KINGS (25-10-4) at BLACKHAWKS (27-7-7)
5:00PM PT, TV: NBC Sports Network; RADIO: AM 1150
CHICAGO STYLE: This will be the Kings’ second and final regular season visit to Chicago’s United Center this season. The Blackhawks will visit STAPLES Center for a date on February 3. The Kings fell 3-1 to Chicago on December 15, when the Blackhawks rallied for three first-period goals. Chicago is rolling with an outstanding 27-7-7 record which is good for 61 points. Can the Kings come out firing in the Windy City?
THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX: The Kings have had disciplinary issues as of late, and it’s been costing them dearly. Per Jon Rosen of LAKI, only the Ottawa Senators and Philadelphia Flyers have taken more minor penalties than the Kings’ 174 this season. The Chicago Blackhawks come into tonight's date with the NHL’s third-best power play unit, holding a prolific 24.8% success rate. For the Kings to have a shot at muffling Chicago’s offense tonight, they’re going to have to keep them from working with man-advantage opportunities.
OFFENSE VS. DEFENSE: Tonight’s a match-up of the league’s most powerful offense and the league’s stingiest defense. The Blackhawks are first overall in scoring, tallying 3.73 goals per game. The Kings are first overall in shutting down the opposition’s offense, allowing just 1.97 goals per game. Can the Kings keep Chicago’s lethal offense at bay tonight?
UNITED FIX: Throughout the past two seasons, including the playoffs, the Kings have struggled mightily when playing at Chicago’s United Center – going 1-4-1 in their past six contests dating back to February 17, 2013. The Kings only win in that span came on March 25, 2013, when Dustin Brown buried the game-winner with 1:27 left in regulation to give the Kings a 5-4 upper hand after 60 minutes.
SEVEN IN ELEVEN: Both the Kings (7-3-0) and Blackhawks (7-1-2) come into tonight’s contest with seven wins in their previous 10 games. The Kings have lost two straight, Chicago is 2-0-1 in their previous three, and they have scored a combined 17 goals in those games. Can the Kings snap their two-game skid and keep the Blackhawks to seven in their past 11?
GOTTA RATTLE RAANTA: Antti Raanta has been the go-to-guy in the crease for the Blackhawks ever since Corey Crawford went down with a lower-body injury against the Florida Panthers on December 8. Raanta is 7-1-2 since Crawford has been sidelined, and is 9-1-3 overall with a .906 SV% and a 2.38 GAA. Antti Raanta, signed as a free-agent over the summer out of Finland, stopped 21 of 22 Kings shots on December 15, only surrendering a goal to Alec Martinez with 3:56 remaining in Chicago’s 3-1 win.
31 IN ILLINOIS: Expect Martin Jones to get the call for the Kings tonight. Jones, 8-1-0 with a .953 SV% and a 1.31 GAA, hasn’t seen live action since December 23 – when he suffered his first-career NHL loss to the Dallas Stars, allowing four goals on 23 shots. If anything, he’s a key tool for Darryl Sutter to use against the NHL’s top offense – a goaltender they’ve never seen before, and one that has been superb since making the jump from the AHL.
WE’RE DOING IT LIVE: Catch KINGS LIVE at 4:30PM on FOX SPORTS WEST, followed with Bob and Jim on the live play-by-play call on scene at United Center for puck-drop at 5:00.
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