The Blackhawks on Monday night go for the season sweep of the Los Angeles Kings, and I honestly can't remember when that ever happened. Certainly not since the lockout would be the guess here.
Considering how good of a team the Kings are (or at least should be) this is something of note.
The big story for the Hawks is that Jonathan Toews is back, a mere six days after suffering a shoulder injury was supposed to keep him out at least two weeks. He and the coaches say it's OK, but I'll believe it when I see it.
The Hawks right now have two starts, Marian Hossa and Patrick Kane, who have returned from injury and have been about as visible as that schooner in those 3D photos in the mall. Hopefully, Toews is capable of more, and he'll have to be.
The Kings come in having lost three in a row, and not in a good way either. They were blown out by Phoenix and Philadelphia before getting shut out by the Sharks at home.
Los Angeles is struggling because they have the same problems we said they had the last time we saw them: they only have one premier scorer. That's Anze Kopitar of the 41 point on the year. When he's good, the Kings are good. Notice his third period tour-de-force four games ago in San Jose where he had three assists leading to a 4-0 destruction of the Sharks.
When he's not all that noticeable, the Kings struggle to score enough.
The Kings are built from the back end, with a stout blue line and a goalie playing out of his mind. Jonathan Quick is in the top five in the league in goals-against and save-percentage. He, at-worst, keeps the Kings in every game. At best, he wins it for them.
Scuderi, in particular, gets lost in the overhyped Doughty-for-Norris buzz, but he's been excellent this season. Johnson keeps improving and has seven points in his last seven games. When Doughty concentrates on something other than cross-checking anything that moves, he's a top tier D-man.
But other than Johnson, this group doesn't have excellent skating skills, though it's not nearly the disaster that Anaheim is. If the Hawks can replicate the energy and forecheck of Sunday night's third period, they'll cause problems.
Outside of that, keep Kopitar in check, and you should be right there. But more importantly, it's time the Hawks realize they are out of time to "find it."
The playoffs basically start now. Act like it.