Los Angeles Hockey: Chicago Blackhawks

Kings fall to red-hot Blackhawks

February, 17, 2013

CHICAGO -- Brent Seabrook and Jonathan Toews each had a goal and an assist to help the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Los Angeles Kings 3-2 on Sunday, extending their season-opening points streak to 15 games.

For the full story, click this link.

Kings: Jonathan Quick good as gold in 3-2 shootout win

March, 11, 2012
Kings 3, Chicago Blackhawks 2 (SO)

Eight keys to the game:

THE FACTS: With his team in need of a victory after two frustrating road losses, Jonathan Quick saved 35 shots in regulation, including a penalty shot, then kept all six shootout attempts out of the net, lifting the Kings to the win Sunday night at United Center in Chicago.

THE STAT: Quick came into the game with two consecutive shutouts against the Blackhawks and blanked them halfway through the game before Marcus Kruger scored with 7:23 remaining in the second period, ending his shutout streak at 174 minutes 29 seconds.

TURNING POINT: After failed shootout attempts by Justin Williams, Jeff Carter, Dustin Brown, Jarret Stoll and Anze Kopitar, the Kings finally put one past Ray Emery when Mike Richards slowed up between the circles and beat him glove side for his second shootout goal in six opportunities this season. Kruger then lost the puck as he drove toward Quick, ending the shootout and the game.

HOT: Brown extended his points streak to eight games with an assist on Slava Voynov’s first-period goal, and Carter scored his fourth goal in his eighth game with the Kings for a 2-1 lead. Stoll was 12-6 in the faceoff circle, helping the Kings to a 42-30 advantage on the draw.

NOT: The Kings blew two more one-goal leads against Chicago. In the last four games, they’ve let eight one-goal leads slip away.

GOOD MOVE: Carter’s goal was the result of some strong work on the forecheck by Richards and rookie winger Dwight King. They combined to force a turnover behind the net and King then made a nice pass to Carter in the slot. He fired the puck through the pads of Emery for the 200th goal of his career.

BAD MOVE: Kings defenseman Drew Doughty was the object of much criticism during the second intermission by the studio analysts for NBC Sports Network, who claimed the fourth-year blue liner wasn't coming close to justifying his $7 million salary cap hit this season. Doughty, coming off a minus-3 effort in the 4-3 loss Friday in Detroit, was on the ice for both of Chicago’s goals, as well as the breakaway penalty by defensive partner Rob Scuderi, which led to the failed shootout attempt.

NOTABLE: With the victory, the Kings leapfrogged San Jose and Colorado and moved into ninth place in the Western Conference standings. They have the same number of points as eighth-place Calgary but lose the tiebreaker because of fewer regulation victories ... L.A. plays five of its next six games at Staples Center and the other in Anaheim. The Kings were on the road for 14 of their last 18 games … Quick improved to 5-7 in shootouts this season after finishing 10-0 a year ago … The Kings killed two more power play, extending their streak of successful kills to 28. On the second power play, defenseman Willie Mitchell broke his stick and had to borrow one from Stoll, who went the next 40 seconds on the penalty kill without a stick.

UP NEXT: Tuesday vs. Detroit at Staples Center, 7:30 p.m.

Kings: Trying to pick up the pieces in Chicago

March, 11, 2012
Kings (31-25 -12, 74 points) vs. Chicago Blackhawks (37-25-7, 81 points) at United Center, 5 p.m. PT

Five storylines to track:

1. Hope fading fast – The season and all its fluffy expectations would seem to be at a tipping point. The Kings are coming off two of their most frustrating losses in a most-frustrating season. Stomach punch No. 1 was a 3-1 loss Thursday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets, holders of the worst record in the NHL, followed immediately by uppercut No. 2, a 4-3 loss Friday night in Detroit, when they were five minutes away from a regulation victory. The Kings are now two points back of eighth-place Colorado in the Western Conference standings and it appears the Avs aren't coming back any time soon.

2. Prime example – Look no further than the Blackhawks for a prime example of just how quickly things can turn around for a slumping team. They went winless in nine straight games from Jan. 21 to Feb. 14, and were on the cusp of dropping out of the top eight in the Western Conference standings. The Blackhawks righted themselves just in time, however, and have since won eight of their last 12 to firmly reestablish themselves among the legitimate playoff contenders.

3. Invisible Mike – The honeymoon phase is long over for center Mike Richards. When he came to L.A. in a trade last summer with the Philadelphia Flyers, it seemed the Kings finally brought in someone who could lift them beyond the first round of the playoffs. Richards cemented those thoughts by totaling 11 goals and nine assists before the end of November. Everything went downhill after he missed eight games in December because of a concussion, leaving him a fraction of the offensive producer. Hard to imagine, but he has not scored a goal in the last 23 games and has one in 2012.

4. Quick slowing? – The good news is the Kings blanked Chicago in their last two meetings, both shutouts by goalie Jonathan Quick. And now the bad news. Quick is going through his worst stretch of the season and it's a troubling trend. For the first time this season, he has allowed four goals or more in back-to-back starts. His 2.60 goals-against average in the month of March is considerably higher than his 2.33 career average.

5. Toews still down – It looks like the Blackhawks will have to go another game without the services of high-scoring center Jonathan Toews, who scored 57 points in the first 59 games but has been out with concussion symptoms since Feb. 19. The team captain returned to practice Thursday but is still waiting to be cleared for contact. Chicago has been filling the gap with steady performances from its other stars. Marian Hossa has seven points in the last six games, Patrick Sharp has six in the last four and Patrick Kane has six in the last six.

Ducks: Second-half run continues with 3-1 win vs. Blackhawks

February, 26, 2012

ANAHEIM—The Ducks were coming off an immensely successful eight-game road trip, one in which they posted a 5-1-2 record. Yet, when the puck dropped Sunday afternoon against the visiting Chicago Blackhawks, they were still eight points back of the final playoff spot, the same margin as when the departed 18 days earlier.

A brick wall on the momentum highway?

Not a chance.

After a slow start, the Ducks proceeded to dominate the Blackhawks over the final 41 minutes, scoring a 3-1 victory in front of 17,601, the largest crowd to watch a regular-season game at Honda Center.

The victory moved the Ducks back within six points of the eighth-place Dallas Stars, who scored in the final minute earlier Sunday to tie the score against the Vancouver Canucks and then won in overtime.

“We didn’t get much help, but you know what?” said Teemu Selanne, who scored the third goal for the Ducks to move into 20th all time in NHL scoring. “Don’t worry about that. Just worry about the things we can control. Everything is in our own hands.”

It was just two months ago that the 41-year-old Selanne was rumored to be on the trading block. On the eve of the NHL trade deadline, it appears general manager Bob Murray has no choice but to keep his core group together and see what other magic they can pull out of their hats. Twenty points back of the final playoff spot on Jan. 5, the Ducks are officially in the Western Conference race.

“Within our group, it was a far goal for us but we set some short-term goals and we’ve reached a lot of them,” said team captain Ryan Getzlaf. “That’s what we have to continue doing. We haven’t accomplished anything yet. We’re just in the hunt, that’s the only thing we’ve done.”

Since the calendar turned to 2012, the Ducks have earned more points (38) than any other NHL team and have the best goal differential (+23).

“It’s a completely different team in this locker room right now,” said winger Bobby Ryan. “I don’t think there’s any defining moment that changed things around. We started to get some bounces and, when that happened, you start to get a little confidence and things tighten up defensively for you.”

A big reason for the turnaround has been the play of goalie Jonas Hiller. He was sharp again Sunday, stopping 18 shots in his 21st consecutive start to improve to 15-3-4 in his last 23 games.

“Jonas has come on and become the best goalie in the league over this stretch,” Ryan said. “If we hadn’t given away November and December, we’d be in a great position right now. We dug our own hole so we’re trying to climb out of it.”

Even if it’s one point at a time.

Kings: This trick couldn't have come at a better time

February, 25, 2012

LOS ANGELES -- The built-in storyline coming into Saturday night’s game against the visiting Chicago Blackhawks was the debut of Kings forward Jeff Carter.

Turns out another right wing, the one who wasn’t traded away this week, stole the show.

Dustin Brown scored his third career hat trick and matched his career-high with four points, leading the Kings over the Blackhawks, 4-0, in front of a joyous sold-out crowd that witnessed its first victory at Staples Center since Feb. 1.

“Things went well for me tonight and I hope to build on it,” Brown said. “We’ve been struggling as a team, and I’ve been struggling personally to score goals, and it definitely felt good to score some goals tonight.”

In his fourth season as team captain, Brown became the object of wide-spread trade rumors Thursday night, the same evening the Kings traded defenseman Jack Johnson to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Carter.

He was stuck in the unenviable position of attending practice the following morning and then taking questions from a larger-than-normal gathering of media. Brown sat back and answered every one, most probing his knowledge and reaction to the trade rumors.

“I’ve been a King my whole career and I expect to be a King beyond the next few days,” he said. “For me, personally, I probably said this [Friday], with all the rumors flying around, it’s my responsibility to prepare myself to be the best I can. Tonight I felt good.”

(Read full post)

Kings: Quick's shutout ends skid vs. Blackhawks

December, 28, 2011
Jonathan QuickJonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesJonathan Quick posted his league-leading fifth shutout of the season in the Kings' victory at Chicago.
Kings 2, Chicago Blackhawks 0

Eight keys to the game:

THE FACTS: Kings goalie Jonathan Quick recorded his league-leading fifth shutout of the season and L.A. ended a six-game losing streak against the Blackhawks, winning for the first time in regulation at United Center since March 23, 2007.

THE STAT: The Blackhawks came into the game with the best record in the NHL and leading the league in goals scored, but they were shut out for the fourth time this season.

TURNING POINT: Seconds after killing their third penalty of the game, a scramble ensued in front of the Chicago net with the Kings’ fourth line on the ice. Colin Fraser kept the puck alive with a sweep of his stick while falling to the ice, Kyle Clifford flicked the puck out of the grasp of Chicago goalie Corey Crawford as he was trying to cover and Trent Hunter swept in and flicked the puck high into the net for a 1-0 lead with 7:53 remaining in the second period. The fourth liners played well throughout, even earning regular ice time in the third period. Fraser, Clifford and Hunter finished with some of their highest ice-time totals of the season.

HOT: Kings defenseman Drew Doughty assisted on the second goal, his fifth straight game with at least one assist, tying his career-high point streak. Doughty took a shot that was blocked back to him. He shot at the net again and the puck was deflected to the side, where Justin Williams took a whack. The rebound came out again and Jarret Stoll was there to poke it back in for a 2-0 lead 1:16 into the third period. Williams started the scoring play by winning a puck battle behind the net against Chicago defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson.

(Read full post)

Kings: Turning a new leaf in the Windy City

December, 28, 2011

Kings (17-14-5, 39 points) vs. Chicago Blackhawks (23-9-4, 50 points) at United Center, 5:30 p.m. PT

Five storylines to track:

1. Starting anew – For coach Darryl Sutter, scoring more than two goals Monday night wasn’t as important as getting the two points. Accomplishing both in the 4-3 victory against the visiting Phoenix Coyotes was just a cool breeze to compliment a sunny day. The victory ended a well-documented streak of 14 consecutive games without scoring at least three goals, a franchise record in the futility department. Sutter seems to be turning things around in a hurry. Since he was hired last week, the Kings have earned five of the available six points and finally put to rest one particularly embarrassing streak.

2. No Gagne – The news isn’t getting any better for Kings left wing Simon Gagne. Sources confirmed to ESPN that he indeed suffered a concussion against the Coyotes. He has been placed on injured reserve. Gagne has a well-documented history of head injuries. Coupled with the new NHL guidelines involving evaluation and treatment of concussions, Gagne could be out a while. Gagne, a two-time 40-goal scorer, scored seven goals in the first 17 games this season, but none in the last 17. If the Kings were testing the waters for potential trade partners before, they might be doing some full-scale fishing now.

(Read full post)

Kings: Latest loss continues a trend

November, 26, 2011

LOS ANGELES—If the Kings are to make the climb from playoff team to Stanley Cup contender, they’ll need to figure out a way to beat those already at that level.

So far this season, they’re still getting schooled.

The Kings lost their seventh straight game against the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday night and 10th in the last 11 meetings, 2-1, in front of another impatient, sold-out crowd at Staples Center

The Blackhawks were primed for a loss, having played the afternoon before in Anaheim, where they used considerable energy to rally back from a two-goal deficit in the third period and win, 6-5. They’d allowed 20 goals in the previous four games.

But the Kings could manage just one against the 2010 Stanley Cup Champions, losing for the first time in regulation this season when allowing two goals or less.

“Any time in this league, if you can keep a team to two goals or less, you’ve got to like your chances for a point and hopefully a win,” said Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi. “It wasn’t the case tonight;”

It’s not just the Blackhawks the Kings can’t seem to solve.

They’re a combined 0-4 this season against Western Conference powerhouses Chicago, Vancouver, Detroit and San Jose. Counting the playoffs, they were a combined 10-14-0 against those teams last season.

These same four teams combined to fill out the Western Conference finals the last three seasons.

Following the latest loss, the Kings are staring up at all three in the West after 23 games, which is more than a quarter way through the regular season.

“That’s where we have to start to believe we’re as good as those guys, or better than those guys,” Kings coach Terry Murray said. “Our mindset is maybe off a little bit against those teams, and that’s the part we have to get back on track.”

The Kings will get another chance when San Jose pays a visit to Staples Center on Monday night.

“You definitely want to match up with Detroit and Vancouver and San Jose and Chicago and all the playoff teams that have had good runs lately,” said Kings center Anze Kopitar. “We’re going to have to figure it out and take that next step.”

In the meantime, they’ll continue staring up at the real contenders.
Dave Joseph of 710 ESPN Radio discusses the 2-1 loss by the Kings against the visiting Blackhawks on Saturday night, their seventh straight loss against Chicago.

Kings: A new chapter for visiting Blackhawks

November, 25, 2011
Kings (11-7-4, 26 points) vs. Chicago Blackhawks (13-7-3, 29 points) at Staples Center, 7:30 p.m.

Five storylines to track:

1. Turn the page: The Kings experienced one of those losses Wednesday night in Dallas that stick around long after the final horn. Leading by a goal in the final minute, they gave up the tying goal to the Stars with 20.4 seconds remaining and then lost in overtime, 3-2. Kings coach Terry Murray canceled a scheduled practice for Thanksgiving Day, giving the players a chance to regroup. Let’s see if they return the favor with a 60-minute effort against Chicago.

2. Staying the course: Despite a slashing penalty by veteran forward Ethan Moreau that basically set the Stars up for their game-tying goal, or Kyle Clifford’s miss on a wide-open net in the third period, Murray said he’s sticking with the same lineup against Chicago. That means Moreau and Clifford are in, and Trevor Lewis and Brad Richardson will take another seat as healthy scratches. That’s a bit of a gamble because the best quality Lewis and Richardson bring to the team is speed, and the Blackhawks are one of the speediest teams in the league.

3. Familiar face: After spending the first six years of his career in the Eastern Conference with the Philadelphia Flyers and then coming to L.A. in an offseason trade, Kings center Mike Richards is still a bit of a mystery to Western Conference teams. The Blackhawks know him well, however. Richards was with the Flyers when they lost to Chicago in the Stanley Cup Finals in 2010. He struggled during that six-game series, producing a goal and an assist and finishing minus-7. Richards is on a roll heading into this game, however, owning eight goals in the last eight games, including at least one in five straight.

4. Sharpe is nails: Something about the Kings brings out the best in Chicago center Patrick Sharp. He has 17 goals and 12 assists in 20 career games against Los Angeles, the only team in the league against which he averages more than a point a game. In his last game in Los Angeles in January, he had two goals and an assist in a 4-3 victory. He tuned up for the Kings by scoring his second career hat trick Friday afternoon in a 6-5 victory against the Ducks.

5. On your marks: The Blackhawks aren’t timid about getting into a track meet with opponents. They came into Friday’s game against the Ducks fourth in the league at 3.1 goals a game and remain the only team with four players owning at least 70 shots on goal. No other team in the NHL has more than two players past that mark. Because of their wide-open style, they also have a tendency to give up goals in bunches. In the last four games, they’ve allowed 20.

First-round opponents set for Kings, Ducks

April, 10, 2011
On the final day of the regular season, the Kings and Ducks finally learned who they will play in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Detroit held on Sunday morning to defeat Chicago, 4-3, keeping the Kings in seventh place in the Western Conference. They will open the postseason at San Jose either Wednesday or Thursday.

The playoff schedule will be announced later tonight.

The Ducks clinched fourth place Saturday night with a 3-1 victory against the Kings, giving them home-ice advantage in the first round. They will host the Nashville Predators.

With the loss by the defending champion Blackhawks, the door is open for ninth-place Dallas to bump them from the playoffs with a victory in regulation or overtime tonight in Minnesota, the final game of the regular season.

Check back later for more playoff previews.

Ducks: Corey Perry does it again...and again

March, 26, 2011
Ducks 2, Chicago Blackhawks 1

Eight keys to the game:

THE FACTS: Corey Perry continued his scoring tear for the Ducks, scoring two third-period goals to lift Anaheim to a come-from-behind victory at United Center in Chicago and leapfrog the Blackhawks into seventh place in the Western Conference standings.

THE STAT: Perry recorded back-to-back multi-goal games for the first time in his six-year career. He has four goals in his last two games, eight in the last five and 13 goals and four assists in the last nine.

TURNING POINT: With about 4 minutes remaining, Bobby Ryan jostled the puck loose from a Blackhawks player along the left wing boards. The puck squirted out to Ryan Getzlaf, who slid a centering pass to Perry in front of the net. Perry stopped the puck with his backhand and, with his back to rookie goalie Corey Crawford, spun and shot into the net for a 2-1 lead.

HOT: Nobody’s hotter than Perry, who took over the league lead in goals (44) from Steven Stamkos of Tampa Bay, but Anaheim goalkeeper Ray Emery is certainly off to the hottest start of any Ducks player. Emery stopped 27 of 28 shots to win his fourth consecutive start since joining the Ducks. He has allowed just six goals in those four victories.

NOT: Patrick Kane, the third-leading goal scorer for the Blackhawks, not only failed to register a point but had a team-high three giveaways, including the one that set up the winning goal. He was also a minus-two and served a two-minute hooking penalty on Ryan midway through the second period.

GOOD MOVE: Ducks coach Randy Carlyle gave No. 1 goalkeeper Jonas Hiller the night off after he allowed three goals on nine shots in a 5-4 loss Thursday in Nashville. It was Hiller’s first game back after missing 15 with vertigo-like symptoms, and he clearly wasn’t ready to return. Carlyle said after the Nashville game that he still planned to use Hiller down the stretch, but the points have become too valuable to take any chances.

BAD MOVE: With the score tied, 1-1, and 11 minutes remaining, the Ducks should have been awarded a power play after a Chicago player clearly hit the puck over the glass for a delay of game penalty. The referees missed it and play continued, despite a heavy protest from Ducks forward Teemu Selanne.

NOTABLE: Ducks defenseman Lubomir Visnovskywas on the ice for both of Perry’s goals. Coming into the game, Visnovsky had been on the ice for 63% of Anaheim’s goals this season, the best percentage of any player in the NHL. The Ducks have now won a league-leading 27 one-goal games.

UP NEXT: Monday vs. Colorado Avalanche at Honda Center, 7 p.m.

Kings: Murray comes out swinging after loss

January, 4, 2011

One thing I’ve learned in five years coaching Little League is never let the kids know they’re overmatched. Talk about it with the assistant coaches, maybe tell a parent or two, even tip off the plate umpire. You never know, it might get you a close call down the line.

That’s why it seemed a bit strange Monday night following the Kings’ 4-3 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, when coach Terry Murray began describing Chicago’s consistent high level of play, then compared the matchup with his team to a professional golfer playing a 5-handicapper.

"[The pro] just has to play the game, because he knows, if you’re a 5-handicapper, something is going to give, somewhere down the road," Murray said. "Some days, that 5-handicap golfer might win the game, but unfortunately I think we shot ourselves in the foot again here tonight."

Murray may not recognize this, but the difference between a pro golfer and a 5-handicap is quite substantial. Is Murray saying the gap between the Blackhawks and the Kings is just as large?

Granted, the Kings lost all four meetings against Chicago this season but three were by one goal and the other by two. Los Angeles was right there with the Blackhawks in every game. The results may have been one-sided but the difference in performance was minuscule.

In fact, the Kings still lead Chicago in the NHL skins game that’s better known as the Western Conference standings.

Hardly a difference that can fit on a handicap index.

The Kings, being one of the youngest teams in the NHL, don’t need to feel inferior to the Blackhawks, or any other team for that matter. Chicago won the Stanley Cup title last season, but they're certainly not head and shoulders above the Kings.

Maybe a better analogy would be Tigers Woods vs. Rickie Fowler.
Dave Joseph of ESPN 710 Radio discusses the Kings' fourth consecutive loss, 4-3, against the Chicago Blackhawks at Staples Center.

Kings: Few positives in latest loss

January, 3, 2011
LOS ANGELES—The Kings played another hard-fought, gritty game against the defending Stanley Cup champions, but there’s no more consolation in close losses to the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Kings lost their fourth in a row Monday evening and fourth and final game against Chicago this season, 4-3, allowing two tiebreaking third-period goals on defensive mistakes at Staples Center.

The last three losses to Chicago have come by one goal. Against the rest of the league, the Kings are 9-2-1 in one-goal games.

The final go-ahead score was credited to Jonathan Toews, but it came off the stick of Kings defenseman Drew Doughty with about 5 minutes to play. The puck had dribbled out from behind the net and into the crease, where Doughty tried to swipe it away, but it hit the skate of Toews and slid into the net.

The goal killed any momentum the Kings had after tying the score about two minutes earlier on the second goal of the game by Ryan Smyth and his fifth in the last four games.

The tying goal came on the last of three successive penalties by the Blackhawks. Jack Johnson took a shot from the point and it snapped Smyth’s stick as he parked in front of the crease and sailed into the net.

It was also the second assist of the game for Johnson, who earlier was credited with a first-period goal but it was later awarded to Michal Handzus on another deflection in front of the net.

The Blackhawks had taken a 3-2 lead early in the third period when rookie defenseman Alec Martinez was stripped of the puck in his own end by Tomas Kopecky. Patrick Sharp retrieved the puck, cut in front of goalkeeper Jonathan Quick and beat him to his glove side.

The Kings, who out-shot the Blackhawsks, 10-0, through the first 8 minutes, finished with just a 29-28 advantage.