Chicago and Los Angeles Prepare To Do Battle

dm_130530_nhl_melrose_westernconferencefinals_previewThe Los Angeles Kings are the defending Stanley Cup champions and the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup three years ago. For the past few seasons, the online sports book experts have considered these two teams to be the best in the Western Conference. As the Blackhawks and Kings get ready to do battle in the 2013 Western Conference finals, it is worth noting that this is essentially the same team that won the Cup for Los Angeles last season, while the Blackhawks have undergone some significant changes.

The biggest change in Chicago that the betting sites consider to be a factor in this series is the change from Antti Niemi to Corey Crawford in goal. Niemi was the cool and calm presence that rose to fame while backstopping Chicago to its Stanley Cup win. Crawford is the emotional youngster who is not afraid to show emotion at any point in the game. The Kings will work on Crawford and try to frustrate him and get him to react with emotion. The one thing Crawford has going for him is that he does not get flustered when he allows that first goal of the game. He has seen some easy floaters go by him in these playoffs, but he has also made the big saves when needed.

Los Angeles Kings

The sports betting sites are pointing to goaltender Jonathan Quick as being the deciding factor for the Kings once again. Quick was the deciding factor in last year’s playoffs and he was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP for his efforts. This season, Quick is once again the difference for Los Angeles as he has been able to work miracles when the Los Angeles defense breaks down. Jonathan Quick will be the difference in this series and, if Los Angeles wins, it will be because of the play of its goaltender.

Chicago Blackhawks

The Blackhawks are all about attacking the other team’s net, which tends to leave Crawford on his own a lot. The betting sites are curious to see how well Quick will hold up to the endless onslaught of shots that the Blackhawks will pour in his direction. The Blackhawks are fast and aggressive, but lack the size to back that up all of the time. That is one area where the Kings will test the Blackhawks as Los Angeles has the size it needs to make its point.

The Bottom Line

The last time the Los Angeles Kings played the Chicago Blackhawks in the playoffs was the 1973-74 season. Chicago won that series but, needless to say, things are different now. These are the best teams in the Western Conference and this will be a great series to watch. But, in the end, the defense and size of the Los Angeles Kings will be what overpowers the finesse of the Chicago Blackhawks.

Read more about the NHL Western Conference finals.

Pick: Los Angeles in six