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Blackhawks need win vs. Kings to keep pace in Central

Los Angeles defenseman Scuderi enjoyed time in Chicago but happy with new team

by Brian Hedger / NHL.com Correspondent

KINGS (40-22-5) AT BLACKHAWKS (41-22-6)

TV: 8 p.m. ET, NHLN, SNE, SNO, CSN-CH+

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks will look to keep pace with the leaders in the Central Division when they face the Los Angeles Kings at United Center on Monday.

The Blackhawks' loss to the Dallas Stars on Friday, followed by the Stars' defeat of the St. Louis Blues on Saturday, gave the Stars and Blues 91 points. The Blackhawks are third in the division with 88 points.

The Kings also need a win to stay on top of the Pacific Division. They are two points ahead of the Anaheim Ducks, who play the New Jersey Devils on Monday (10 p.m. ET; MSG, FS-SD, PRIME, NHL.TV).

The Blackhawks will face former teammate Rob Scuderi for the first time since the defenseman was traded to the Kings for Christian Ehrhoff on Feb. 26.

Scuderi, 37, has averaged 19:35 of ice time per game in seven games with the Kings since the trade. He's been paired with Drew Doughty, his former partner from a previous stint with the Kings.

"I think it's probably a better fit in L.A.," Scuderi said after the Kings' morning skate. "I don't think that's criminal to say. I'm not going to be the first player in professional sports that maybe wasn't a fit in one place. It's OK to admit that, and I'm glad that each party can move on."

The Blackhawks had acquired Scuderi from the Pittsburgh Penguins in a trade for defenseman Trevor Daley on Dec. 14. In 17 games with the Blackhawks Scuderi didn't have a point and he was placed on waivers and sent to Rockford of the American Hockey League on Feb. 17.

Ehrhoff was in a similar position with the Kings. He had two goals and 10 points in 40 games but was placed on waivers and assigned to Ontario of the AHL on Feb. 11. Ehrhoff has played four games with the Blackhawks since the trade but will be a healthy scratch Monday.

"Chicago as a team plays a little more offensive style with some stretch plays and L.A. keeps it a little tighter," said Ehrhoff, who has one assist with the Blackhawks. "It's just a different style of play. The [Blackhawks'] defensive style is more like a zone play, defending more with your stick, and that's something that can suit me a little better."

Ehrhoff said being unsure of himself also played a role in his struggles with the Kings.

"For me the only thing that changed, and that probably helped when I went down to Ontario, is getting my confidence going again and just [not thinking] too much when I play," he said. "That obviously wasn't there in L.A. my last few weeks and that's definitely something that changed when I went down [to the AHL] for a little bit."

The biggest difference for Scuderi was comfort playing in a familiar defensive structure with the Kings.

"I was excited to get a chance anywhere, really, given where I was," Scuderi said. "To get an opportunity to play in the NHL is always a privilege. But to know I was going to be back in Los Angeles, where I had some familiarity with not just the system and the coaching but my teammates as well, it made it all that much sweeter."

Scuderi isn't the only former Blackhawks player returning to Chicago. Forward Kris Versteeg is back at United Center with his second team; he helped the Carolina Hurricanes beat the Blackhawks 2-1 here on Dec. 27. The Hurricanes traded him to the Kings on Feb. 28.

Versteeg, who helped Chicago win the Stanley Cup in 2010 and 2015, doesn't have a point in five games with the Kings. He was moved to the top line last weekend with center Anze Kopitar and left wing Milan Lucic, and hopes that is a good match.

"It's exciting to play with guys of those skill levels and qualities," Versteeg said. "They're big guys, big bodies and they don't need you to help them very much because they're so great. Hopefully I can just add a little bit of what I bring to that line and help us get a big win."

Corey Crawford will start in net for the Blackhawks. It will be his 57th game and start, which will tie his NHL high from 2014-15.

Jonathan Quick is expected to start in goal for the Kings, who will play their second of four games in a seven-day span.

Here are the projected lineups:

KINGS

Milan Lucic - Anze Kopitar - Kris Versteeg

Dwight King - Jeff Carter - Tyler Toffoli

Tanner Pearson - Vincent Lecavalier - Dustin Brown

Kyle Clifford - Nick Shore - Trevor Lewis

Rob Scuderi - Drew Doughty

Jake Muzzin - Alec Martinez

Brayden McNabb - Luke Schenn

Jonathan Quick

Jhonas Enroth

Injured: Matt Greene (upper body), Marian Gaborik (lower body), Jordan Nolan (undisclosed)

Scratched: Jamie McBain, Andy Andreoff

BLACKHAWKS

Andrew Ladd - Jonathan Toews - Marian Hossa

Artemi Panarin - Artem Anisimov - Patrick Kane

Andrew Desjardins - Teuvo Teravainen - Tomas Fleischmann

Brandon Mashinter - Andrew Shaw - Dale Weise

Duncan Keith - Niklas Hjalmarsson

Erik Gustafsson - Brent Seabrook

Trevor van Riemsdyk - Michal Rozsival

Corey Crawford

Scott Darling

Injured: Marcus Kruger (left wrist)

Scratched: Dennis Rasmussen, Richard Panik, Christian Ehrhoff

Status report: Rozsival, who missed practice Sunday because of a lower-body injury, went through the morning skate fine and will play. ... Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville juggled his bottom six forwards after the loss Friday. Desjardins, who played on the fourth line against the Stars, was on the third line and Weise was moved to the fourth line. ... Versteeg was moved to the top line during the Kings' 2-1 overtime loss to the New Jersey Devils at Staples Center on Saturday.

Who's hot: Teravainen has two goals and eight points in the past 10 games. ... Lucic has two goals and five assists during a five-game point streak.

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