After Thursday's snowfall and the cold that lingered in its wake, a weekend in Southern California sounds pretty good to all of us.
But the Hawks will have to skip lying on the beach, soaking up the sun, and taking in all the sights that Santa Monica might have to offer, because these two games need to be all business.
After biffing one that was served up on a platter at home, the Hawks have to build another win streak to cancel out a February will be told on a therapist's couch one day. Beyond that, with only 20 games left, the Hawks have get real hot to possibly improve playoff position and most of all instill the type of game they will need to play to make us believe a successful playoff run is possible.
However, it will not be easy tonight. The Kings may have lost four in a row, but they pulled off a major trade on Thursday for disgruntled winger Jeff Carter from Columbus. As a result, the building should be jumping tonight and the Kings are sure to come out of their skates, at least to start the game. Even considering Hawks’ sound record against the Kings in the past years, this could still be a problem.
The Kings play the type of game that can give the Hawks fits. They're tight, big and can be nasty. They keep things locked down in their zone, and love to punish opposing d-men with a blunt attack that basically involves getting the puck deep and torpedoing their way into boards and players to get it back.
They also have the league's most unheralded great goalie in Jonathan Quick, who shut out the Hawks the last time these two danced. In fact, Hawks would have a more impressive record if the Kings had a better scoring record than the D&D dork from high school.
While that has been the only problem for the Kings, it is a gargantuan one. They are last in the league in goals scored, and by no small margin. Some of it is attacking plan, a hardly imaginative tactic of just firing from anywhere and trying to crash the net. There is not a lot of passing or movement. Some of it is disappointing years from their stars, such as Mike Richards, Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, and a couple others. At this point, having gone on this long, the other part simply has to be mental.
The Hawks did not do well against a desperate team on Thursday, so they will have to improve big time tonight. Even if they do everything right, Quick can win a game by himself. Carter is another sniper, but he doesn't solve all the Kings problems by himself.
Get to three goals, you will probably win.