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Kings set to raise banner, face Blackhawks

by Dan Rosen /

BLACKHAWKS (0-0-0) at KINGS (0-0-0)


Season series: This is the first of three meetings between the clubs this season. The Kings won three out of the four meetings last season. They won twice in regulation and once in a shootout. The Blackhawks' lone win against the Kings came at Staples Center on Nov. 26, 2011.

Big story: In addition to it being the season opener for both teams, the Kings will also raise their 2012 Stanley Cup championship banner to the Staples Center rafters, officially closing the most celebrated chapter of the franchise's history. The Blackhawks certainly remember the feeling of raising a championship banner. It was only 27 months ago that their 2010 championship banner went up to the United Center rafters.

Team Scope:

Blackhawks: Chicago coach Joel Quenneville put his team through a dry run Wednesday, starting with a morning skate at United Center in the morning before a Red vs. White intrasquad scrimmage in the evening. The Blackhawks brought in some of their minor-league prospects from the Rockford Ice Hogs to make sure they had two full teams.

"I felt better every period, every shift," Patrick Sharp said according to "It's good to know the legs and conditioning are there. We just have to tune up a few little things."

Kings: Anze Kopitar says his injured knee is getting better, but it is highly unlikely that he'll be cleared in time to play in this game. Kopitar, who injured his knee playing in Sweden only days before the NHL and NHLPA agreed to the framework of a new CBA, has been skating with the team but has not been taking part in contact drills.

"No pain, no soreness, no swelling -- that's what I want, I guess," Kopitar said earlier this week. "It's my first MCL injury so I didn't know the process, but I feel good and it feels like that, that I'm ahead of the process. Some guys heal quicker. I guess it's genetics. I feel pretty good and that's most important."

Kopitar said he won't force his return and risk injuring the knee further.

"I don't want to force it now and after two weeks be saying it's sore and doesn't feel stable," Kopitar said. "I'd rather make it 100 percent now and play for the rest of the season and be ready for playoffs as opposed to forcing it now and having a major setback a little later on."

Injury report: Blackhawks defenseman Steve Montador is out indefinitely with a concussion. … In addition to missing Kopitar, Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell is also out while recovering from offseason knee surgery.

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