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Saturday, May 24, 2014
Blackhawks focusing on faceoffs in Game 3

By Scott Powers

LOS ANGELES -- The Chicago Blackhawks aren’t used to being dominated at the dot.

One of the areas Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville addressed with his team after its loss to the Los Angeles Kings in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals was faceoffs.

The Kings won the puck from the Blackhawks in Game 2 more than any opponent has done in the playoffs this season. The Kings won 43 of 70 faceoffs, giving the Blackhawks a 38.6 winning percentage. The Blackhawks had entered the game with a 51.1 winning percentage in the playoffs.

“We looked at it,” Quenneville said prior to Game 3 on Saturday. “We talked about it as a group, particularly the guys who take draws. We're facing one of the best teams in the league in that area. They all got experience. They all are very effective at it as well.

“Especially on the road, when we've got to go down first, the heightened awareness of just our centermen, the guys on the wall, helping out in that area. Trying to get it closer to 50-50 is what we're looking at.”

The Blackhawks kept the faceoff at exactly 50 percent in Game 1. The Blackhawks won 31 faceoffs, and the Kings won 31.

The difference in Game 2? Some of the Blackhawks who had success in the first game at the dot didn’t repeat it. Blackhawks center Michal Handzus won 12 of 20 faceoffs in Game 1 and was 4-of-16 in Game 2. Jonathan Toews was 11-of-18 in Game 1 and dropped to 11-of-25 in Game 2. Peter Regin struggled in both games and was a combined 4-of-22.

“That's something we need to focus on,” Toews said. “Clearly, we weren't good enough last game. We'll work at it tonight and make sure not only our centermen, but wingers are ready to jump in and be better in that area tonight.”

Kings forward Jarret Stoll has given the Blackhawks the most trouble. He’s won 24 of 35 faceoffs in the series. Anze Kopitar (24-of-41), Mike Richards (18-of-32) and Jeff Carter (6-of-20) also have taken faceoffs for the Kings.

The Blackhawks and Kings were two of the best teams at faceoffs in the regular season. The Kings were tied for second with a 52.8 winning percentage, and the Blackhawks were fifth at 52 percent.