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Kings have as much pressure on them as Blackhawks

by Corey Masisak

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."

Considering that some of the Kings will be playing their 57th playoff game in the past three seasons Wednesday, trying to play mind games through the media probably isn't going to work.

"We've got to win one game," Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin said. "If they're trying to say that to make us feel nervous, that's what it is. We've got enough leadership and experience in here. We know what we have to do. It is just a matter of going out and doing it.

"We know their backs are against the wall and they'll come out with a good push. We have to be solid. It's going to be a hard-fought battle and we have to be ready for it."

Here are the projected lineups for both teams:


Bryan Bickell - Jonathan Toews - Marian Hossa

Brandon Saad - Andrew Shaw - Patrick Kane

Patrick Sharp - Michal Handzus - Kris Versteeg

Brandon Bollig - Marcus Kruger - Ben Smith

Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook

Johnny Oduya - Niklas Hjalmarsson

Nick Leddy - Michal Rozsival

Corey Crawford

Antti Raanta

Scratched: Michal Rozsival, Joakim Nordstrom, Jeremy Morin, David Rundblad, Klas Dahlbeck


Marian Gaborik - Anze Kopitar - Dustin Brown

Tanner Pearson - Jeff Carter - Tyler Toffoli

Dwight King - Jarret Stoll - Justin Williams

Kyle Clifford - Mike Richards - Trevor Lewis

Jake Muzzin - Drew Doughty

Willie Mitchell - Slava Voynov

Alec Martinez - Matt Greene

Jonathan Quick

Martin Jones

Scratched: Colin Fraser, Brayden McNabb, Andrew Bodnarchuk, Jeff Schultz, Linden Vey, Andy Andreoff, Jordan Nolan, Jean-Francois Berube

Injured: Robyn Regehr (knee)

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