BLACKHAWKS (14-8-1) at KINGS (12-6-5)
7:00PM PT, TV: FOX SPORTS WEST; RADIO: AM 790 KABC
HAWKS IN TOWN: This is the first of three meetings with the Chicago Blackhawks this season, the teams will play again in Los Angeles on January 28, and for one final time at Chicago’s United Center on March 30 – what will be the Kings’ third to final road game of the regular season. The Blackhawks are capping off a six-game road trip tonight; they’ve gone 4-1-0 so far, outscoring opponents 18-11. Chicago is fresh off of a 4-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center on Friday night.
CHICAGO STYLE: The Blackhawks are coming into the night on pretty good terms with themselves. Goaltender Corey Crawford has started 13 straight games for Chicago, and has a 1.92 GAA. Patrick Kane, in 13 games during the month of November has racked up 16 points (7G, 9A). In their previous six games, the Blackhawks have scored a combined 25 goals, going 5-1-0.
PLAYOFF PAYOFF: The Kings defeated Chicago in seven games in last year’s Western Conference Final series, advancing to face the New York Rangers in the Stanley Cup Final. The Kings, though, went 0-3-0 against the Blackhawks during the regular season last year, getting outscored 9-4. Despite their success against the Blackhawks in the playoffs last year, the Kings have struggled mightily against Chicago on home ice during the regular season in recent years.
QUICK FOR CHICAGO: Jonathan Quick is expected to return to the Kings’ crease tonight after giving way to Martin Jones the last two games. Quick is coming off six days of rest, which is more than he’s accustomed to, but much needed with the Kings’ upcoming travels. Quick, in 18 starts this season, is 10-4-4 with a 2.22 GAA and a .932 SV% -- which is second best in the NHL. Quick, though, has struggled against the Blackhawks in regular season contests. He’s 6-12-1 with a 2.76 GAA and a .906 SV% in 19 games.
MARTINEZ ON THE MEND: Alec Martinez, who has missed the previous six games due to a left pinky finger injury, skated at full-speed during the Kings’ practice in El Segundo on Friday, and participated regularly in the morning skate today. It would be surprising to see Martinez inserted into tonight’s lineup, a return Tuesday night against the Boston Bruins seems more likely.
STREAKS AND MILESTONES: Mike Richards, with a goal Wednesday night in Minnesota, now has goals in two straight games, and three points (2G, 1A) in the last four. Richards is two assists away from hitting 300 for his NHL career. Justin Williams, who scored twice Wednesday in Minnesota, is now riding a six-game point streak (3G, 4A), and has eight points (4G, 4A) in his last eight games. Jamie McBain, who has seen increased time lately on the Kings’ blue-line with the absences of Alec Martinez and Slava Voynov, has two points (1G, 1A) in his last two games.
THE LAST TIME AROUND: In their only regular season visit to STAPLES Center last year on February 3, the Blackhawks won 5-3. Patrick Kane had three points (2G, 1A) in the Chicago victory, and Corey Crawford made 31 saves. Drew Doughty, Anze Kopitar, and Tyler Toffoli scored the goals for the Kings, and Jonathan Quick made 25 saves. The Blackhawks swept the Kings in all three regular season games last year, outscoring the Kings 9-4. The Kings have dropped six of their last seven regular season games played against the Blackhawks at STAPLES Center, dating back to March 18, 2010.
DREW IT UP
WE’RE DOING IT LIVE: Catch KINGS LIVE at 7:00PM PT on FOX SPORTS WEST, followed with Bob and Jim on the live play-by-play call from STAPLES Center for puck drop at 7:30PM PT.