Chicago Blackhawks v Los Angeles Kings

“Game of the Night” is a feature that takes a daily look at the best game on the NHL schedule, and sets it up for you. So y’know, you should probably watch the game below. This is brought to you by the Werner Ladder Company (check out their hockey vid here), because how else do you think the bulbs in the red goal light get changed?

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Who:

Los Angeles Kings at Chicago Blackhawks

Records:

Los Angeles Kings: 17-12-2 (last 10: 5-5-0), 6th in West, 36 points

Chicago Blackhawks: 24-3-3 (last 10: 7-3-0), 1st in West, 51 points

Justification:

I figure “NHL’s best team so far versus defending Cup champions” doesn’t need much ‘splainin’, Lucy.

Head-to-head:

Blackhawks have beat Los Angeles 5-2 and 3-2 this season – this is the last time they’ll face each other.

Puck drop: 8:00 p.m. EST

Need to know:

* The Los Angeles Kings’ talented offense is playing like a bunch of dusters that past few games. They’ve lost two straight, and they haven’t scored since March 19th, covering a span of 126 minutes and 14 seconds.

* The Blackhawks are headed back home after going 3-1 on a four game road trip. That would normally make a team happy, but the Blackhawks lost to the only team chasing them, the Ducks, after leading 2-1 in the third.

* Toews is gunning lately – four goals and three assists in his past three games.

* Kings have the third best goal differential in the West (+12) behind only Anaheim (+23) and Chicago (+36).

* Both are rumored to be in the Jarome Iginla sweepstakes. That’s really not relevant to their head-to-head match-up, but it’s still sort of neat.

Player stats: 

hawkskingsstats

Injuries (via NHL.com):

Willie Mitchell is day-to-day with a knee injury, while Matt Greene’s back injury has him out indefinitely for the Kings. … Marian Hossa did not dress for Chicago’s tilt against Anaheim and is day-to-day with an upper-body injury.Patrick Sharp is on the injured reserve with a shoulder injury.

Goaltenders:

Chicago: Corey Crawford (confirmed)

From DailyFaceoff.comIn Crawford’s last start he allowed three goals on 25 shots in only his third regulation loss this season.

Los Angeles: Jonathan Quick (confirmed)

From DailyFaceoff.comThe Kings haven’t scored a goal with Quick in net in either of his last two starts.

What I’m looking forward to:

Watching the best post-season team from last year (who’s still built the same) face this year’s best regular season team. This matchup also happens to be as star-laden as star-laden gets – Toews, Kane, Keith, Hossa, Kopitar, Carter, Doughty, Richards and more.

I kind of have a hunch the Kings are about to turn a corner and climb the standings even further (they were rolling before their two losses), and a win in a close game against the Blackhawks would do just that. There’s “springboard” potential here.

Prediction:

Because of that, I’ll take the Kings in a close one. The Kings will be aware they have to bring their “A” game to compete tonight, and when they get up for a game, they’re tough to beat.

Game of the Night prediction record:

5-5-0