Los Angeles Hockey: Patrick Kane

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: 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: Smyth's late breakaway goal ties it, 2-2

January, 3, 2011
After the 2st period:

Kings 2, Chicago Blackhawks 2

The good: Just as the Blackhawks did in the opening period, the Kings stole back the momentum in the closing minutes of the second as Ryan Smyth scored on a breakaway to tie the score. Drew Doughty set up the play by poking the puck loose from a Chicago player. Justin Williams scooped it in and slid a perfect pass to Smyth, who was a good 20 meters in front of the closest defender. Smyth, the oldest player on the Kings at age 34, beat Chicago goalkeeper Corey Crawford for his fourth goal in the last four games.

The bad: After not allowing a power play in 12 straight home games to start the season, the Kings aren’t even killing penalties well anymore. The Blackhawks scored their second power-play goal of the game on their second man-advantage situation. Anze Kopitar, one of the best penalty killers for the Kings, went to the box for delay of game after shooting the puck over the glass and Chicago didn’t waste any time taking a 2-1 lead. Patrick Sharp took a cross-ice pass from Patrick Kane and blasted it past goalkeeper Jonathan Quick with 12:49 remaining in the period. After out-shooting the Blackhawks, 10-0, through the first 8 minutes, shot on goal are all even, 18-18. Second line center Jarret Stoll hasn’t taken a shot and he has three giveaways.

The in between: Dustin Brown, the leading goal scorer for the Kings, hasn’t taken a shot, but he does have five hits. The Kings have out-hit the Blackhawks, 23-18, overall, so we’ll see if that begins to take its toll.

Kings: Blackhawks pull a three-peat

December, 19, 2010
Chicago Blackhawks 3, Kings 2

Eight keys to the game:

THE FACTS: The Kings gave up two goals in the second period and couldn’t rally in third, falling to 0-3 against the Blackhawks this season.

THE STAT: The Blackhawks allowed just one power play after playing a penalty-free game Friday night in a 4-1 victory against visiting Detroit.

TURNING POINT: Twenty-five seconds after Kings rookie Kyle Clifford tied the score in the second period with his second NHL goal, the Blackhawks regained the lead on a goal by Duncan Keith and never gave it up.

HOT: After going his first 19 games without a point, Clifford now has five points in his last eight games.

NOT: Kings goalie Jonathan Quick stopped a career-high 51 shots in 5-0 victory at Detroit last Monday, but has allowed eight goals in his two starts since, both losses.

GOOD MOVE: Quick did earn an assist on the second goal by the Kings, hitting Anze Kopitar with an outlet pass. Kopitar then passed off to Wayne Simmonds, who scored 1:18 into the third period to cut the deficit to 3-2.

BAD MOVE: Dustin Brown was whistled for a questionable boarding penalty with 2:47 left in the game, essentially ending the Kings’ chances of a comeback.

NOTABLE: Chicago played without two of its biggest scoring threats, Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa, who were out with injuries. Another forward, Viktor Stalberg, was also sidelined with an upper-body injury.

UP NEXT: at Colorado, Tuesday, 6:30 p.m. PT.

Kings can't get past Blackhawks, 2-1

November, 27, 2010
The defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks paid a visit to Staples Center on Saturday night and gave the Kings a lesson on how to protect a lead.

If there’s any good to come out of the 2-1 loss, the Kings' sixth in their last seven games, it’s that they at least took some notes.

Except for a 5-on-3 goal by Anze Kopitar with 5 minutes 2 seconds remaining in the game, the Kings couldn’t find the back of the net against Corey Crawford, who has essentially won the job from No. 1 goalie Marty Turco during Chicago’s six-game road trip that ended with the victory against Los Angeles and a 4-2 mark.

After outplaying the road-weary Blackhawks during the first period, the Kings seemed to put their newly re-aligned offense in neutral the rest of the way, totaling just 13 shots over the final two periods, despite having five power-play opportunities.

Chicago took a 1-0 lead when defenseman Jack Johnson whiffed on rebound that came back to him at the point, leading to a 2-on-1 going the other way. Patrick Sharp took a pass from Patrick Kane and snuck it past Kings goalie Jonathan Quick at the 10:36 mark of the second period.

With captain Dustin Brown moving from right wing to the left side on the top line, and Wayne Simmonds taking Brown’s spot on right wing, they provided a few moments of excitement, but Chicago seemed to adjust and limited the Kings to just three shots on goal in the second period, their lowest output for a period this season.

Kane and Sharp against hooked up early in the third period, as Sharp sent a centering pass that went off Kane's mid-section and into the Kings goal. After a brief review, the point counted and the Kings were chasing a 2-0 lead.

Kings: Counting down in the Windy City

October, 27, 2010
Kings (6-2-0) vs. Chicago Blackhawks (5-4-1) at United Center, 5:30 p.m. (PT)

Five storylines to track:

1. Decision time – The clock is about to strike midnight for Kings rookies Brayden Schenn and Kyle Clifford. This being the ninth game, the Kings will need to decide before Thursday’s game at Dallas whether to keep one or both 19- year-olds, or send them back to their junior teams. If they remain on the roster, the club will be on the hook for the first year of their NHL contracts, regardless if they stick with the team. Schenn has two assists in six games, Clifford has no assists or shots on goal in four appearances.

2. Power play heating up – In the last two games, the Kings have climbed from 30th in the league in power-play efficiency to a tie for 15th after scoring three extra-man goals and another on a 5-on-3 opportunity. They still have a ways to go to match their 20.8% success rate on the power play last season, which was seventh-best in the league, but they are definitely headed in the right direction.

3. Bernier gets a turn – Jonathan Bernier seems to be adjusting to his first-ever stint as a backup goalkeeper. As the confirmed starter against the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks, the Kings hope the final period of his last appearance will carry over to the Windy City. He looked rusty and indecisive while giving up three goals in the first 35 minutes against visiting Carolina on Oct. 20 but was sterling down the stretch killing two power plays in the 4-3 victory.

4. The Chicago Shuffle -- Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville went back to the drawing board at practice Tuesday and re-shuffled all four lines and a few positions. Patrick Sharp, a natural center who has a league-leading eight goals, moved to right wing on the first line with center Jonathan Toews and former fourth-liner Jack Skille. Sharp took the spot of Patrick Kane, who took his minus-7 rating down to the third line. For more details on the changes, check out this link to ESPNChicago.

5. A healthy dose of Hossa – Chicago forward Marian Hossa is feeling fit as a fiddle and that’s not a good sign for opponents. The 31-year-old Czech hasn’t scored a point in the last three games but remains on pace to score 50-plus goals this season. Some are saying he looks like the player he was during his career-best 2006-07 season, when he scored a franchise-record 100 points as a member of the Atlanta Thrashers.