Western Conference final predication

- May 17th, 2014

No need for pre-amble, it’s on to the Western Conference final.

Chicago Blackhawks (46-21-15, 107 points, third in Central Division) vs Los Angeles Kings (46-28-87, 100 points, third in Pacific Division)

NUMBERS GAME: The Blackhawks have won nine of the past 11 games dating back to the 2012-13 regular season and swept the three meetings this season, outscoring the Kings 9-4. The Blackhawks also eliminated the Kings in the Western Conference final last spring. The only other playoff meeting was in 1974, when the Blackhawks eliminated them in five games. This is the third consecutive trip to the conference final for the Kings, who captured the Stanley Cup in 2012.

THE SKINNY: The Kings have been able to stave off elimination in six consecutive games this post-season after falling behind 3-0 in the opening round against the San Jose Sharks. Not sure if they have nine lives in these playoffs, but we could find out shortly. Captain Jonathan Toews has four game-winners among his five goals and 10 points in the playoffs while Patrick Kane has three of his own (Brandon Saad has the other). This dynamic duo has been at the core of the Blackhawks’ championship runs in 2010 and 2013 and are once again showing the way this spring. After a lacklustre regular season, Bryan Bickell has six goals and nine points in 12 playoff games, playing a power-forward game. Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith have combined for 19 points and are playing heavy minutes, while Niklas Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya have done  great job in a shutdown role. Although he’s rarely viewed as an upper-echelon netminder, Corey Crawford is making a strong case to joining that group, raising his level and stealing games. Here’s what Toews had to say about Crawford on Friday (thanks to Tracey Meyers of CSN Chicago for sending along the quotes): “Even him being a huge part of our Stanley cup winning team last year, it doesn’t seem like it’s getting easier for him. But he keeps rising to challenges, picking his game up and improving in so many ways, specially mentally, to be able to handle that pressure. I feel like after every game I’m answering questions about him and I joke I’m running out of things to say. But that pretty much sums it up right there with the way he’s matured as a player,” said Toews. As for the Kings, Justin Williams continued his Game 7 production by getting the lamp-lighter against the Anaeheim Ducks, while Jeff Carter and Mike Richards also had big efforts to help bring an end to Teemu Selanne’s career. Anze Kopitar is getting his due as a two-way player as a Selke finalist, while Marian Gaborik makes the Kings more dynamic than they were last spring, while Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson are coming into their own. The Kings play a solid defesnive game and must get more offence from Drew Doughty if they want to advance. Jonathan Quick has been up-and-down but he’ll help keep this series tight. However, I just can’t bet against Toews and Kane. Take the Blackhawks in six games.

Categories: Hockey

Subscribe to the post

Leave a comment

 characters available