The Chicago Blackhawks are set to wrap up a grueling stretch of hockey as they take on the Los Angeles Kings Sunday night at the United Center.
The Blackhawks, who have lost their last three games and four of their last six, will have played five games in seven days when the final horn sounds on Sunday night, and they’ll be looking forward to some badly needed rest as injuries and wear and tear have taken their toll on the squad.
The Blackhawks’ latest defeat came on Saturday night in a late-starting game against the Dallas Stars. Anton Forsberg stopped 33 shots, and Brandon Saad scored his 10th goal of the season, but it wasn’t enough as the Stars won their second straight against the Blackhawks in a 3-2 shootout victory.
The loss is just the latest for a Blackhawks squad that had seemingly found its form earlier in the month of November. With Corey Crawford on the shelf and with players like Richard Panik struggling, the Blackhawks have hit a stumbling block, and it’s a less than ideal time to take on the surging Kings, who have won four games in a row and have been in Chicago since Friday night waiting for the Hawks to return to town.
Forsberg will start his second straight game for the Blackhawks in Crawford’s absence, and Joel Quenneville hinted that there might be other lineup changes as he looks to shake things up.
The Key: Power Play Creativity
The Blackhawks were starting to figure things out on the man-advantage, scoring a power play goal in four straight games, but since then they’ve come tumbling back to Earth, going 1-for-13 in their last three contests.
Couple that with the fact that the Kings are the proud owners of the best penalty killing unit in the NHL, and the Blackhawks are looking at a formidable obstacle as they try to get out of their losing rut at the United Center.