Are the Kings one win away from the Stanley Cup Final, or do they have three chances to win a game against the defending champs? Considering the pace at which they’ve advanced the puck, the rate at which their power play is clicking, and the statistical authority they’ve maintained since Game 3 against San Jose, the former is the more accurate outlook. But it’s a very tall task to emerge from the United Center with a win at any time of the year, and given the improvement of the Blackhawks’ five-on-five play in Game 4, the championship will embedded in their psyche and their dominance on home ice throughout the last two postseasons, it’s not a stretch to imagine that Los Angeles’ most difficult game to this point of the postseason lies directly in front of them.

492396931MW00014_Chicago_Bl

The Kings won Game 4 because they won the special teams battle. They killed a pair of penalties (really, a penalty and a half given Marian Hossa’s goaltender interference penalty during a Blackhawk power play), and when presented with opportunities to seize a first period lead, they did just that. A man advantage that ranked 28th in the league on January 30 cashed in on Jake Muzzin and Dustin Brown first period goals to push the needle of postseason power play success up to 26.7%. In case you missed it, Chicago entered this series with an NHL-leading 91.3% penalty killing rate.

492396931JO003_BHawks_Kings

The Kings have been very good in getting bodies and pucks to the front of the net, and all four non-empty net goals were aided by the presence of black jerseys in front of Corey Crawford. Jeff Carter had an important screen on Muzzin’s goal, Marian Gaborik paid the price for getting to the net to redirect Anze Kopitar’s pass after the Kings’ Selke candidate stripped the puck from the Blackhawks’ Norris candidate, and Justin Williams did a fine job to deflecting the puck towards Dustin Brown above the goalmouth as Los Angeles built up a three-nothing lead. Williams and King also provided screens on the Chicago goaltender during Drew Doughty’s second period strike. At some point, though, Crawford is going to have to make saves for his team. After an excellent first game, he has posted an .841 save percentage in Games 2 through 4. It’s tough to place more than one or two goals specifically on him, especially when Los Angeles’ power play is 5-for-10 over that span, but at this time he’s not making any game-breaking saves that absorb momentum for his team.

Chicago Blackhawks v Los Angeles Kings - Game Four

The Blackhawks are allowing too many pucks to get to Crawford, and only one shot was blocked by a Chicago forward in Game 4. In the two games at Staples Center, 83 of 105 Kings shot attempts were unblocked (79.0%), while 81 of 120 Blackhawks shot attempts were unblocked (67.5%). Los Angeles was excellent in using sticks and bodies to get in passing and shooting lanes, and the success the Kings have had in getting in front of attempts while getting their own attempts through correlates with their profound special teams advantage in this series.

492396931MW00066_Chicago_Bl

Rules for Blog Commenting
  • - No profanity, slurs or other offensive language. Replacing letters with symbols does not turn expletives into non-expletives.
  • - Personal attacks against other blog commenters, and/or blatant attempts to antagonize other commenters, are not tolerated. Respectful disagreement is encouraged. Posts that continually express the same singular opinion will be deleted.
  • - Comments that incite political, religious or similar debates will be deleted.
  • - Please do not discuss, or post links to, websites that illegally stream NHL games.
  • - Posting under multiple user names is not allowed. Do not type in all caps. All violations are subject to comment deletion and/or banning of commenters, per the discretion of the blog administrator.
Alec martinez

#27 | 6′ 1″ | 210 lb | Age: 29

Born: July 26, 1987
Birthplace: Rochester Hills, MI, USA
Position: D
Handedness: Left

Bio

Bio: Martinez was drafted by the LA Kings in the 2007 Draft, while playing for Miami University. He has since become a two-time Stanley Cup champion and the 17th man in Stanley Cup playoff history to score the Cup-winning goal in overtime.

VIEW ALEC MARTINEZ POSTS
Anze Kopitar

#11 | 6′ 3″ | 224 lb | Age: 29

Born: August 24, 1987
Birthplace: Jesenice, SVN
Position: C
Handedness: Left

Bio

As the 11th overall pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, Kopitar became the first Slovenian to play in the NHL. Kopitar has spent his entire NHL career with the Kings, and following the 2015–16 season, was named the Kings’ captain. Noted for both his offensive and defensive play, Kopitar was awarded the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward in the NHL in 2016.

VIEW ANZE KOPITAR POSTS
Drew Doughty

#8 | 6′ 1″ | 195 lb | Age: 26

Born: December 8, 1989
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: D
Handedness: Right

Bio

Bio: Doughty is a Canadian defenceman who was selected second overall by the Kings in the 2008 Draft. Doughty made his NHL debut in 2008 as an 18-year-old and was named to the All-Rookie Team. He is a two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Kings, a two-time Olympic gold medallist with the Canadian national team, and a Norris Trophy finalist.

VIEW DREW DOUGHTY POSTS
Tyler Toffoli

#73 | 6′ 1″ | 200 lb | Age: 24

Born: April 24, 1992
Birthplace: Scarborough, ON, CAN
Position: C
Handedness: Right

Bio

Toffoli is a Canadian professional ice hockey forward, drafted by the Kings in the second round of the 2010 Draft. Toffoli scored his first career NHL goal in his second game in a 4–0 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes in 2013. He was also named the 2012–13 AHL All-Rookie Team.
VIEW TYLER TOFFOLI POSTS

Jeff Carter

#77 | 6′ 4″ | 215 lb | Age: 31

Born: January 1, 1985
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: C
Handedness: Right

Bio

Carter began his hockey career playing in the Ontario Hockey League in Canada before joining the AHL and playing for the Philadelphia Flyers. He was then traded to the Colombus Blue jackets before joining the LA Kings in 2012, where he has since won two Stanley Cups with the Kings.

VIEW JEFF CARTER POSTS
Jonathan Quick

#32 | 6′ 1″ | 218 lb | Age: 30

Born: January 21, 1986
Birthplace: Milford, CT, USA
Position: G
Handedness: Left

Bio

Bio: Quick is the current goaltender for the LA Kings and was selected by Los Angeles at the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. Previously, Quick was a silver medalist with USA at the 2010 Winter Olympics. He’s won two Stanley Cup championships with the Kings, along with being the most recent goaltender to be awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs.

VIEW JONATHAN QUICK POSTS