CHICAGO -- Every team talks about how winning in the Stanley Cup Playoffs comes down to getting pucks and bodies to the net, fighting through traffic to score so-called dirty goals off rebounds. The Chicago Blackhawks are no different, but their challenge in the Western Conference Final is.
The Los Angeles Kings are one of the best teams in the NHL at keeping bodies away from their net. It starts with goalie Jonathan Quick, who is so aggressive and challenging when he plays above the blue paint, precisely the position Chicago will want to occupy starting with Game 1 Saturday at United Center (5 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN, RDS). The Kings also are one of the better teams at boxing out in front of Quick.
For the Blackhawks to win positional battles in front of the crease, to own the area Quick wants for himself, they have to be the first ones to get there. It's critical against Quick, who is the best goalie going in the playoffs with a 1.50 goals-against average and .948 save percentage. And it's arguably the most important piece of ice for the Blackhawks if they want to win the series.
"You like to get early position there and hopefully you can keep him [Quick] from getting how far he gets out there," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said Saturday morning. "They do box out. Detroit did a lot of that as well. There's got to be a willingness to fight through that traffic and the physicality, we can't be deterred by it at all. Getting in front of him is going to be key."