Game 13 Preview: Los Angeles at Chicago

This is the second of three meetings between Los Angeles and Chicago this season. On January 19, the Blackhawks defeated the Kings 5-2 at Staples Center in the season opener. After tonight, the two teams will meet at the United Center on Monday, March 25.

Lots more after the jump…

Chicago is yet to lose in regulation this season, posting an 11-0-3 record to begin the season and leading the NHL with 25 points. The Blackhawks goal differential is also the league’s best at plus-19 through 14 games. In its last five games, Chicago is 4-0-1 and has outscored its opponents 20-9, which includes a shootout goal for its opponents. They are tied with Los Angeles for the fewest home games played in the 2012-13 season; this will be their fifth home game. The Blackhawks are 3-0-1 at the United Center.

In Chicago’s most recent game, they defeated San Jose 4-1 at home on Friday behind two points each from Duncan Keith, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Marcus Kruger and Jamal Mayers. Ray Emery filled in for an injured Corey Crawford and stopped 27 of 28 shots in the win.

In the teams’ lone meeting this season, Marian Hossa appeared in his first game since suffering a violent concussion in the 2012 playoffs on a hit from Phoenix’s Raffi Torres and scored twice, adding an assist, four shots on goal and one block in 17:24 of ice time. The Blackhawks outshot the Kings 22-21 in the game.

Los Angeles Head Coach Darryl Sutter has not named a starter for today’s game. Jonathan Quick, who stopped 17 of 22 shots in the season opener, is 5-10-1 lifetime against Chicago in 16 games (15 starts), posting a 2.52 goals against average and .918 save percentage. Last season, Quick was 3-1-0 with two shutouts against the Blackhawks, stopping 117 of 121 shots for a .967 save percentage. He posted a 175:59 shutout streak against Chicago over four performances last season.

Jonathan Bernier has appeared in one game in his career against Chicago, a 3-1 loss at the United Center on October 27, 2010, stopping 25 of 28 shots.

Ray Emery has appeared in four career games (two starts) against the Kings, posting a 1-0-1 record and stopping 81 of 84 shots. He was in net in the teams’ last meeting at the United Center, stopping 27 of 29 shots through overtime in a 3-2 L.A. shootout win on March 11, 2012. Mike Richards potted the only goal in a six-round shootout that night.

Corey Crawford remains day-to-day with an upper body injury suffered in a collision with Anaheim’s Bobby Ryan in a 3-2 Ducks shootout win on Tuesday and will not dress. On the year, Crawford is 7-0-3 with a 1.65 GAA and .935 Sv%. Henrik Karlsson is expected to back up Emery this afternoon.

Sunday’s game is the third game of a season-long seven-game homestand for the Blackhawks, who are 1-0-1 in the stretch thus far. The Kings are playing their final game of a six-game stretch against Central Division competition and are 3-2-0 thus far. L.A. is 3-3-1 overall against the Central Division this season.

Rankings and Statistics:
Goals/Game: LAK – 27 / 2.25; CHI – t-2 / 3.36
Goals Against/Game: LAK – t-16 / 2.67; CHI – 2 / 1.86
Power Play: LAK – 27 / 12.5%; CHI – 13 / 18.3%
Penalty Kill: LAK – 17 / 81.1%; CHI – 2 / 92.2%
Shots/Game: LAK – t-13 / 29.4; CHI – 15 / 29.2
Shots Against/Game: LAK – 2 / 23.9; CHI – 12 / 27.9
Faceoffs: LAK – t-21 / 48.8%; CHI – 13 / 50.2%

Projected Lines – Los Angeles

Simon Gagne – Anze Kopitar – Dustin Brown
Kyle Clifford – Jeff Carter – Justin Williams
Dwight King – Mike Richards – Jordan Nolan
Dustin Penner – Jarret Stoll – Trevor Lewis

Keaton Ellerby – Drew Doughty
Rob Scuderi – Slava Voynov
Jake Muzzin – Davis Drewiske

Jonathan Quick
Jonathan Bernier

Notes: The biggest question of the Kings’ lineup is whether the start goes to Jonathan Quick or Jonathan Bernier. After a “really good week” of practice, as described by Darryl Sutter, and Sutter’s comment “got to get them both sharp, simple,” I’m leaning slightly towards Quick, despite Bernier’s recent success. There is the possibility that Brad Richardson could draw into the lineup to match up with the Blackhawks’ speed down the wings, but after consecutive wins and effective forechecking by the Penner-Stoll-Lewis line, I’m not banking on any changes. Kyle Clifford drifted up and down the left wing slot in Friday’s win and could be interchanged with any of the left wingers, though he should still see most of his time with Carter and Williams. As always, line pairings are educated assessments and not definite alignments.

Projected Lines – Chicago

Brandon Saad – Jonathan Toews – Marian Hossa
Patrick Sharp – Dave Bolland – Patrick Kane
Bryan Bickell – Andrew Shaw – Viktor Stalberg
Jamal Mayers – Marcus Kruger – Michael Frolik

Duncan Keith – Brent Seabrook
Niklas Hjalmarsson – Johnny Oduya
Nick Leddy – Michal Rozsival

Ray Emery
Henrik Karlsson

Notes: Chicago’s fourth line combined for four points in the 4-1 win over San Jose on Friday. Brent Seabrook was credited with seven blocked shots in Chicago’s opening day win over Los Angeles. Winger Daniel Carcillo has resumed practicing after suffering a knee injury in the season opener but is not expected to play today. As always, line pairings are educated assessments and not definite alignments.

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