Fatigue could be a significant factor in Game 1 of the series, what with the Kings playing Game 7 against the Ducks on Friday night in Anaheim, traveling on Saturday and then facing off against the Blackhawks on Sunday afternoon in Chicago. The Kings will play twice in less than 48 hours, a tight turnaround. The rest of the series looks less taxing. Game 2 on Wednesday follows two days of rest and preparation. Game 3 at Staples Center also follows two days of rest and preparation.
Goaltending continues to be the Kings’ biggest and most consistent advantage over most teams. Jonathan Quick has played his biggest and most consistent games during the Kings’ elimination games during the playoffs. He is 6-0 with a 1.33 goals-against average, a .957 save percentage and one shutout in six games in which the Kings had to win or be eliminated from the playoffs. That’s pressure netminding and Quick has come through with strong performances against the Ducks and Sharks.
Special teams. Oh, wait, you thought this was about power plays and penalty killing? No, the Kings and Blackhawks are very special teams in every sense of the words. They are meeting in the conference finals for the second consecutive season, the first repeat appearances by the same teams in the Western Conference finals since the Dallas Stars defeated the Colorado Avalanche in 1999 and 2000. In fact, the Kings are back for their third straight West finals appearance.