With the playoffs on the horizon, I wanted to put together previews of each series, but more specifically, I wanted to put together the type of previews I’d want to read. Bite-sized, few stats, and little splash of opinion for seasoning. This is my attempt at providing that.
1) Chicago Blackhawks vs 5) Los Angles Kings
Head-to-Head in 2013: Blackhawks won two of the three contests.
A stat: These teams haven’t met in playoffs since 1974. Okay, that was more of a fact.
*** ALL STATS REGULAR SEASON ***
Goal differentials: Los Angeles: +15, Blackhawks: +53
Shots-per-game: Los Angeles: 29.8 (12th), Blackhawks: 31.1 (5th)
Shots-against-per-game: Los Angeles: 25 (3rd), Blackhawks: 26.2 (4th)
LAK: Jonathan Quick, .902 save percentage, 2.45 goals-against-average
CHI: Corey Crawford, .926 save percentage, 1.94 goals-against average
LAK: Anze Kopitar, 42 points in 47 games
CHI: Patrick Kane, 55 points in 47 games
Reason to watch: No-brainer. Really, “reason to watch” is a relevant category for the first round and the first round only. Two best teams in the West are playing. If that doesn’t tickle your fancy, well, can’t help ya.
Lately: Kings beat the Sharks in seven, Blackhawks did the same with the Red Wings.
LAK: 19.9% (10th)
CHI: 16.7% (19th)
LAK: 83.2% (10th)
CHI: 87.2% (3rd)
Special teams evaluation: That Chicago’s powerplay isn’t better is a little confounding.
First game: 5:00 p.m. EST
Flippant barstool opinion: Comes down to Crawford. If he can hang, Blackhawks can do this. Without him they’re boned.
Closing thought: You can’t really ask more from a match up than this. If I’m the Kings, I’m a little concerned about the Toews drought, and that Kane hasn’t done more. A new series provides them with a fresh start, and getting by the second round eliminates a lot of the pressure from those guys (losing in round two after the President’s Trophy doesn’t cut it. Losing now wouldn’t be The Worst Thing). I’m not sure if the Kings D can handle Chicago’s depth, where LA generally struggles to score and the Hawks are pretty solid on the back. Hence what I said before: this is on Crawford. He’s good – and I think he can be – and they can knock out the defending champs.
Prediction: Blackhawks in six
Your NHL.com trailer: