Game 1 between the Blackhawks and Kings begins at 2 p.m. on NBC, or you can watch via NBC Live Extra's live stream here. And don't forget to flip over to Comcast SportsNet after the game for Blackhawks Postgame Live.
It’s time for the Western Conference Final, and it’s official: we’re getting a little brain soft.
That’s the only explanation for us nearly — nearly, I say — forgetting Five Things to watch for today’s game. Sorry about that, folks. But, there is still time so let’s go over them right now, shall we?
[MORE: Konroyd's keys to Game 1: Blackhawks-Kings]
1. Start fast and stay on the Kings. Los Angeles, much like the Minnesota Wild before it, is probably giddy over its seven-game series victory over the Anaheim Ducks earlier this week. They may also be tired. So the Blackhawks have to come out firing, on all cylinders, to set the tone in this one. The Blackhawks have no excuse; they’ve been waiting for this for days.
2. Stay disciplined. The Blackhawks got better at this as the Minnesota series wore on, and it’s always good not to let special teams decide too much. The Kings’ power play has been pretty solid this postseason, converting 22.9 percent of the time, and the Blackhawks would be smart not to give it many opportunities.
3. Play more minutes, bottom six. This goes especially for the Blackhawks’ fourth line, which started stabilizing as the Wild series went on. It’s not easy to shuffle a lineup with Andrew Shaw out with injury, but the more the Blackhawks get from their third and fourth lines, mainly in minutes, the less the top two lines are worn out. At this juncture, the Blackhawks need everyone playing with as much energy as possible.
4. Pepper Mr. Quick. Jonathan Quick was a wall heading into this series last year. Then he started showing he was vulnerable. It’s rare to see that, for sure. The Blackhawks didn’t get enough traffic or pucks around Ilya Bryzgalov consistently last series. They have to do a better job of that this one.
5. Our pick to click today is Brent Seabrook. Despite missing three games due to suspension in the first round, the defenseman had a strong series against the St. Louis Blues. This series could have that same feel to it, so we say Seabrook is a big part of it.