This Traffic Is Hell Can You Give Me A Lift?: Kings at Hawks Game 1 Preview/Pregame Thread/Disco Brunch

King Jerry Lawler vs. Hawk Wrestler

FACEOFF: 2pm Central

TV/RADIO: NBC, 87.7 FM

SITTIN’ ON THE THRONE: The Royal Half, Jewels From The Crown

Seems so familiar. A presence we haven’t felt since… well, last year.

The Kings roll into the United Center a mere 40 hours after clocking a fellow California team in a Game 7, though this time the Hawks only needed six games in their previous round. And that’s starts a bit of a train of things that are different this time around, which is going to make for a very tough series.

The first thing that isn’t like the other is that the Kings do not come in here beat up as they were, at least we think so. Last year almost every center for the Kings was missing or was carrying something. Anze Kopitar couldn’t lift his arms above the elbow, Mike Richards would get run over by Dave Bolland and miss the next three games, Jarret Stoll barely returned, and on it went.

Not so this time. Kopitar might be your leading Conn Smythe candidate and has torn a hole in the world with linemate Marian Gaborik so far. Richards is healthy but on the 4th line (what a luxury). Stoll and Jeff Carter seem to be mostly at full-strength, though there are whispers about Carter. If the Hawks center depth is going to be a problem, it will be a problem this series.

Another variation on last year is that the Kings are deeper on the wings than last time. Justin Williams, one of the best possession players in the league the past three years, is on the third line. That’s thanks to the addition of Gaborik and rookie Tanner Pearson, who is skating on the second line with Tyler Toffoli and Carter and that unit looks for all the world to be the one to do the best Haula-Fontaine-Cooke impression, except with a lot more talent. When Gaborik and Kopitar haven’t been ripping out hearts and eating them while still beating, it’s been these guys.

So we know Q will probably throw Toews at Kopitar in a matchup that should have every hockey fan drooling. But at Carter’s line? Handzus might disintegrate trying to keep up. Regin with Saad and Versteeg? Awfully outsized. Kruger’s reconstituted Human Shield line? Replace “Handzus” with “Bollig” in the sentence above. It’s an issue.

Want something similar to last year? Ok, I can do that. The Kings’ blue line below Drew Doughty is still something of a question. In fact, Doughty is a question because after turning the Sharks into whatever color he damn pleased he only managed two points against the Ducks, and some will tell you he’s carrying an injury. Whether he is or not, Jake Muzzin, Slava Voynov (who’s been terrible), Matt Greene, Alec Martinez and Jeff Schultz are not going to give the Hawks much pause. Silly Martinez and Voynov pinches and beating the rest to the outside most definitely are on the menu.

But the question is will the Hawks have the puck enough to consistently get at the Kings blue line. They didn’t against the Wild and were bailed out by Corey Crawford and moments of individual brilliance. Well, here comes perhaps the league’s best possession team, though they did have their off nights against the Ducks and let Jonathan Quick bail them out.

The Hawks simply will not escape their own zone as easily as they did in last year’s WCF. Last time, when it was the somewhat plodding Kings’ wingers coming after them, they could move the puck or their feet quickly enough to bypass the forecheck. It’s a different story when it’s Gabbo, Toffoli, and Pearson coming to dinner instead of King, Clifford, and Williams. Combine that with the yippiness we’ve seen from all seven Hawk d-men at different points this series instead of the assuredness of last year, and it’s going to be an adventure. Not one they can’t overcome, but it’s going to look ugly at parts. Unless the Hawks have been waiting for this moment to turn on all the lights and gizmos, but I doubt that’s the case.

Oh, and the Kings power play is humming thanks to Gaborik. It’s moving along at a 22% clip, so this will be a much bigger challenge than the blank stares of Minnesota and St. Louis.

The whole series basically hinges on how well the Hawks can retrieve and breakout, because the Kings’ attack, even with its new toys, isn’t all that much more sophisticated than it was. It’s still about getting the puck deep, causing a ruckus below the goal line and then recycling the puck back to the point or to the net. Once they gain possession they’re a little more spicy, and they can turn mistakes at their blue line into dangerous rushes the other way with all the new speed they have. So the collective case of diphtheria the Hawks have had in trying to get through the neutral zone this spring–trying to skate through three guys or bypassing it all together with another missed Hollywood pass–has to be out the window this series. If the Hawks pile up the icings as they’ve done they will get clocked at the dot, and you don’t want Kopitar and Gaborik piling up time in your zone.

Strap yourselves in. This will be a much bumpier ride.

If you’re not going to today’s game, pick up a copy of today’s game program from us, The Committed Indian. If you are, we’ll be at all four corners of the arena selling hard copies. 



  • Joe Banks

    And which team is the leader in the “fancy statS”? Hasn’t Hockey Prospectus predicted the last 5 cup winners in a row?

    I better go to Binny’s before the game… time to purchase some good playoff Scotch – any recommendations?

    Getting nervious…

    • MattC86

      Aberlour 16 is the nectar of the gods; better than anything else I’ve ever had and on sale (in DC, usually way higher than at Binny’s) for like $65-70. Pricey, yes, but worth every goddamned penny.

  • BrandonPirri

    Any idea why these tickets are selling for so little?

    • ballyb11

      Not sure, but if you think they’re cheap now, wait til 1:55. They might be < $50.

      • BrandonPirri

        That’s my plan.

        • ballyb11

          Ya need a printer for the car (Stubhub)……..or hang around Billy Goat’s.

          • BrandonPirri

            You can use your phone as a ticket now, you don’t need to print them out anymore.

          • ballyb11

            As of when?

          • Commit88

            I thought if you bought the tickets on stubhub they go from the chicago office to will call at the stadium at a certain time before game time. I’m pretty sure if you buy tickets that are not digital, you can pick them up at will call, although I would double check before purchasing.

          • ahnfire

            THE FUTURE HAS ARRIVED!

  • MattC86

    Awesome TCI today – and the podcast with TRH was great. I want to meet those guys, they’re pretty much my Twitter favorites, with the possible exception of the Leafs guys and their constant Day of Ashura routine.

    McClure – one thought on the Kings and Hawks as WC rulers, I forget if it was you or Fels who in the earlier five-hole podcast was terrified of the Kings, but I think Anaheim and Minnesota are the other dangers here. Anaheim has a great farm system right now, so you figure they’ve got 2-3 years tops before the new paper situation destroys them. Selanne and Saku coming off the books could help Uncle Bob. Same with Minny; they just need a goalie.

    Hopefully Minny goes out and signs Vanek for ALL THE MONEY (he’s been a waste in MTL except on the PP this playoffs in the games I’ve watched) which gives them a year before a 2010-Hawks-Like cap-clysm blows them up.

  • Special Agent Dale Cooper

    Not many Hawks fans are overly optimistic….everywhere I look, Hawks fans think the Kings have their number this year….gonna be a tight series…DROP THE PUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • mightymikeD

      and everyone else on the planet seems to be picking the Hawks.. but then again, we are smarter than everyone!

      • Special Agent Dale Cooper

        LMFAO! Still makin’ beer?

        • mightymikeD

          made a nice Altbier yesterday and am supping on my latest IPA as we speak..

          • Special Agent Dale Cooper

            Nicely done….I’m gonna be hittin’ the Gin and Bitter Lemon in a bit…as soon as the puck drops

          • mightymikeD

            good work!

          • Special Agent Dale Cooper

            Thanks…you thrilled as I am that this game is at a reasonable time for us out here? LMAO!

          • mightymikeD

            loving it.. but eyeing up those LA start times with a sense of dread & sleep-deprivation to come

          • Special Agent Dale Cooper

            Yeah..tell me about it…I think I’m gonna go to bed at like 8:00pm for those games..wake up at 3:00 and then just go to work right after the game !!

          • ahnfire

            wait, Dale, where are you?

          • Special Agent Dale Cooper

            Croatia…you?

          • ahnfire

            I’m in NYC. My whining about timing is nothing compared to you guys.

          • ahnfire

            the only thing I have on you is that I have to deal with more Eastern Conference fans than you guys do. ughhhh so annoying.

          • Special Agent Dale Cooper

            I believe you there….the only fans I deal with are…..well..there aren’t that many hockey fans here…so I’m pretty much a loner….the only time I really talk hockey here is when I run into a Canadian guy in a bar or something..And then I get bitched out for Americans not liking hockey as much as other sports…but it’s better than nothing!

          • Special Agent Dale Cooper

            LOL! Anyone who isn’t in the Central time zone has the right to whine…You have no idea how hard it was trying not to scream when Kaner scored the Cup winner in 2010….didn’t wanna wake up the entire house at 5:30-6:00 in the morning!!

          • mightymikeD

            I yelled when he scored the OT winner against MIN.. and then clapped my hands over my mouth guiltily

          • Special Agent Dale Cooper

            I punched the air while I was laying in bed….woke the wife up….she is a bit used to it…she said: Hawks win? She was sleeping when they beat Boston last year…and I woke her up then too….she claims I had tears in my eyes…I’m still denying it to this day…HAHAHAHA!

          • mightymikeD

            that’s the tried-and-true way, alright.. shame I suck at napping

          • Special Agent Dale Cooper

            Mix some pain killers with your IPA..if that doesn’t do the trick then nothing will

          • mightymikeD

            *dies*

          • 60MinutesBaby60

            Luv this thread branch BHs are bad Yeah they’re bad bad bad bad bad they’re WORLDWIDE.

    • Sparky_The_Bard-barian

      Personally, We’ve done better than I thought we would in a retooling year. We all knew coming in that the bottom six needed time…

      Hopeful, confident, but I’m not going to become one of those fans who sees the season as a failure if it doesn’t end in a parade.

  • unkind

    LETS GO HAWKS!!

  • jordyhawk

    Kings comebacks in first two series were amazing. However, while we are not as physical as Sharks or Ducks we are tougher. We can take it. And we have proven that we can dig deeper than most teams and strike quickly when needed. I have no idea this series will play out, but it’s a great test for us. They are one tough club.

    • GypsyDanger86

      Agreed. No way to quantify it really, but this team has a winners mindset and knows how to put the skate to the throat in a series. They’re not a group of chronic underachievers that will buckle when the first hint of doubt creeps in, and they’re not a young/inexperienced team lead by Bruce Boudreau.

      The Kings have played their best this year with their backs against the wall. If they wait for that to turn it on against the Hawks, it will be too late.

    • 60MinutesBaby60

      Acumen brother – you have it.

  • GypsyDanger86

    Here we go. The killers vs the unkillable. Should be a war! Can’t wait!

  • Jim

    I wish

    1. The Hawks would put Regin on the 4th line, and scratch Bollig.

    2. The Hawks would put Kane and Toews together, and quit putting Handzus as 2nd line Center.

    I know there must be a reason they are doing this. Just don’t know what it is.

    • GypsyDanger86

      I kind of like Regin as 3C and Kruger as 4C.

      I liked Smith as 2C, but apparently Q didn’t. I’m hopeful that if Zus gets torn apart by the speed of the Carter line as Sam predicts, Q will be smart enough to recognize the lack of speed as the problem and not simply say ‘we need more’ or some such bullshit.

      When Shaw comes back, I’d actually prefer to see him play wing on one of the bottom 6 lines, because IMO he’s a better winger than he is a center. In a perfect world, he replaces Bollig…. le sigh

      • jordyhawk

        I think playing Benny at 2C was worth a shot, but it wasn’t especially effective and he is probably more valuable back at wing with Kruger. Totally agree with you on where to play Shaw and Regin. Like it or not, we still don’t have any great options to replace Zus at 2C if we are going to play 4 lines although no doubt Q will do some juggling.

        • Special Agent Dale Cooper

          I think if Q sees that Zus is getting out run he’ll double shift Smtih here and there playing with Sharp and Kane…I still think if Shaw comes back you throw Smith up there with Sharp and Kane, and chuck Bollig out..but I doubt that’ll happen

  • April O’Neil

    Getting real nervous for this one. Not that I haven’t been anxious at points throughout the last few series, but I couldn’t even sleep in today. Go Hawks.

  • OldTimeHawkey

    Who’s the best twitter to follow for the 4 line updates?

    • ahnfire

      just choose one of the beats, they’ll announce it around the same time.

      Tracey Myers @TramyersCSN
      Chris Kuc @ChrisKuc
      Scott Powers @ESPNChiHawks
      Mark Lazerus @MarkLazerus

      • MattC86

        Recommendations are for you to drink heavily beforehand.

      • mightymikeD

        I’d stick with Myers or Powers (Powers by choice)

  • HarryBalzonya

    I made a voodoo doll of Kopitar and I’ve been hammering it in the nutsack for the past 2 hours so we should be ok

    • 60MinutesBaby60

      Made me lol w/ this. T/y.
      #ThatVodooThatYouDo

  • BestPredsForward

    Final Four for the 4th time in 6 years….mind-boggling.

    • Special Agent Dale Cooper

      yes…mind bottling

    • ahnfire

      we’re so lucky.

  • mightymikeD

    I mentioned this elsewhere, but Kopitar has also drawn nine penalties this postseason (second only to Dickface Perry’s 12).. which is, of course, an indication of just how well he’s playing and also yet another reason for the Hawks to be careful that they don’t start another march-to-the-box

    • MattC86

      The one thing that’s been mystifying about the Hawks this playoffs (besides the occasional Q decision) has been the penalization. Way, way too many penalties, especially against the Blues.

      With the Kings powerplay (shockingly) humming, they better not take too many. And with the Kings not being nearly as fleet of foot as the Wild, there is no need to do so.

      • mightymikeD

        The annoying thing, for me, was the number of stupid and unneccesary penalties taken (looking at you, Mr Shaw) You don’t mind the “good” ones too much,

        • YoAdrienne

          Most of them were stupid and unecessary. But, I recall at least one or two that were outright bizarre as to why they were even called. The one on Seabrook (?) in the last game comes to mind. I hope we don’t see that shit in this round. The officiating has been abominable at times, not to make excuses for the Hawks.

          • ahnfire

            well, it’s been awful for all of the playoffs, so let’s just hope it doesn’t get more & more walkom’d.

            I’d like the Hawks to play better this round, please.

          • birdhead

            Yeah, this. At the end of the day the refs are gonna ref and every team has grievances with them. It can be a drag in a game but it all evens out eventually and good teams suck it up and get past it tbh.

  • wowwowweewoo

    comments pretty low for a game day… did everybody defect to SCH due to the ban hammers?

    • ahnfire

      Many did, yes.

      • mightymikeD

        hey, lady, can you believe it’s just over six months since we hung out in Chicago? Time flies..

        • Special Agent Dale Cooper

          When were you in Chicago? I was there for last Thanksgiving…up until December 10th

          • mightymikeD

            I was there for a week just before Thanksgiving.. good times.. got to the UC twice for PHX and SJS

        • ahnfire

          damn, really?

      • GypsyDanger86

        I respect the hell out of the ToS for standing up to their blatant, egocentric stupidity. Reader and paying customer for life now.

      • CozBullsFan

        :/

    • Special Agent Dale Cooper

      Starting to get up there

    • Special Agent Dale Cooper

      50!

    • Sparky_The_Bard-barian

      17 seconds happened on this board. I’m staying put.

      • CozBullsFan

        Me too. I just can’t bring myself to move in the middle of the playoffs. Maybe after.

      • GypsyDanger86

        Yeah. And you’d think people would be pretty happy to let casual racism apologists leave without putting up much of a protest.

        • CozBullsFan

          First of all, neither of the two were apologists. I’ve know those two guys for years. You’re leaping to conclusions mate.

        • ahnfire

          Let’s not hash this out. Some people left, some people stayed.

          focus on hockey, please.

          • GypsyDanger86

            Ok.

    • YoAdrienne

      I haven’t defected, but am spending time at both places. Mostly because it’s been too quiet here. I’m going to stick here for the games, however.

  • Special Agent Dale Cooper

    Anyone see the hawks vs kings anagram rosters? hockeenight tweeted it i think..good stuff…Kip Crapshart is Patrick Sharp..LMFAO!

    • Bruno_the_Blackhawk_Cat

      Is this the one? Lard Nobgoblin

      Kings/Hawks anagrammed rosters. Kings are 1-0 in series where I do these! @theroyalhalf pic.twitter.com/g7UEk8RLzS— Kari Allender (@KariAllender) May 18, 2014

      • Special Agent Dale Cooper

        Yup! Hilarious! Didn’t know how to post the pic…thanks!

        • Bruno_the_Blackhawk_Cat

          I hunted down the tweet, but I’ve got a copy of the image file to be on the safe side.

          • Special Agent Dale Cooper

            I saved the pic on my phone…I’m still pissed at myself for not saving the caricature of Sharp and Williams in boxing gloves from last year when they got into that tussle

      • YoAdrienne

        He’ll always be Robin Dongballs to me.

        • ahnfire

          yea, I think the Hawks anagrams from the Wild series were better.

          Turdwin Snob & Taller jorts are kinda great though.

          • YoAdrienne

            Kip Crapshart is better, too.

        • Bruno_the_Blackhawk_Cat

          Somehow, he manages to provide plenty of fodder. Dongballs will be with us for a long time. Q will see to it, just to torment the ToS.

        • VanDorp’sMullet

          Always and forever.

  • Special Agent Dale Cooper

    Helene Elliott ‏@helenenothelen 1m
    Willie Mitchell is skating in warmups with Kings.

  • Special Agent Dale Cooper

    Anal Zitcreme…LMAO! Alec Martinez!

  • Sparky_The_Bard-barian

    So no division winners are left, and only one second place team.

    • GypsyDanger86

      It does seem to reinforce the idea that elite teams save something for the playoffs, doesn’t it?

      • Sparky_The_Bard-barian

        Or that experience (with success) matters in the playoffs.

        • GypsyDanger86

          Yep. It’s part of what’s going to make this series such a dogfight.

  • Special Agent Dale Cooper

    Mark Lazerus ‏@MarkLazerus 36s
    Willie Mitchell is IN the lineup, after all. Big for the #LAKings. #Blackhawks

  • GypsyDanger86

    Heading out to watch the game with IRL friends. Enjoy your day guys, I’ll probably post in the post-game review later. Go Hawks!

  • birdhead

    Puck drop apparently not until 20 minutes past the hour. As usual I am being oppressed by timezones and want to MURDER the UC. Would it kill them to start on time? jfc

    • ahnfire

      I think EVERY game will start 15-20 minutes past the hour, no matter what the NHL claims.

      • birdhead

        I feel like some arenas are worse than others. Some games definitely start as early as 10 past. 15 past I dislike but accept. 20 past is extravagant.

    • Special Agent Dale Cooper

      just saw that from LAzerus on twitter…wtf?

    • Bruno_the_Blackhawk_Cat

      Gotta make the advertisers happy. Selfish bastards.

    • CozBullsFan

      I know. It’s silly that they can’t put down the actual start time. I think they do it to get people to tune into NBC early.

  • Bruno_the_Blackhawk_Cat

    Showtime! Love that cocky SOB.

  • ahnfire