Blackhawks vs. Kings Preview
LOS ANGELES, CA - For the second year in a row, the Chicago Blackhawks could have a goalie controversy on their hands.
The Blackhawks, who have been receiving solid goaltending from backup Corey Crawford, look to win their second straight game as they conclude their circus trip Saturday night against a Los Angeles Kings team trying to avoid losing for the sixth time in seven games.
Chicago (12-11-2) opened last season with Cristobal Huet in net before Antti Niemi supplanted the struggling veteran and backstopped the Blackhawks to their first Stanley Cup championship in 49 years.
Oddsmakers from online sports book Sportsbook.com have made the B -lmoney line favorites for Saturday's game against the X. Current NHL Public Betting Information shows that 58% of more 14,342 bets for this game have been placed on the Blackhawks -102..
The over/under is set at 5-5. Matchups say the Blackhawks are 12-12 on over/unders this year, while the Kings are 9-11-1
They parted ways with Niemi over the summer and signed the 35-year-old Marty Turco to a one-year contract. Turco, however, has been shaky. His 2.90 goals-against average is a career worst and he has given up 11 goals in losing his last two starts.
Chicago coach Joel Quenneville started Crawford on Friday against Anaheim, and made 26 saves in a 4-1 win.
"Corey was great," Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith said. "It seemed like he was squared to every puck and made every save look like an easy one. A lot of pucks were shot right into his belly because he was in good position.''
Crawford has allowed two or fewer goals in each of his last five starts, and has posted a 1.30 GAA in winning his last three. He has never faced the Kings, while Turco made 33 saves, including 15 in the third period, in Chicago's 3-1 victory over Los Angeles on Oct. 27.
Patrick Sharp had a goal in that game, giving him 14 in 17 career contests against the Kings, his second-most against any opponent. Sharp scored his 14th goal of the season Friday in just his 24th game. Last season, he didn't get his 14th goal until his 41st game.
"He's gotten off to a really good start for us,'' Quenneville said.
Sharp has scored in four of five games on this road trip, with the Blackhawks going 3-2-0.
The Kings (13-8-0) are returning home after winning just once on a four-game trip.
After opening the season 12-3-0 and climbing to the top of the Western Conference, Los Angeles has earned just two points in six games since. The Kings are struggling on both ends of the ice, getting outscored 25-15 in their last six games after outscoring opponents 21-6 in winning their previous six.
"Right now there's a little bit of frustration setting in because this thing keeps rolling and we've got to work through it,'' Kings coach Terry Murray said after Wednesday's 4-1 loss to Montreal. "That's all there is to it.''
Although Los Angeles has lost five of six, four of those defeats have come on the road. The Kings hope returning to Staples Center, where they're 8-1-0, can help them get back on track.
Despite his recent struggles, Jonathan Quick is expected to be back in net after having the night off Wednesday. He is 1-2-0 with a 3.28 GAA in his last three starts after posting a 1.55 GAA with a shutout in winning his previous seven.
Quick didn't start against the Blackhawks last month, and is 2-5-1 with a 2.80 GAA in eight career games against them.
The Kings are 1-5-1 in their last seven against Chicago, but only two of those contests were in Los Angeles (1-1-0). They're 7-1-3 in their last 11 versus the Blackhawks at Staples Center.