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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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Quote of the Day

You don't see many. The [Drew] Doughtys, the [P.K.] Subbans, those are guys that create offense from the back and then on top of that ability, the size that he has. In the West you play against some pretty big players, and being able to clear the crease and contain the [Ryan] Getzlafs and the [Corey] Perrys and [Anze] Kopitars and players like that, we're excited about him going back there.

— Sharks general manager Doug Wilson on Brent Burns returning back to defense