Oh, what a difference a few seasons make.
Four or five years ago, tonight’s matchup between the Blackhawks and the Kings would have featured two dynastic NHL powerhouses at the top of their games. Tonight, it featured two sub-.500 teams struggling to score and establish any kind of consistency.
Prior to the game on the NBCSN warmup, Hawk color man Ed Olczyk pronounced that the Kings are “in a rebuild.” Well, perhaps the same should be said of the Blackhawks.
Robin Lehner, who has clearly been the better of the Hawks’ two goalies early this season, took the net for Chicago, facing Jack Campbell for the Kings.
Of note, veteran defenseman Brent Seabrook was a healthy scratch—something to watch as the season progresses.
The Hawks’ lines and pairings were:
Drake Caggiula — Jonathan Toews — Patrick Kane
Dominik Kubalik — David Kampf — Alexander Nylander
Brandon Saad — Kirby Dach — Andrew Shaw
Dylan Strome — Ryan Carpenter — Alex DeBrincat
Duncan Keith — Calvin de Haan
Olli Maatta — Dennis Gilbert
Slater Koekkoek — Erik Gustafsson
If Chicago head coach Jeremy Colliton was trying to send a message to Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Strome by demoting them to the fourth line, it seems to have worked—Strome took a DeBrincat set-up off transition and buried it from the slot at just 2:33 into the contest, making the score 1–0 Chicago.
The Kings then took a minor penalty at 3:36, which Chicago failed to capitalize on.
Broken record time (and prepare for more of it): The Kings’ bigger forwards had a target on 18-year-old Kirby Dach’s back from the get-go. Overall, the early going featured a fair amount of banging, with Drake Caggiula and (go figure) Andrew Shaw running around quite a bit for the Hawks.
Calvin de Haan took an unintentional delay of game at 10:56, giving the Kings their first power play of the night. After extended LA offensive zone pressure, Lehner made back-to-back strong saves at 11:43. But, King left wing Ilya Kovalchuk evened it up with a tripping penalty 195 feet from his own net at 12:14, which eventually turned into a brief Blackhawk man advantage that was then killed off by LA.
The Hawks mounted another flurry late in the period led by Jonathan Toews and Brandon Saad, but the period ended with the Hawks up by one. Shots were 12–11 Chicago.
The Hawks struck early again, with David Kampf corralling a pass from a falling Alex Nylander and putting it past Campbell at 2:26 for a 2–0 Chicago lead.
Shaw took a holding the stick minor at 5:24, putting LA on the man advantage, which the Hawks killed with Lehner strong on a few late King chances.
Nylander and Dominik Kubalik had a nice two-on-one opportunity at 9:46 that Nylander could not squeak through Campbell’s pads.
There was a bit of controversy when Saad was caught in the face by the follow-through of an LA player’s stick after taking a shot. Saad fell to the ice, but play continued until the refs blew it dow with the Hawks offside at 15:19. The Hawks cashed in just seconds later when DeBrincat picked up a puck behind the LA net and fed Strome again in the slot, which Strome held on to long enough to draw Campbell down then converted up high at 15:55, extending Chicago’s lead to 3–0.
Strome and DeBrincat clicked yet again at 19:52, this time with Strome feeding DeBrincat out front to make it 4–0 Hawks, which was how the period would end. The Kings outshot Chicago 12–8 in the frame.
Strome almost made it three goals for the night at 2:35 when he got in behind the King defense. But Campbell was up to the challenge to deny the hat-trick bid.
The Kings finally solved Lehner at 3:35 on a Sean Walker blast from the right circle to cut the score to 4–1.
Toews took a hooking minor at 12:18 which the Hawks effectively killed. DeBrincat and Strome again almost converted a two-on-one at 16:00, but to no avail. But, at 17:43, Drake “Caligula” Caggiula finally broke the Cat-Strome spell and tipped a puck home, making it 5–1 Chicago, which would prove to be the final score.
The Strome, Ryan Carpenter, DeBrincat line. Crazy good. Three goals, seven points. Lehner was also very strong (38 saves, .974 save percentage). Nylander made plays all over the ice.
Hard to find on a night like this against a really bad Kings team. So, yeah, the Kings. Well, the Hawks were yet again outshot, 39–26.
The guys in black, again.
All we have on this one. Comment below.
Center Ice › Forums › RECAP: Blackhawks down Kings 5–1
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