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Posted On Saturday, 06.08.2013 / 8:11 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Kings series blog

Richards returns to Kings lineup in Game 5

CHICAGO -- Center Mike Richards is back in the Los Angeles Kings' lineup for Game 5 of the Western Conference Final against the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday night after missing three games with a concussion.

Chicago leads the best-of-7 series 3-1 and can clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Final with a win.

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Posted On Saturday, 06.08.2013 / 2:24 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Kings series blog

Sutter calls Richards '50/50' to play in Game 5

CHICAGO -- Los Angeles Kings coach Darryl Sutter said "it's possible" center Mike Richards will play in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final against the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday at United Center (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, RDS). Richards has missed the past three games with a concussion.

The Blackhawks lead the best-of-7 series, 3-1.

"I'd say it's 50/50," Sutter said of Richards' chances of playing.

Richards took rushes on the fourth line between Jordan Nolan and Kyle Clifford during the morning skate Saturday. He declined a request to be interviewed in the dressing room afterward.

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Posted On Saturday, 06.08.2013 / 1:38 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Kings series blog

Keith happy to be back in Blackhawks lineup

CHICAGO -- After watching teammates scramble to fill in during a one-game suspension, Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith is excited to get back in the lineup.

The Blackhawks will try to close out the Los Angeles Kings in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final on Saturday at United Center (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, RDS). With his team leading the best-of-7 series, 3-1, Keith said he's eager to rejoin the fray.

"I'm looking forward to the game and know it's going to be the biggest game of the series. I want to play a good hockey game," said Keith, who was suspended for one game after hitting Kings forward Jeff Carter in the face with his stick in Game 3. "It's tough to watch. When you're playing every game and then all of a sudden you're watching on TV, it's just a different feeling altogether. I couldn't really tell you, to be honest, if we were playing good or bad in the first period [of Game 4] or not … or what was going on."

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Posted On Saturday, 06.08.2013 / 1:03 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Kings series blog

Richards skates with Kings' fourth line

CHICAGO -- Los Angeles Kings center Mike Richards was taking rushes with the fourth line Saturday morning at United Center, an indication that he may be in the lineup for the first time since he suffered a concussion in Game 1 of the Western Conference Final against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Game 5 is Saturday night (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, RDS). The Blackhawks lead the best-of-7 series, 3-1.

On Friday, Kings coach Darryl Sutter said Richards was "doubtful at best" for Game 5, but he was centering the fourth line between Jordan Nolan and Kyle Clifford during the morning skate. Nolan has gone pointless in the postseason and has not played since Game 6 of the Kings' second-round series against the San Jose Sharks.

Richards was injured when he was hit behind the goal line late in Game 1 by Chicago center Dave Bolland. He skated in between Games 3 and 4, but was not on the ice for the morning skate prior to Game 4 at Staples Center on Thursday. The Kings did not practice Friday.

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Posted On Friday, 06.07.2013 / 9:16 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Kings series blog

Kings center Richards 'doubtful at best' for Game 5

CHICAGO -- Los Angeles Kings center Mike Richards (concussion) made the trip here for Game 5 of the Western Conference Final against the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, RDS), but it's likely he'll miss his fourth straight game.

"Honestly, I couldn't tell you," Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. "It is doubtful at best."

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Posted On Friday, 06.07.2013 / 8:55 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Kings series blog

Kings need some goals from power play

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks have been brilliant when the opponent has more players on the ice.

That statement is beyond repute at this point in 2012-13. The Blackhawks were third in the NHL in penalty-killing proficiency during the regular season, and they've turned up their PK a few more notches in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Through 16 games, the Blackhawks have erased 54 of 56 power plays (96.4 percent). Chicago's PK prowess is a big reason the Blackhawks can return to the Stanley Cup Final by beating the Los Angeles Kings at United Center in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, RDS).

The Kings have managed one power-play goal in four games -- and that one was a meaningless score after the outcome of Game 2 had long since been decided.

"I think they do an excellent job of blocking shots. I mean, that's plain and simple," Kings forward Justin Williams said Friday. "They get their bodies in shot lanes and you can sometimes fake that you're in the shot lanes when you're actually not, but they're in them every time. They're manning-up and getting behind them.

"We're getting a lot of zone time on the PP. I think we've only had one goal to come of it. We haven't scored a big power-play goal yet. Getting through the first layer is important because we've had a lot of possession time, a lot of zone time, but just getting it through their blockers is key."

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Posted On Friday, 06.07.2013 / 7:14 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Kings series blog

Blackhawks seek answers for power-play struggles

CHICAGO -- It was a problem area for much of the regular season and hasn't really improved from a statistical standpoint for the Chicago Blackhawks during the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Chicago's power play continues to struggle -- to put it mildly. After going 0-for-4 in a 3-2 victory against the Los Angeles Kings in Game 4 of the Western Conference Final on Thursday at Staples Center, the Blackhawks are 1-for-12 in this best-of-7 series (8.3 percent).

They are 7-for-49 (14.3 percent) in the postseason, and 1-for-22 (4.6 percent) in power plays on the road in the playoffs.

"You look at maybe [Game 4] and we trailed for at least half the game there until we tied it up in the second [at even strength]," Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said Friday. "We feel if you take advantage of a few of your power play chances there, maybe you could take the lead and take a little more control of the game and distance yourself a little bit from the other team."

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Posted On Thursday, 06.06.2013 / 9:16 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Kings series blog

Kings center Richards out for Game 4

LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles Kings center Mike Richards is not playing in in Game 4 of the Western Conference Final against the Chicago Blackhawks (NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

Richards did not take part in the team's morning skate at Staples Center on Thursday, and coach Darryl Sutter said he would not play.

Chicago leads the best-of-7 series, 2-1.

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Posted On Thursday, 06.06.2013 / 8:47 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Kings series blog

Hjalmarsson moves up to top defense pair for Chicago

LOS ANGELES -- Niklas Hjalmarsson will move into Duncan Keith's spot on the top defense pairing for the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 4 of the Western Conference Final against the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday at Staples Center (NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

Keith, the 2010 Norris Trophy winner, is suspended for the game because of a high-sticking infraction on Kings center Jeff Carter in the second period of Game 3. Based on the pregame warmup line rushes, Hjalmarsson will skate with Brent Seabrook on the top pairing.

Johnny Oduya and Michal Rozsival, who were the team's third pairing at the start of the postseason, will be the second duo. Oduya moved to the second pair for Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals when Chicago coach Joel Quenneville reunited Keith and Seabrook on the top pair against the Detroit Red Wings.

Nick Leddy, who dropped from the second pair to the third for Game 5 against the Red Wings and has seen his ice time reduced in the second half of this postseason run, will skate with Sheldon Brookbank, who is making his 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs debut in place of Keith.

Based on warmups, the Kings' lineup will remain the same from Game 3. Center Mike Richards remains out with a concussion.

Here is Chicago's projected lineup for Game 4:

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Posted On Thursday, 06.06.2013 / 5:59 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Kings series blog

Blackhawks ready for Game 4 without Keith

BEVERLEY HILLS, Calif. -- When the Chicago Blackhawks dropped three of the first four games in the Western Conference Semifinals, it was the first dose of adversity for a team that stormed through a shortened regular season as the NHL's top team.

Now the Blackhawks will face another test in Game 4 of the Western Conference Final on Thursday (9 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS). Chicago will be without top defenseman Duncan Keith, who was suspended for one game for high-sticking Los Angeles Kings forward Jeff Carter in Game 3.

"Big loss for us," Chicago defenseman Michal Rozsival said Thursday. "But it is what it is. We all have to go out and step up our game and be a little better. We'll see what the defensive pairing will be for tonight. That's a big loss, but you have to deal with it. That's the way it is."

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Posted On Thursday, 06.06.2013 / 3:18 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Kings series blog

Stoll staying on Kings' top line for Game 4

LOS ANGELES -- Jarret Stoll was good enough as the Los Angeles Kings' top-line center in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final that he will find himself again in between Dustin Brown and Justin Williams at the start of Game 4 Thursday at Staples Center against the Chicago Blackhawks (9 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

Stoll played 28 shifts totaling more than 17 minutes and was a plus-1 with two shots on goal in the Kings' 3-1 victory in Game 3 on Tuesday. It was the most he played and the most effective he's been in three games since returning from a concussion that cost him the final six games of the conference semifinals against the San Jose Sharks.

"That's the best I felt since I came back for sure," Stoll said. "I definitely wasn't happy with my Game 2 and a lot happier with my Game 3, but we know we have to be even better than we were in Game 3 to get a win here in Game 4."

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Posted On Thursday, 06.06.2013 / 2:31 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Kings series blog

Kings won't change plan because Keith isn't playing

LOS ANGELES -- Though it may be a relief for the Los Angeles Kings to know they don't have to deal with Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith in Game 4 of the Western Conference Final on Thursday, they said nothing changes for them despite the fact the Blackhawks won't have their top blueliner.

The NHL's Department of Player Safety suspended Keith for Game 4 for high-sticking Kings forward  Jeff Carter during Game 3 on Tuesday. Sheldon Brookbank will play in Keith's place when the Blackhawks attempt to take a 3-1 lead in the best-of-7 series at Staples Center (9 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

"Spend time in their zone -- that's our game, so really do nothing different," Kings defenseman Matt Greene said when asked what his team can do to take advantage of Keith being out. "Just get pucks behind their D no matter who is playing, whether it's Keith or Brookbank, if that's who they're tossing in there. You've gotta be ready and we've gotta establish our game, which is a grinding game, offensive-zone-time game, and that's it."


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Posted On Thursday, 06.06.2013 / 2:13 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Kings series blog

Toffoli made magazine cover in unusual way

LOS ANGELES -- Tyler Toffoli first got a text message from his father, Rob. Then the texts came in from his friends.

Toffoli made news.

No, this wasn't after a big goal or a big play. The Los Angeles Kings forward was on a regional cover of this week's Sports Illustrated -- upside down, to be exact, on the receiving end of a hit by Marcus Kruger of the Chicago Blackhawks.

Yes, Toffoli has been posterized.

"I think my dad maybe texted me and everyone else texted me so it was kind of funny," Toffoli said after the morning skate Thursday. "It's not a big deal. It's hockey. You get hit. It's a pretty funny picture, to be honest."

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Posted On Wednesday, 06.05.2013 / 3:42 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Kings series blog

Richards skates with Kings' extra players

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Los Angeles Kings center Mike Richards skated Wednesday at the team's practice facility after sitting out the past two games of the Western Conference Final against the Chicago Blackhawks with an upper-body injury that is believed to be a concussion.

Richards skated with all the players who were scratched for Game 3 on Tuesday plus backup goalie Jonathan Bernier.

Game 4 is set for Thursday at Staples Center (9 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS). Chicago leads the best-of-7 series, 2-1.

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Posted On Wednesday, 06.05.2013 / 1:13 AM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Kings series blog

Quick's save on Bickell could be a turning point

LOS ANGELES – It was a game saving save and perhaps a series-changing save, and it also meant much more to the Los Angeles Kings.

Late in the third period with a 2-1 lead to protect, Chicago Blackhawks forward Bryan Bickell found himself with the puck on his stick and a gaping chance to tie the score and send Game 3 of the Western Conference Final into overtime.

Kings goalie Jonathan Quick somehow got his right leg down and his blocker up to stop the shot. The sellout crowd might still be digesting it and enjoying it on replay. Quick did not have that benefit.

"On the initial shot, I kind of got bumped a little and spun a little off angle, so I wasn't really able to put the rebound where I wanted to, so it ends up on his stick," Quick said. "You're just trying to cover net and get fortunate and it hits your blocker. Obviously, it was a big save at the time. You got to get lucky sometimes. It was good."

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Posted On Tuesday, 06.04.2013 / 9:56 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Kings series blog

Kings without Richards again in Game 3

LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles Kings center Mike Richards is not playing in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final against the Chicago Blackhawks (NBCSN, TSN, RDS).

Richards, who is the Kings' leading scorer in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with 10 points, did not take part in the morning skate at Staples Center.

"Yes, absolutely," Los Angeles coach Darryl Sutter said when he was asked if Richards definitely is out. "He's done a little bit every day but it's the same -- no progress."

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Posted On Tuesday, 06.04.2013 / 8:49 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Kings series blog

Kings move Kopitar from first to third line

LOS ANGELES -- Anze Kopitar's struggles have cost him his job as the Los Angeles Kings' No. 1 center.

Kopitar, who two goals and five assists through 15 games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, began Game 3 against the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference Final as the Kings' third-line center between Dwight King and Trevor Lewis. Jarret Stoll traded places with Kopitar and started Game 3 skating in between Justin Williams and Dustin Brown.

Stoll has played the past two games after missing six in a row with a concussion. Kopitar has no points in the conference final.

The Blackhawks lead the best-of-7 series, 2-0.


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Posted On Tuesday, 06.04.2013 / 4:44 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Kings series blog

With early start time, Blackhawks skip morning skate

BEVERLEY HILLS, Calif. -- Hockey teams, and the players on them, are creatures of habit.

Players like to keep the same daily routine whenever possible. So Game 3 of the Western Conference Final will be a bit of a unique situation for the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Blackhawks played in games on back-to-back days Saturday and Sunday. They did not practice Monday, because almost all teams do not after back-to-backs to conserve energy and heal.

But with Game 3 against the Los Angeles Kings being a 6 p.m. local time start, the Blackhawks had a decision to make: Stick with their normal routine for 6 p.m. starts and not having a morning skate, or go on the ice at an abnormal time on a game day.

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said it would be the former, so the Blackhawks will not go on the ice between Games 2 and 3, other than the pregame warm-up skate.

"Personally, I kind of like it," Chicago defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson said. "It's nice. It's been a lot of hockey here. Back-to-back, obviously, and travel days. Personally, I don't mind it. Just try to be mentally ready when the puck drops. That's what it's all about at this point, I think."

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Posted On Tuesday, 06.04.2013 / 3:23 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Kings series blog

Sutter expects more from Kings in Game 3

LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles Kings coach Darryl Sutter decided to take it easy on center Jarret Stoll after Game 2 of the Western Conference Final against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Sutter already knew Stoll was being hard enough on himself after posting a minus-2 rating in the 4-2 loss at United Center, his second game back after missing six in a row with a concussion.

"I think, you know him, he was disappointed in himself more than I was in him, so I think you'll see a much better Jarret [Tuesday night]," Sutter said in advance of Game 3 at Staples Center (9 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN, RDS), where the Kings have won 14 games in a row.

"It's not easy," Sutter continued. "He's coming back from a concussion, bottom line. He was pretty much knocked out. To come back in and be 100 percent confident, I don't think it's that easy. He expects a lot of himself and I think he'll do a lot better [Tuesday night]."

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Posted On Sunday, 06.02.2013 / 6:10 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Kings series blog

Kings remain confident heading into Game 2

CHICAGO – The Los Angeles Kings lost their first two games of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs on the road against the St. Louis Blues, but still won that Western Conference Quarterfinals series in six games.

After dropping Game 1 of the Western Conference Final in a 2-1 loss against the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday night at United Center, the defending Stanley Cup champions are again faced with a possible 0-2 hole should they lose the second half of back-to-back contests in Game 2 on Sunday (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS).

Don’t, however, ask Kings coach Darryl Sutter if his team’s first-round experience might be something to draw confidence from if they’re flying home again down two games to none.


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Posted On Sunday, 06.02.2013 / 1:31 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Kings series blog

Blackhawks' Bickell having breakout postseason

CHICAGO -- Bryan Bickell was a popular interview subject Sunday morning at United Center.

Bickell has been a breakout star for the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs, scoring five goals in the first two rounds and being a physical force on a new-look top line in Game 1 of the Western Conference Final.

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said Sunday before Game 2 against the Los Angeles Kings he could see this type of player in Bickell a long time ago -- during his first extended time with the team during the 2009-10 season.

"We played him with [Jonathan] Toews and [Patrick Kane] that year," Quenneville said. "We gave him a little bit more opportunity with the Nashville series, played a little bit. There's ability there. You like his size, his speed. He can shoot and be physical. He's got all the elements that you look for in a power forward. Putting it all together has been a process."

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Posted On Saturday, 06.01.2013 / 10:29 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Kings series blog

Blackhawks' Hossa says hello to friends back home

CHICAGO Marian Hossa had quite the night Saturday at United Center.

The Slovakian star forward scored what turned out to be the game-winning goal for the Chicago Blackhawks in a 2-1 victory against the Los Angeles Kings in Game 1 of the Western Conference Final -- but he also did something noteworthy before the game started.

As the Blackhawks’ starting five skaters lined up on the blue line during the singing of the national anthem, Hossa looked into a TV camera that panned across them and gave a wink. It was shown live on the scoreboard’s big screen, but the intended targets for it were located much farther away.

“Lots of my friends back home were watching at the bar,” Hossa said. “I was just giving them some signal. They called me before the game, said they were going to watch. Hopefully they got the signal.”

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Posted On Saturday, 06.01.2013 / 10:07 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Kings series blog

Kings' Stoll glad to be back for Game 1

CHICAGO -- Los Angeles Kings center Jarret Stoll already felt confident he was healthy enough to play in Game 1 of the Western Conference Final, but it didn't bother him that roughly five minutes into the game he took a hard hit in the corner from Chicago Blackhawks center Andrew Shaw.

Stoll, who missed the final six games of the conference semifinals with a concussion, popped right back up and skated back into the play. He played 15:14 in his return after missing six games after being injured by a high hit from San Jose Sharks forward Raffi Torres.

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Posted On Saturday, 06.01.2013 / 9:31 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Kings series blog

Bolland helps Blackhawks finish off Game 1

CHICAGO -- Dave Bolland laid a big hit on Los Angeles Kings center Mike Richards near the end of Game 1 of the Western Conference Final, then drew a penalty at the other end that effectively sealed a victory for the Chicago Blackhawks.

Richards carried the puck behind the Chicago net with his team down a goal, then tried to stop and come back towards the goal line to the left of goalie Corey Crawford. Instead, Bolland connected with a big hit that Richards was slow to get up from.

The Blackhawks went the other way with the puck, and eventually Bolland ended up with it. Los Angeles forward Jeff Carter tripped Bolland with 1:41 left in regulation, and the Blackhawks were able to play keep-away for most of the final 101 seconds to run the clock out for a 2-1 victory.
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Posted On Saturday, 06.01.2013 / 4:51 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Kings series blog

Stoll back in Kings lineup for Game 1

CHICAGO -- Los Angeles Kings center Jarret Stoll returned to the lineup for Game 1 of the Western Conference Final against the Chicago Blackhawks after sitting out the final six games of the conference semifinals.

Stoll was injured in Game 1 against the San Jose Sharks when he was hit high by Raffi Torres, who was suspended for the duration of that series.

Stoll took line rushes in pregame warmups as the third-line center between Dwight King and Trevor Lewis. Tyler Toffoli, who played in Game 7 against the Sharks, had to be scratched in order for Stoll to return.

Stoll shed his non-contact jersey and practiced in his normal spot Friday.

Faceoffs, where he won 56 percent of his draws during the regular season, and penalty killing was where Stoll was missed most.

"If you look at our faceoff percentage last series, it's down quite a bit … and he's a big part of that," Kings captain Dustin Brown said. "I think we only got above 50 percent in one game. He still has an effect on our team when he’s not in the lineup, but from an X's and O's standpoint we're strong up the middle and a lot of that's because he's in the [third center] spot."

Here are the lineups for the Kings and Blackhawks based on pregame warmups:

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Posted On Saturday, 06.01.2013 / 3:36 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Kings series blog

Kings sharing hotel with 'Star Trek' convention

CHICAGO -- During the Western Conference Semifinals against the San Jose Sharks, the Los Angeles Kings shared hotel space with a large Anime convention while playing their games at San Jose's HP Pavilion.

When the Kings checked into their hotel Thursday for the start of the Western Conference Final against the Chicago Blackhawks, they weren't even fazed by the "Star Trek" convention being held there this weekend.

"Actually, this is pretty tame compared to what we saw in San Jose," Kings captain Dustin Brown said Saturday morning prior to the series opener at United Center (5 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN, RDS). "That was Anime, so that one was a little more bizarre."

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Posted On Saturday, 06.01.2013 / 11:41 AM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Kings series blog

Positioning in front of Quick key for Hawks

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."

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Posted On Friday, 05.31.2013 / 8:42 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Kings series blog

Blackhawks planning to stick with their game

CHICAGO -- The general idea in hockey is that each playoff series is its own story, complete with unexpected twists and villains and heroes and a happy ending for some but not for others.

This is almost certain to be an accurate depiction of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs for the Chicago Blackhawks. The Western Conference Semifinals was a drastically different experience than the opening round. Now comes the Western Conference Final, which commences Saturday at United Center (5 p.m. ET; NBCSN, RDS, TSN) and the Los Angeles Kings could present quite a different challenge for the Presidents’ Trophy winners.

“Yeah, they do play a little differently than Detroit and Minnesota,” Chicago forward Viktor Stalberg said of the defending Stanley Cup champions. “I know that’s the way they like to play. I’m sure there will be more hits and it will be tougher. At the end of the game, we know that’s not how we usually beat teams. We beat teams by playing quick hockey and moving the puck fast and making it tough on them that way. We know that’s how we’re going to match up against them.”

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Posted On Friday, 05.31.2013 / 7:04 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Kings series blog

Blackhawks try to move size throughout lineup

CHICAGO -- After grinding out a Western Conference Semifinal win in seven games against the Detroit Red Wings, the Chicago Blackhawks returned to practice Friday prior to the start of a conference final against the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday at United Center (5 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville juggled his forward lines for the workout from what he used in the 2-1 overtime victory in Game 7 against Detroit and appears to be looking for more size up front by adding 6-foot-4, 233-pound power forward Bryan Bickell as the left wing for 6-2, 208-pound Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews.

“I think he’s earned that opportunity [with] how he’s played,” Quenneville said of Bickell, who’s one of Chicago’s top scorers this postseason with five goals and one assist. “Not just his production offensively but physically he’s been engaged and he’s got some speed and he’s had a lot of puck time. When he did get the opportunity [against Detroit] to move up with those guys he did a great job. I think it gives a little more size and presence on that line.”

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Posted On Thursday, 05.30.2013 / 6:43 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Kings series blog

Kings mum on Stoll's return to lineup

ROSEMONT, Ill. -- Los Angeles Kings coach Darryl Sutter would not give an update on the status of concussed center Jarret Stoll when asked for one at the team's media availability Friday.

"Nope," is all Sutter said.

But Stoll's chances of playing in Game 1 of the Western Conference Final against the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center on Saturday (5 p.m. ET; NBCSN, RDS, TSN) have to at least be getting better, considering he practiced in his regular spot on the third line between Dwight King and Trevor Lewis.

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