After they lost to the St. Louis Blues, the Chicago Blackhawks were visibly frustrated at once again, being unable to solve their division rivals. However, this being the NHL, they had no time to sit around and feel sorry for themselves. The next game is against the Los Angeles Kings, another familiar face. The Kings are a contender for the Pacific Division and potentially the Stanley Cup with the best defense in the league. After giving up two-goal leads against the Blues, the Hawks need to look at the Kings as a punching bag to take out their frustration on.
The Blackhawks will need to come out swinging and stay swinging to upset Kings rookie goaltender Martin Jones, who is filling in for the injured potential Team USA Olympic starter Jonathan Quick. Jones currently has an 8-1-0 record and three shutouts. However, it’s likely that Ben Scrivens will get the call in net. Still, the Hawks have plenty of firepower to solve either Scrivens or Jones.
Part of that is Patrick Kane, who currently has a 14-game points streak after a goal and an assist on Saturday night. Sadly, this has not translated to his shootouts, which cost the Hawks on Saturday night. Kane is going to have to continue his hot streak, which should be easy for him, since he’s having the best year of his career. Still, it might be a good idea to put him and Jonathan Toews back on the same line along with Patrick Sharp or Kris Versteeg to test things out.
But there is also the Blackhawks defense that needs to solidify. The defensive pairings of Brent Seabrook with Duncan Keith, Niklas Hjalmarsson with Johnny Oduya and Nick Leddy with… whoever he’s paired up with for that game (whether it be Michal Rozsival, Michael Kostka or Sheldon Brookbank) are working out rather well. It’s the fact that they tend to let easy goals in too often that needs to change.
In order to stay focused on the task ahead, the Hawks must beat the Kings and they must do it convincingly. It does not have to be a 7-1 game, but a game where the Hawks control all areas of play and silence the likes of Anze Kopitar and Mike Richards while making either Scrivens or Jones’ night miserable. It’s the best thing they can do right now. After all, they’re especially good at responding to losses, so this one might be one of those response games. Better get ready. This should be a good one.