Blackhawks-Kings: Three things to watch in Game 3
MAY 23, 2014 9:16p ET
Equally as desperate and evenly-matched, here are three things to watch for in Game 3 Saturday afternoon at Staples Center.
1. Limiting odd-man rushes
Chicago Defenseman Nick Leddy absolutely torched L.A. defenseman Matt Greene to break away and score the Blackhawks' second goal in Game 2. The Kings were able to more than make up for it, but it further illustrates the speed and offensive ability of the entire Blackhawks lineup.
Lose track of the puck even for a split-second and the Chicago rush will make their opponent pay.
"We can't trade odd-man rushes with this team, that's how they beat us in the past, that's how they beat all teams, really," said Kings' defenseman Drew Doughty. "If you continue to create rushes they're going to create those turnovers, they have a lot of speed and the create opportunities that way. We need to stick to our game, a possession and forecheck style of game."
With defenseman Robyn Regehr still out for the foreseeable future with a knee injury, the Kings have been using either Greene or Jeff Schultz in his place. Both are big guys, with Greene at 6-foot-3 and Schultz at 6-6, and while Greene can be especially physical, both are considerably slow.
Puck possession is going to be crucial.
"A big part of that is not turning the puck over at the blue lines to give them those odd-man rushes," defenseman Alec Martinez said. "I think it's definitely a focus. We've looked at video and we'll probably watch more today. They're a good hockey club, they're going to generate opportunities but we got to limit the amount that we give them by not turning pucks over."
The Kings' faceoff game has been strong regardless of the score, but they took it up a notch in Game 2. A big difference-maker in the decisive third period was their faceoff wins.
"Trying to get it closer to 50/50 is what we're looking at," said Blackhawks' head coach Joel Quenneville. "We looked at it. We talked about it as a group, particularly the guys who take draws. We're facing one of the best teams in the league in that area. They all got experience. They all are very effective at it as well."
With the Kings looking to dictate puck possession, they'll get a big boost if they're able to keep that number below Quenneville's desired 50-50 level.
"It's not just the centermen, all five guys on the ice have to help win those draws," Martinez said. "It's pretty simple in the fact that, when you have the puck, they don't."
3. Home ice: Meaningless or meaningful?
The Blackhawks have bumps in their road game and the Kings know it. Chicago has yet to win their first game on the road in each of the last two playoff series, falling in Games 1 and 2 at St. Louis and Games 3 and 4 in Minnesota.
However, the Kings have yet to win their first game in their home barn in their last two series as well, going down in Game 3 to San Jose and Game 3 and 4 to Anaheim. The home ice advantage proved to have no real advantage.
"We need to be better at home," Doughty said. "We kind of messed that up against Anaheim. We have to have that identity at home where we're a hard team to play against, especially in the playoffs. Even though we haven't been getting home ice (advantage) so far, if we can steal one in their team's arena and win two at home that puts us up 3-1 every series. We haven't been able to do that yet but we need to work on it."