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NHL player suspensions for 2013 Check out which NHL players have been suspended this season. /nhl/lists/players-suspensions-for-2013-brendan-shanahan-020613 http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/04/24/042413-NHL-Brown-PI-AM_20130424183232495_136_102.JPG
Stanley Cup playoffs: Second round preview Check out FOXSports.com's full preview for the second round of the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs. /nhl/lists/second-round-stanley-cup-playoffs-preview-051313 http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/05/14/051313-Down-To-Eight-SW-PI_20130514025506802_136_102.JPG
2013 NHL playoffs: Eastern Conference first round preview Check out FOXSports.com's preview of the Stanley Cup playoffs' first round in the Eastern Conference. /nhl/lists/2013-stanley-cup-playoffs-preview-eastern-conference-first-round-042913 http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/04/30/042913-NHL-Unleash-the-east-PI-AA_20130430013617390_136_102.JPG
Top 10 contenders for Stanley Cup Top 10 contenders for Stanley Cup /nhl/lists/top-stanley-cup-contenders-100113 http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/10/01/100113-NHL-Blackhawks-Shaw-PI-HF_20131001180839436_136_102.JPG
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NHL 142 43 Western Conference finals preview: Kings vs. Blackhawks 31784372 Prediction Prediction NHL

The Blackhawks have yet to face a team that hits as hard and defends as well as the defending champs. LA finds a way to win away from home and heads back to the Cup Final. Kings in six.

Kirby Lee - USA TODAY Sports http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/05/31/053013-NHL-WEST-PREVIEW-DC-G6_20130531030758895_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/05/31/053013-NHL-WEST-PREVIEW-DC-G6_20130531030758895_107_80.JPG
NHL 142 43 Western Conference finals preview: Kings vs. Blackhawks 31784370 Pick the hero Pick+the+hero NHL

Kings: When the Kings won the Stanley Cup last season team leaders Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown both had identical stat lines. Eight goals, 12 assists in 20 games. That's 40 points between the two. So far in 2013? Kopi and Brownie have a combined five goals and six assists. Yikes! Brown broke out in 2012 and led the Kings to their first Stanley Cup. His crushing hits are remembered more than most of his goals, though. For Kopitar, he's a sure sniper and needs to prove that against the Blackhawks and goalie Corey Crawford. Nothing is more deflating for the opposition than seeing their goalie get sniped. If the Kings are going to level the Hawks, it's time for Kopitar and Brown to bring their game to another level.

Blackhawks: Hello, Patrick Kane? Kane (pictured) scored 23 goals and had 32 assists to lead the Hawks in the regular season and his numbers in the postseason have been surprising ... in a bad way. Kane has just two goals (but he does have seven assists). When Kaner is on his game he's making goalies look flat-out silly. He may have a hard time doing that against Kings G Jonathan Quick, but when Kane finds the back of the net his true passion comes out and it certainly riles up the rest of his teammates. Chicago needs its old hero to be the hero again. We all remember Kane's anti-climactic Game 7 goal that won the Hawks the Cup in 2010 against the Flyers. His being that kind of difference-maker is what his team desperately needs against the Kings.

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NHL 142 43 Western Conference finals preview: Kings vs. Blackhawks 31784371 Little names can make a big difference Little+names+can+make+a+big+difference NHL

Kings: Trevor Lewis (pictured, right) really stepped up for LA last round when center Jarret Stoll went down with a concussion after taking a vicious hit in Game 1. Lewis ate up some of Stoll's key minutes on the PK against the Sharks and also studied up and came up big in the faceoff circle. The Kings struggled mightily on faceoffs against San Jose, but Lewis was able to win a key draw in the pivotal Game 5 that resulted in an LA goal. Lewis does all the little things right on the ice, things that make his former coach Darryl Sutter proud. He even scored the winning goal in Game 2 when the Kings scored two late goals to stun the Sharks. All the extra responsibility placed on Lewis in Stoll's absence will only help his confidence going forward. And, guess what? Looks like Stoll will be back for the series vs. Chicago.

Blackhawks: Super scrappy 21-year-old Andrew Shaw almost gave up on his NHL dream. But the Blackhawks picked him up in the fifth round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft and he's made himself into a tough-to-play-against presence in the Windy City. Although he may have arrived late to the NHL party, he has clearly been worth the wait. Shaw talks a mean game and backs it up and provides the kind of toughness teams need to win in the playoffs. He has three goals and three assists in these playoffs to go with a team-high 22 PIM. When he shoots he makes it count. He's scored on over 16 percent of his shots in the first two rounds. Shaw talks a big game and backs it up. He's the kind of tough forward the smooth-skating Blackhawks will need against a big LA team.

Mark J. Terrill - AP Images http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/05/31/053013-NHL-WEST-PREVIEW-DC-G5_20130531030742893_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/05/31/053013-NHL-WEST-PREVIEW-DC-G5_20130531030742893_107_80.JPG
NHL 142 43 Western Conference finals preview: Kings vs. Blackhawks 31784373 Changes since winning the Cup Changes+since+winning+the+Cup NHL

Kings: Los Angeles was the favorite heading into the season, and remained so in the eyes of many despite their struggles, because of their lack of changes. The Kings brought back every key contributor from last season's team in the offseason. In fact, the most notable offseason loss was bench coach Jamie Kompon — who is now on the Chicago bench. Los Angeles did lose stand-up veteran blue-liner Willie Mitchell to a knee injury before the season, and added stand-up veteran blue-liner Robyn Regehr at the deadline to fill the void. First-year forward Tyler Tofoli (1 G, 1 A) has added speed to the offense, and rookie defenseman Jake Muzzin has three assists and averages better than 15 minutes in the postseason.

Blackhawks: The story of the Chicago offseason following winning the Stanley Cup in 201o was the salary-cap induced roster purge. 'Freefall' and 'fire sale' were terms used often that offseason, with big names like Dustin Byfuglien (a Stanley Cup hero), Brent Sopel, Kris Versteeg and Andrew Ladd traded away. But no loss was bigger than goalie Antti Niemi (pictured), who left for San Jose when the Blackhawks walked away from a $2.75 deal awarded in arbitration. He has since found home in Northern California, signing a four-year extension and leading the Sharks to the playoffs (where he was just beaten by, yup, the Kings). Since Niemi's departure, Chicago has platooned Corey Crawford in the regular season before riding him in the playoffs each of the last three seasons. In 2011 and 2012, the Blackhawks didn't make it out of the conference quarters.

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NHL 142 43 Western Conference finals preview: Kings vs. Blackhawks 31777957 Goalie breakdown Goalie+breakdown NHL

Kings: If the Kings hold a clear advantage over Chicago heading into this series, it's between the pipes. Not only is Los Angeles net-minder Jonathan Quick (pictured) the reigning Conn Smythe Trophy winner, he leads all NHL goalies in the playoffs in wins, shutouts, save percentage and goals-against average. While the Kings pretty much breezed through the playoffs last season, they have had some battles on their hands (going six and seven games so far). But every time the season looked in peril, it was Quick's steady play that kept the season alive.

Blackhawks: Corey Crawford has been no pushover, himself. He is one of three goalies still playing who have been in net for all eight of their team's playoff wins, and while Quick sits atop all the stats, Crawford is in the top three in each category, as well. After Chicago fell behind 3-1 in its series vs. Detroit, Crawford surrendered only five goals in the final three games to complete the comeback. He played in only one game in Chicago's Stanley Cup-winning 2009-10 season and shared time with Ray Emery this season. There's no doubt he's the man, now.

Ed Szczepanski - USA TODAY Sports http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/05/31/053013-NHL-WEST-PREVIEW-DC-G3_20130531025817889_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/05/31/053013-NHL-WEST-PREVIEW-DC-G3_20130531025817889_107_80.JPG
NHL 142 43 Western Conference finals preview: Kings vs. Blackhawks 31784369 Head to head Head+to+head NHL

As we already stated, that first game between these teams wasn't much of a contest, and neither was the beginning of the teams' second meeting. But after the Blackhawks outscored the defending champs 8-2 in the first five periods of the season, Los Angeles finally awoke and scored seven goals in the final four periods against Chicago, giving the Kings hope heading into this series. Overall, the Blackhawks won the season series 2-1-0, outscoring the Kings 12-9. Chicago center Jonathan Toews has been the most consistent scorer in the series, netting a goal and assist in each of the three games. And the Chicago defensemen have burned the Kings and goalie Jonathan Quick (1-2-0, 72 saves on 84 shots vs. Chicago) for a goal and 10 assists this season. The teams have met only once in the playoffs, and that was 39 years ago (the Blackhawks won, 4-1).

Jayne Kamin-Oncea - USA TODAY Sports http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/05/31/053013-NHL-WEST-PREVIEW-DC-G2_20130531025758887_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/05/31/053013-NHL-WEST-PREVIEW-DC-G2_20130531025758887_107_80.JPG
NHL 142 43 Western Conference finals preview: Kings vs. Blackhawks 31784368 Blackhawks, Kings for the West Blackhawks%2C+Kings+for+the+West NHL

We're right back where we started — literally. Chicago started its record-setting season with a 5-2 win at Los Angeles in the season opener. And the teams took dramatically different paths over the next 4-1/2 months. The Blackhawks would go on to collect at least one point in a record 24 straight games to open the season and assert themselves as the team to beat this season. The Kings, on the other hand, took a month to find consistency, and had some people asking early on if the champs would miss the playoffs. So here we are: the favorites vs. the champs. Here's how they break down.
 

Jayne Kamin-Oncea - USA TODAY Sports http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/05/31/053013-NHL-WEST-PREVIEW-DC-G1_20130531025741885_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/05/31/053013-NHL-WEST-PREVIEW-DC-G1_20130531025741885_107_80.JPG
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http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/10/01/100113-NHL-Blackhawks-Shaw-PI-HF_20131001180839436_136_102.JPG Top 10 contenders for Stanley Cup Top 10 contenders for Stanley Cup Top 10 contenders for Stanley Cup Nothing comes easy in hockey, nothing. The road to winning the Stanley Cup is filled with obstacles, and this year the defending champs have these nine teams coming after them. Oct 1, 2013 6:49 PM ET 1 3 /nhl/lists/top-stanley-cup-contenders-100113
http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/09/26/New-Zealand-sailing-fan_20130926040909882_136_102.JPG Biggest choke jobs in sports Infamous chokers gallery Infamous chokers gallery You've really got to work to get sailing onto this website. And you've <i><font color="#0000">REALLY</font></i> got to blow it for people to refer to a yacht race as the biggest choke in the history of all sports. Take a bow, Emirates! Sep 26, 2013 12:02 PM ET 1 3 /nhl/lists/Infamous-sports-chokers
http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/03/08/030813-3-NHL-foxiest-kings-OB-G_20130308185330431_136_102.JPG Who has the FOXiest fans? Take a look at the FOXiest fans in hockey. Take a look at the FOXiest fans in hockey. It's game time for the NHL's FOXiest fans. Jul 17, 2013 11:30 AM ET 1 3 /nhl/lists/FOXiest-female-hockey-NHL-fans-092612
http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/06/11/PI_20130611222922662_136_102.JPG Stanley Cup Final expert picks Stanley Cup Final expert picks: Chicago Black... Stanley Cup Final expert picks: Chicago Blackhawks hosting the Boston Bruins in an Original Six Series. Who will win? Our simulator told you who the numbers say will win the Cup. But if getting the expert's take is more your thing, we've got you covered, too. Jun 12, 2013 12:03 AM ET 1 3 /nhl/lists/stanley-cup-expert-predictions-chicago-blackhawks-boston-bruins-061113