Playoffs Tonight: Keith-less ‘Hawks take on Kings
After a 95 minute marathon, the Boston Bruins have taken a 3-0 series lead over Pittsburgh. The Penguins have only scored two goals in this series and after acquiring a several key players before the trade deadline, Pittsburgh is now on the verge of elimination.
That series will continue on Friday, but in the meantime...
Los Angeles Kings host Chicago Blackhawks (9:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN/Live Extra)
Chicago leads 2-1
After Tuesday’s win, the Los Angeles Kings are now 8-0 at home, which puts them just three victories shy of tying the record for consecutive home playoff wins. Of course, to have a shot at that mark, they’ll have to advance to the Stanley Cup finals.
For the third straight game, the Kings will probably need to get by without forward Mike Richards, who is believed to have suffered a concussion in Game 1.
Richards was on the ice yesterday, but it was only a “light workout” and didn’t involve contact drills. Anything is possible, but it would be surprising if Richards went from that to being game ready in the span of just one day.
But the Kings aren’t the only ones that will have to deal with a big hole in their lineup. Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith has been handed a one-game suspension for slashing Kings forward Jeff Carter. Keith has been averaging 24:44 minutes per game in the playoffs and losing him, even for a short time, is easily one of the worst setbacks that the Blackhawks could be asked to endure.
“Duncs is important in all areas,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville told CSN Chicago. “You talk about special teams, big minutes, how we defend, how we get activated on the back end, his leadership and compete level. He’s everything you want in a defenseman.”
His absence, combined with the Kings success at the Staples Center throughout the 2013 campaign, makes Los Angeles look like the favorite tonight despite Chicago’s 2-1 series edge. However, one potential game changer is Chicago’s Patrick Kane, who has struggled lately with just two assists in his last seven games.
Quenneville said that the team is “looking for a little more” from Kane and he is due for a bounce back game.
The stakes are high for the Kings tonight. They already need to win at least one road game to advance to the Stanley Cup finals. If they lose tonight, they’ll have to sweep the remaining two contests in Chicago.