By Jay Zawaski–
Tonight, when the Chicago Blackhawks face off against the Los Angeles Kings, they’ll be facing one of the best young teams in hockey.
When you look ahead to the NHL in the next decade, there are a few teams you know will be on top for years to come. The Blackhawks, the Washington Capitals, the Pittsburgh Penguins have the marquee names, but the Los Angeles Kings are right in that mix.
While they lack the Ovechkins, Crosbys, or Kanes, they are loaded with young, lesser known talent. Forwards Dustin Brown, and Anze Kopitar, defensemen Drew Doughty (out with a concussion tonight) and Jack Johnson and goaltender Jonathan Quick make up an excellent core. The Kings are very similar to the 2008-09 Blackhawks. They are a young team on the cusp of greatness.
With that in mind, the Hawks need to step up their game and be ready for the Kings attack. To this point, the Kings (6-2-0) are the best team the Hawks have faced so far. Getting the puck past Quick has been a challenge. He’s 5-1 with a 1.95 GAA and a .926 save percentage. Those are elite numbers. Fortunately for the Hawks, the Kings’ backup Jonathan Bernier is between the pipes for the Kings tonight.
Joel Quenneville has shuffled the Hawks lines. Patrick Kane has been demoted to the third line. He’s been floating on the ice far too often, and some are speculating that when Jonathan Toews bit his tongue after Saturday’s loss to Columbus, he was holding back criticism of Kane. The team will tell you they’re trying to balance the offense, but Q is clearly trying to send a message to Kane.
Jack Skille will get his first chance to skate on the top line with Toews and Patrick Sharp. He’s earned the look. Hopefully, he can show enough to stick.
Here’s how the lines will look tonight:
In other news…Brian Campbell skated with the team today, and is expected to play Sunday night when the Hawks take on the Rangers in New York.