings have a 22.9 power-play percentage, and the Blackhawks are at 18.2 percent. The Blackhawks have had the best penalty kill in the playoffs. They have killed off 42 of 46 power plays for a 91.3 percentage. The Kings have a 83.9 penalty-kill percentage.

  • The Blackhawks’ lines are likely going to be Bickell-Jonathan Toews-Hossa, Patrick Sharp-Michal Handzus-Kane, Brandon Saad-Peter Regin-Kris Versteeg, Brandon Bollig-Marcus Kruger-Ben Smith. Their defensive pairings will likely be Seabrook-Duncan Keith, Niklas Hjalmarsson-Johnny Oduya and Nick Leddy-Michal Rozsival.

  • The Kings’ lines are likely going to be Gaborik-Kopitar-Dustin Brown, Tanner Pearson-Jeff Carter-Tyler Toffoli, Trevor Lewis-Jarret Stoll-Justin Williams and Dwight King-Mike Richards-Kyle Clifford. The defensive pairings will likely be Jake Muzzin-Drew Doughty, Jeff Schultz-Slava Voynov and Alex Martinez-Matt Greene.