NHL 2013 PLAYOFFS: ROUND 2 – CHICAGO vs LOS ANGELES

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CHICAGO V LA KINGS PLAYOFFS 2013 ROUND 3

SERIES BEGAN: SATURDAY JUNE 1st 2013

NEXT GAME: TUESDAY JUNE 4th @ 9PM ET (2AM GMT)

HOW WILL IT GO DOWN? Almost everything in this match-up points to Chicago being the favourite in this Western Conference-deciding series.  Almost.  They were by far the more dominant team during the regular season, scoring a ton more goals and preventing significantly less, were great both at home and on the road, and had higher scoring forwards, better performing defencemen and far better goaltending.  And yet, as with last year, there is just something about this Kings team that spells trouble.

Both teams went the distance in their Conference Semi-Final matchup, tempering the expectations somewhat for each of the victorious squads, but it’s a small sample size and they did ultimately win the day so cannot be considered any less than top teams.  Like the Eastern Final, this matchup sees two of the last four Stanley Cup champions getting set to duke it out.

Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa are leading the way for the Hawks offensively, with 14 and 13 points respectively, whilst Michal Handzus has also been on a bit of a roll lately.  On the blueline, Duncan Keith obviously leads the way but Brent Seabrook, as usual, has been underrated in his overall game.  Keith and Handsuz lead the team with a +7 rating through 14 games.

For the Kings, as expected they are doing things more by committee, with only Mike Richards having yet reached the double-digit mark in points, but 20 of 23 skaters with at least 1 game played have earned at least 1 point.  Justin Williams continues to be an outrageously underrated player, chipping in good offence along with strong possession skills.  Slava Voynov has enjoyed something of a coming-out party these playoffs, leading the team’s blueline with 4 goals and 9 points, including two game-winners.  He also leads the team with a +8 rating.

In net, Jonathan Quick has put his sub-par regular season behind him and has been on fire in the playoffs, posting a 0.940 SV% and 1.76 GAA through 15 games so far, and if the Kings make the Finals again he will be a strong candidate for a second consecutive MVP award.  Corey Crawford, however, has been just as good for Chicago, posting a 1.67 GAA and 0.938 SV% in 14 games, continuing his strong bounceback season.  Whatever issues these two teams have, it’s not with the goalies.

PREDICTION: The series is already 2 games old, with Chicago up 2-0 on LA, but I just have a niggling feeling about this LA team, and I know I’m not alone there.  The way they play can just choke the life out of a team, and let’s not forget that St Louis was up 2-0 on them in the first round.  If any team this year can make a comeback, it’s the Kings.  I think they’ll make a comeback, but fall just short – Blackhawks in 7 (and I would have said that before the series started!).

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