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Posted On Thursday, 06.05.2014 / 7:11 PM

By Corey Masisak - Staff Writer / - 2014 Stanley Cup Final blog

Line-shuffling helped Kings rally for Game 1 victory

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Los Angeles Kings coach Darryl Sutter is not shy about taking away ice time from any of his players when they aren't playing at the standard he demands, but the way he jumbled his forward lines in Game 1 of the 2014 Stanley Cup Final was a bit of an anomaly in this postseason.

Part of it was the timing. Sutter started his line-shuffling before the first period was over, right after the New York Rangers took a two-goal lead.

Part of it was the fact it was a full four-line shake-up. When Sutter changed things earlier this postseason, it often was one or two tweaks. This was all four centers moving to a different line.

The first shift after Carl Hagelin's shorthanded goal at 15:03 of the first period was still part of a power play. Los Angeles' first group at even strength was Jarret Stoll, usually the No. 3 center, with Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli, who typically play with Jeff Carter.

Posted On Tuesday, 06.03.2014 / 8:55 PM

By Corey Masisak - Staff Writer / - 2014 Stanley Cup Final blog

Rangers' Carcillo thrilled suspension was reduced

LOS ANGELES -- New York Rangers forward Daniel Carcillo thought his season might be over, but having his suspension reduced by the NHL has offered him hope he might have the chance to play in the Stanley Cup Final against the team that traded him five months ago, the Los Angeles Kings.

Carcillo was suspended 10 games for a violation of rule 40.3 for "deliberately applying physical force to an official" for an incident during Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Montreal Canadiens (May 22).

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman heard Carcillo's appeal Friday and on Tuesday determined the incident should be reclassified as a violation of rule 40.4 for "physical force to an official for the sole purpose of getting free of such official during or immediately following an altercation." Bettman reduced the suspension to six games.

Posted On Wednesday, 05.28.2014 / 2:22 PM

By Corey Masisak - Staff Writer / - Blackhawks-Kings series blog

Kings have as much pressure on them as Blackhawks

CHICAGO -- A couple members of the Chicago Blackhawks told the media Wednesday that the pressure is on the Los Angeles Kings in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS) to eliminate the defending Stanley Cup champions and not let them back in the series.

It's a typical rallying cry for a team behind in a series, a way for players to force themselves to be less nervous or less focused on the potential end of their season being near. The Blackhawks are down 3-1 in the best-of-7 series, so playing up the "don't let us back in this" angle probably is a good strategy in a typical situation.

This situation might not be typical, though. The Blackhawks are used to being the team in a series with the championship "mojo" and experience and all of that unquantifiable stuff players tend to lean on at this time of year.

The Kings are just like the Blackhawks, having been to three straight conference finals and having won the Stanley Cup in 2012.

"Both teams are probably used to pressure," Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. "That's how you get to the 100-game mark, or close to the 100-game mark. It's what your players want and what they thrive on. Obviously I don't think there is more on one team or the other."

Posted On Sunday, 05.25.2014 / 7:46 PM

By Corey Masisak - Staff Writer / - Blackhawks-Kings series blog

Carter thriving in the middle for Kings

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Los Angeles Kings forward Jeff Carter has shifted back and forth from center to the wing a lot in his career.

At one point, he and current teammate Mike Richards were once two franchise centers for the Philadelphia Flyers, but since then he's played each position for the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Los Angeles Kings and for Canada in international competitions.

Carter has played more on the wing for the Kings, but a shift to the middle along with being flanked by rookies Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson has helped Carter become the second-leading scorer in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs, behind teammate Anze Kopitar.

Posted On Thursday, 05.22.2014 / 5:58 PM

By Corey Masisak - Staff Writer / - Blackhawks-Kings series blog

Blackhawks need penalty-kill success in Game 3

CHICAGO -- The past two Stanley Cup champions are facing each other in the Western Conference Final, and one common trait between the 2012 Los Angeles Kings and the 2013 Chicago Blackhawks was strong work on the penalty kill.

The Kings erased 92.1 percent of opponents' power plays during their Cup run in 2012, and the Blackhawks were threatening to top that until the Boston Bruins got to their PK a bit in the Final last season. Chicago finished those playoffs at 90.8 percent.

That's part of why Game 2 of this Stanley Cup Playoff series Wednesday at United Center was so stunning. The game turned when the Kings scored on back-to-back power plays early in the third period of a 6-2 win that evened the best-of-7 series 1-1.

For Chicago coach Joel Quenneville, it wasn't a letdown by the penalty killers. It was a disappointing showing from those who put the Blackhawks in that situation.

Posted On Thursday, 05.22.2014 / 5:00 PM

By Corey Masisak - Staff Writer / - Blackhawks-Kings series blog

Blackhawks forward Shaw will be in Game 3 lineup

CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw will return to the lineup in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final against the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday at Staples Center (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, RDS), coach Joel Quenneville confirmed Thursday.

The best-of-7 Stanley Cup Playoff series is tied 1-1.

Shaw's return could help the Blackhawks in a couple of areas that were lacking in a 6-2 loss in Game 2. Quenneville said he has a pretty good idea of who will sit to make room for Shaw, who has missed the past seven games with a leg injury but wasn't offering up that information Thursday.

"It will be huge," Chicago forward Ben Smith said. "He's a guy that brings a lot of energy. His presence in the room, his presence on the ice, his physicality. His energy mostly is the biggest thing. Having him back would be nice."

Posted On Wednesday, 05.21.2014 / 2:12 PM

By Corey Masisak - Staff Writer / - Blackhawks-Kings series blog

Kings confident they can match Blackhawks in depth

CHICAGO -- Anze Kopitar is going to spend a lot of time playing against one of the best centers in the world during the Western Conference Final.

That's not a new development for the Los Angeles Kings center. He faced a combination of Joe Thornton and Logan Couture in the first round against the San Jose Sharks, then spent a lot of the second round matched up against Ryan Getlzaf of the Anaheim Ducks.

Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews is generally considered one of the two best players in the NHL, along with Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins, so it is a slight step up in competition, but Kopitar has seen plenty of world-class talent staring back at him in the faceoff circle during the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Chicago's top line of Toews, Marian Hossa and Bryan Bickell won that matchup against Kopitar, Marian Gaborik and Dustin Brown in Game 1, but for Kings coach Darryl Sutter, that's not something he's looking to fix heading into Game 2 at United Center on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN, RDS). The Kings trail the best-of-7 series 1-0.

"It's not that big a deal to us. I mean, [Kopitar] and [Gaborik] and [Brown], that's a good matchup for us," Sutter said. "I think everyone wants to see that. It's a pretty even matchup, I think. It's not that for us. It's after that."

Posted On Tuesday, 05.20.2014 / 4:58 PM

By Corey Masisak - Staff Writer / - Blackhawks-Kings series blog

Old friends Hossa, Gaborik vie for chance at Cup

CHICAGO -- There are towns in the United States and Canada the Stanley Cup has never visited, but the trophy is pretty much an unofficial citizen in Trencin, Slovakia.

Trencin is a city of less than 60,000 not far from the border with the Czech Republic. Five times in the past six summers, the Cup has paid a visit to Trencin, and there's a good chance it could be six in seven.

It is the town where Marian Hossa of the Chicago Blackhawks and Marian Gaborik of the Los Angeles Kings live in the offseason.

"We know each other when we were real young," Hossa said. "Obviously my brother grew up with Marian because they [are the] same age, three years younger than I am (35). When I was younger, I used to go watch their games when they play as young kids. Marian was always the one who was scoring goals. My brother was the passer. So I know him really when he was little kid.

"Now we [are] neighbors. We live on the same street. We hang out in the summer together. So obviously we got lots to talk about every time we see each other. Right now, came to the point where we not going to talk for two weeks. We try to do our business on the ice. When everything is over, we go back to friendship."

Posted On Sunday, 05.18.2014 / 8:03 PM

By Corey Masisak - Staff Writer / - Blackhawks-Kings series blog

Toffoli-Carter-Pearson line contributes again for Kings

CHICAGO -- The Los Angeles Kings had already survived two seven-game series against geographical rivals to reach Game 1 of the Western Conference Final at United Center. They also played a game less than 48 hours prior 2,000 miles away.

The young forwards on the second line certainly didn't look like they were tired Sunday in a 3-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks. Rookies Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli connected for the team's lone goal, and Toffoli nearly had another.

"Thought the line was good," Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. "Jeff [Carter], Tanner, Tyler. Obviously, they scored a big goal. Tyler's play, he was a good player for us last year against Chicago too. I'm sure there wasn't any intimidation coming into this building. Played with Jeff and [Dustin] Penner on a good line here last year."

Posted On Sunday, 05.18.2014 / 3:12 PM

By Corey Masisak - Staff Writer / - Blackhawks-Kings series blog

Mitchell returns to Kings' lineup for Game 1

CHICAGO -- Willie Mitchell will make a surprise return to the Los Angeles Kings' lineup for Game 1 of the Western Conference Final against the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday.

Mitchell has not played since Game 6 of the opening round against the San Jose Sharks because of a lower-body injury. He will replace Matt Greene in the lineup.

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Quote of the Day

We don't know how long Carey will be out, but for us, it's business as usual.

— Montreal Canadiens coach Michel Therrien on goaltender Carey Price, who is on injured reserve with a lower-body injury
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