This Ain’t No Picnic – Kings vs Hawks Game 2 Preview, Pregame Thread, Junior Prom

216px-Los_Angeles_Kings_Crown_Logo.svg vs oldschool

Game Time: 7:00PM Central
TV/Radio: NBCSN, TSN (Anglo), RDS (Franco), WGN-AM 720
Murray’s Revenge: The Royal Half, Jewels From The Crown, Battle of California

While the common perception was that the Hawks were outplayed on Sunday afternoon despite having a far longer layoff than the put-upon Kings coming fresh off their exhausting 6-2 carpet bombing of the Ducks in Game 7 of the previous series, it doesn’t change the fact that the Hawks have a 1-0 series lead. Though given that this iteration of the Kings has already erased 3-2 and 3-0 series deficits this post-season alone, it remains up for debate just how much that will matter in the grand scheme of things.

Other than a glaring mistake or two that ended up in the back of their own net (namely Jake Muzzin’s failed pinch/kill shot on Bryan Bickell), Coach Darryl Sutter likely was pleased overall with his team’s execution on Sunday, wherein the Kings controlled long stretches of play, like the entire second period. The underlying numbers bear that out, where basically every King who didn’t see time against the Toews and Hossa line was in the black possession wise.

However, the line that saw the most time against Toews and Hossa was the trio of Anze Kopitar, Marian Gaborik, and Dustin Brown, with Kopitar being held scoreless for just the second time in 15 games this spring. Sutter told the press today that he isn’t going to shy away from the matchup, which makes sense because he’s on the road and it might be more trouble than it’s worth with the Hawks being able to capitalize on bad changes like few teams in the league. But one can at least understand Sutter’s thought process (Hawk) in having hopefully have Kopitar play Toews to a standstill and have his other lines take advantage of the fact that Michal Handzus is still getting 20 minutes a night on purpose. And while Kopitar and Toews are about as evenly matched as can be imagined, the problem might lie in the fact that one of Kopitar’s linemates spends more time falling to the ice or sticking his knee out than actually backchecking, whereas Toews has that Horsa guy.

On Sunday the Kings’ blue line gave a spotty performance at best even with the much anticipated return of Willie Mitchell. Drew Doughty delivered as billed with his do-it-all abilities and mentality, though having to cover for a partner on walkabout probably wasn’t something that he’d prefer to have to do regularly. Even on the road, Doughty will still play near half the game in all situations, and as Sunday showed, Q won’t shy away from with Toews. Again, the logic being similar to that of Sutter’s with Kopitar, that having Toews occupy Doughnuts will free up some of the other lines to take advantage of the likes of Jeff Schultz and the defensively curious Alec Martinez.

Of course, as has always been the case for the Kings, none of it really matters if Jon Quick is only going to stop 17 out of 20 shots. While last year Quick was obviously still feeling the effects of back surgery even with the lockout layoff, he’s presumed healthy for this spin at the wheel, and a .916 even strength save percentage, particularly against the Hawks isn’t going to cut it for L.A. For all of their possession dominance, the Kings do it with a straight ahead attack that basically has them throw everything on net and crash, with only Kopitar really having a plan B. Because of that, the Kings have always needed Quick to be a mutant when they’ve had success. And though he hasn’t shown it but for a couple flashes this playoff, he still always has the potential to do so on a given game.

As for our Men of Four Feathers, Andrew Shaw will remain out of the lineup for tonight despite taking practice with the team yesterday and today. This means Peter Regin will get one last crack at proving his worthiness of a consistent lineup spot, and he’ll get to do so with Patrick Sharp on his left as a carry over from the changes made in Game 1. Sharp’s troubles have been documented, and perhaps a look at a little bit more of the underbelly of the King’s lineup from the “third” line will possibly jump start him. This leaves Brandon Saad with Michal Handzus and Patrick Kane, which gives that line an element of puck pursuit it didn’t have with Sharp, who is better at finding open space than hunting pucks down. And given the fact that at any given moment Zus is at least 6 strides behind the play, it gives Patrick Kane more options, particularly when the Kings are sending 2 and 3 defenders directly at him as soon as he crosses the blue line and looks to pull up and find his options.

On the back end, there has been no word of any lineup change after Nick Leddy had his ass stapled to the bench after letting Tyler Toffoli behind him in spite of having his most active game since his scratching in the Minnesota series. Obviously Leddy is on a short leash, and he’ll need to make the most of the favorable zone starts he gets to avoid yet another seat for the final period of the game. Corey Crawford is still doing pretty alright in net, so he’ll get the start.

With the opportunity to take a road split and home ice still on the table for the Kings, look for them again to suffocate the neutral zone rather than sending forecheckers in deep to harass the Hawk blueliners. As usual, this will mean an avoidance of stretch passes in favor or a station to station attack, as well as Nick Leddy to shake off whatever tentativeness he may have (and has shown in the past post benching) to be the one man trap buster that he’s capable of being. Take the lessons learned from Game 1 and improve upon them. Let’s go Hawks.

If you’re heading to the UC tonight make sure to pick up a copy of our gameday program from one of our vendors. We’re at the four corners of the arena. And if you’re not attending tonight’s festivities, you can pick up the digital version right here:



  • ballyb11

    Hawks outshot by 4 1/2 shots per game in playoffs. Fourth derivatives of fancy analytics notwithstanding, it’s not gonna continue ending positively.

    • Black JEM

      The only thing to consider is that the Hawks seem to have one period of getting whacked – and then outshooting their opponents by smaller margins the other two periods. Is there a way to check for that stat outside of compiling the data off of each old boxscore?

      • Black JEM

        I actually looked it up and there is very little patttern at all, maybe getting terribly outshot in the 2nd period, where in all the playoff games combined they have only out shot their opponent in 4 2nd periods (4/13). If you take the other two periods one is 6 and the other 7 times outshooting the opponent. 50%. It seems if we are playing with fire its in the second period.

    • GypsyDanger86

      I think they’ll be fine. I agree they have to improve to beat the Kings, but the players on this team have given us all the reason in the world to have faith that they can elevate when the time calls for it.

    • TheRealBBOX

      This has indeed been the oddest playoff run for this team out of the last six years. Somehow I both totally agree with your concerns and at the same time am not particularly worried that they will result in the Blackhawks’ ultimate demise. I hate to meatball it up by throwing out words like intangibles or clutch or heart, but this team seems so unphased when the ice tilts against them, like they know Crow will keep them in it until they can pick their spot for the kill shot.

      I’d like to see them get back to the comfortable wins where they dominate possession and leave the other team crying for mercy, but I don’t know if that will happen with the lack of production from the bottom six in the playoffs. I guess as long as they have a bigger number on the scoreboard than the Other Guys it’s fine, but I’m definitely keeping my antacids close by.

    • 60MinutesBaby60

      So only go 3 deep the derivs. Problem solved.

  • jordyhawk

    Before playoffs started, Strombone1 was asked on TSN to pick a goalie, defenseman, and forward that he saw as playoff difference makers. He picked Quick, Seabrook, and Bergeron. It may have been posted already, but, in case not, here are TSN’s player rankings after round 2:

    http://www.tsn.ca/fantasy_news/feature/?ID=8978

    • GypsyDanger86

      The picture in that article is just fantastic.

  • http://www.lotsofbutterplease.com/ I am not Chico Maki

    Corey Crawford gets the start. That made me laugh.

    • Crash

      He could use a rest. Play Raanta.

      • 60MinutesBaby60

        No offense to Raat but sub of choice for me is still #35.
        And always will be.

        • yinkadoubledare

          Frank Thomas really would pretty much take up the entire net at this point. Oh, you didn’t mean that #35

    • MySpoonIsTooBig

      Is there still time to trade dat lazy bum Kane for Miller?

  • GypsyDanger86

    Kings are going to come storming out of the gates in this game, but I’m sure the Hawks are expecting that and are prepared for it.

    If they can go up 2-0 at home, that’s huge, because then the best LA can manage at home is 2-2… and I hear the Hawks have been preeeeeettty good lately when series come down to best-of-3.

    • http://www.lotsofbutterplease.com/ I am not Chico Maki

      Solid math there with your deuces.

      • Waylon

        I’m guessing you’re referring to the ones he leaves in the toilet.

    • 60MinutesBaby60

      Simple really. BHs maintain home ice they win SC.
      Not gone be easy I know but there ya goes amigoes

  • PE-TER RE-GIN

    I like Saad moving up to the second line full time*, although I don’t know how I feel about Sharpie on the third the way he has been (not) going. Someone from that third line isn’t going to be playing Saturday, and it won’t be Sharp.

    So if Sharp is just going through a bad streak versus carrying something, it’d be awesome to see him break through tonight. Might make the decision on who to take out for Shaw…tougher. I dunno.

    *Until the blender comes out

    • GypsyDanger86

      Sadly, it’s pretty much a guarantee that the person coming out for Shaw will be your namesake.

      • Jalamanta

        It’s sad because a 4th line of Regin-Kruger-Smith would be absolutely nails. That’s the 4th line of the future in the NHL: Three guys who are never going to let you down in the defensive zone and can chip in offensively. They can all also move up and down the lineup. No such flexibility/defensive upside with Bollig.

        If I could do college again, I’d try to write a thesis on roster/line construction.

        • PE-TER RE-GIN

          Is 23-12-11 just a no-go at the playoff level at this point in time? The line had chemistry at season’s end, but there’s likely some defensive risk rolling it. And I’m not just saying for this series…against STL or MIN, too.

          • Jalamanta

            I’ve come to terms with Morin sitting down. It’s just not worth getting angry about anymore.
            I actually think Q is *almost* there. He just needs to do the right thing when Shaw gets back – sitting Bollig the hell down and letting Regin continue to do what he’s been doing.

          • PE-TER RE-GIN

            I have as well. I mean, if we want Regin out there, and we want Morin out there, but we also want Shaw out there…we’ll fight our battles, as a peanut gallery.

          • The Other One

            Actually, the line was 29-12-11, but Bickell isn’t moving down and Morin’s not playing.

          • PE-TER RE-GIN

            Whoops! Thanks for correcting. You’re right on both counts, though.

          • birdhead

            Put 10 back up with Serious and God.

          • PE-TER RE-GIN

            Do you think he’d do better than what Bickell has been doing, at this point in time? (Serious question)

          • The Other One

            I’m fine with Sharp going down – leverages the depth, and he’s still an amazing player (the Hawks have 3 LW’s that would be on the first line for most teams). Now, if he could only finish on one of those breakaways. I think tonight’s the night!

            Leave Bickell where he is…

          • PE-TER RE-GIN

            Call me crazy, but I thought about this Monday…10-16-28. Is that the worst thing ever?

          • The Other One

            Nope – wonder if there would need to be any adjustment for familiarity. I’m not Q though

          • 60MinutesBaby60

            Acumen.

          • birdhead

            It was really just a suggestion for a way to make the 29-12-11 line go. I am becoming slightly less convinced that Morin is ready for the playoffs. But if 29-12-11 could do what they were doing at the end of the year, then I think cumulatively 29-12-11 and 10-19-81 produces the strongest two lines overall. Assuming 28-16-52 stays in place I actually like a 29-65-23 line too in a way that I don’t like the idea of 10-65-23 but I’m not sure why.

          • PE-TER RE-GIN

            Oh I understand, I was really just curious what your thoughts were on Bickell vs Sharp on the top line at this point in time. 10-65-23 sounds awful to me, for some reason. I feel like you’d have Versteeg doing his “Damnit, Versteeg!” type things, Shaw getting out of position for some hits, Sharp being streaky…not appealing. I love seeing Regin and Morin together based on the end of the season, but I tend to trust Q on the ‘Morin in the playoffs’ issue.

          • The Other One

            That will probably happen, at some point tonight

          • 60MinutesBaby60

            Up voted ya not cuz i necessarily agree but cuz I gotta kick outta the names used.

          • PE-TER RE-GIN

            Seriously Handsome God

        • 60MinutesBaby60

          Jalamata brings acumen Yes he does.

      • PE-TER RE-GIN

        Regin or Versteeg, the way I see it. They’re the two “Most Likely to be Scratched” candidates on offense so far.

      • The Other One

        No, it’s not a guarantee. And Versteeg isn’t coming out either. Q eventually settles to a level of sanity that wins games.

  • birdhead

    HOCKEY TODAY!

    • ahnfire

      hooray!

      • birdhead

        I realised the other day that one way or the other the season is nearly over and had a bit of a freakout about it. MUST. ENJOY. ALL. HOCKEY. MUST. GET. EXCITED.

  • Peter Turner

    The only way to beat the Kings is for the Hawks to play like they have their backs against the wall. Every game from here on should be a game 7. If the team gives plays their best. Win or lose, I’d still be a satisfied Hawks fan.

  • Jim

    dem blackhocks is pretty good

    • PE-TER RE-GIN

      ‘Cept for Kane. He’s a lazy alcoholic. And that Crawferrrrd gets beat glove side, like, more than the number of minutes Ryan Suter plays. And they just can’t win a Cup with Niemi.

  • http://www.lotsofbutterplease.com/ I am not Chico Maki

    I have excitement. You?

    • Sparky_The_Bard-barian

      I have a lovely bunch of coconuts.

    • birdhead

      YES

    • CozBullsFan

      Tried to stay as busy as possible today to make time go by faster. That never works.

    • PE-TER RE-GIN

      Excitement and a beer, soon enough.

    • Bruno_the_Blackhawk_Cat

      Cheerleading chant: Hey Get Excited

      (wrong colors, but roll with it)

      http://youtu.be/1JeXSLx9njI

      • http://www.lotsofbutterplease.com/ I am not Chico Maki

        They should hire some English majors to help work on those chants.

        • Bruno_the_Blackhawk_Cat

          I don’t think too many cheerleaders get their jobs from their ability to work in iambic pentameter.

  • birdhead
    • http://www.lotsofbutterplease.com/ I am not Chico Maki

      He and Hartnell, they can get seriously Sideshow Bobbish.

    • Bruno_the_Blackhawk_Cat
      • CozBullsFan

        That is a glorious head of hair.

      • birdhead

        Wasn’t that was the last time he was with the Hawks? I think he’s too Dadly to have the really good hockey hair now, sadly.

        • Bruno_the_Blackhawk_Cat

          Yeah, that’s got to be an old photo. I just Googled him and he’s got short hair in his current photos.

        • http://www.lotsofbutterplease.com/ I am not Chico Maki

          That’s his 8-games-with-Havlat Hawk days.

          • birdhead

            pity! Saad is really left on his own to carry the mantle of the hockey hair (I mean Kane tries but … he doesn’t succeed.)

          • http://www.lotsofbutterplease.com/ I am not Chico Maki

            That’s one realm where you’ll get universal agreement about Kane’s lack of success.

    • YoAdrienne

      It was pretty wild during his first run with the Hawks, too:

      http://sharkcircle.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/michal-handzus-long-hair.jpg

      • birdhead

        I’m jealous of the volume (but not of the halo of split ends. trims, guys.)

        • Bruno_the_Blackhawk_Cat

          I’ve been growing my hair out for a while and the spring/summer humidity is starting to do ugly things. I don’t rate a full Handzus, I probably should take your advice soon.

          • birdhead

            I also need to take my own advice tbh. but he’s a millionaire, he can afford a six-weekly trim!

          • YoAdrienne

            Well, he sure did trim it, eventually. Thank goodness.

        • YoAdrienne

          When I wore my hair longer, I had to get a permanent wave in order to get that kind of volume.

          • birdhead

            I have been half-assedly contemplating a perm or at least, like, curling my hair sometimes. I’m growing it out and I like the length but man I’m sick of the plastered-flat-to-my-head look.

      • http://www.lotsofbutterplease.com/ I am not Chico Maki

        That is something else.

  • 60MinutesBaby60

    Kings are tough opponent. Props & Respect. But Beloved brings it for 60 and I’m liking our odds.
    #PuckLuck_ByProduct_of_Hustle

  • CozBullsFan

    I’ve questioned Q’s roster moves much like everyone else here. Q keeping Shaw out tonight has nothing to do with his health. It has everything to do with Q making a brilliant chess move. Keeping him out tonight gives Q an ace in the hole. Shaw is the key to Hawks having four lines.

    • 60MinutesBaby60

      I dunno. Shins said he was good to go. So why not turn him loose?

      • CozBullsFan

        Because Q thinks the team can win tonight without him. The Kings have a great crowd and they will be energized playing at home. Letting Shaw loose there gives the Hawks an added boost to offset them. He does the little things that the Hawks need to complete their bottom six depth. Wins board battles and goes to the net. He’s also a giant pain in the ass to the other team.

        • 60MinutesBaby60

          Sold me. Shaw suits game 3.

        • Bruno_the_Blackhawk_Cat

          Agreed. Shaw’s basically “a guy.” Who ever he replaces isn’t going to make an earth-shattering difference. (It’s not like Kane going down.) Might as well be sure he’s really, really, healthy so he doesn’t get more seriously injured fighting in the crease.

    • Sparky_The_Bard-barian

      Shaw was in the white ‘don’t hit me’ sweater at practice. That tells me he was never an option tonight.

      • CozBullsFan

        I think that was some gamesmanship on Q’s part.

  • PE-TER RE-GIN

    Any Cyanide and Happiness fans in here?

    • CozBullsFan

      <—-

    • http://www.lotsofbutterplease.com/ I am not Chico Maki

      I hate that I have to refresh to see pics.

  • Bruno_the_Blackhawk_Cat

    Looks like glorious weather in Chicago. Everybody in shorts and short sleeves. I bet the TCI sellers working the stadium appreciate it, too.

  • ahnfire