NHL Game Preview: Los Angeles Kings at Chicago Blackhawks

Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

Remember when the Chicago Blackhawks first played the Los Angeles Kings back in January? The Blackhawks scored the league’s first goal of the season (courtesy of Patrick Kane), won the game and pretty much wrecked the Kings’ banner raising celebration.

How about the second game they played back in February? It was the third game of the Blackhawks long-awaited home stand, and they would’ve shut them out if Mike Richards would’ve refrained from scoring. The Kings became another stepping stone on their path to NHL history.

Tonight’s game will be their last meeting of the season, and once again it’s at the Madhouse on Madison. A few things have changed since they last met: the Blackhawks’s point streak was snapped after 24 games, and the Kings have been unsteady in their wins. They’re currently on a three-game losing streak that includes shutouts in their last two games. As for the Blackhawks, they lost to the Anaheim Ducks but took four days to rest after a week-long road trip.

One thing that could go in the Kings’ favor is the fact that the Blackhawks are down two players. Patrick Sharp is still out with a shoulder injury but is close to returning, according to coach Joel Quenneville. Marian Hossa has not played since last week after being injured during their game with the Colorado Avalanche. Kane has double-shifted in Hossa’s absence and could still do so against the Kings. He could also be relieved of his doubled ice time with Michael Frolik taking Hossa’s place on the top line.

Corey Crawford, with his 1.86 goals-against average and .926 save percentage, will be in net for the Blackhawks. If the Kings put Jonathan Quick in net, they’ll do so knowing that he’s allowed eight goals in their two meetings. Even though Jonathan Bernier has better numbers than Quick in fewer games, he’s been untested against the Blackhawks and probably would not be a wise choice.

Yes, it’s another meeting of past and future Stanley Cup Champions. So far, the old ones have spanked the reigning ones. If the Kings don’t channel their 2012 playoff mojo, they’ll leave Chicago with another loss and their heads hung in shame.

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