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Los Angeles Kings Are Holding On By A Quickly Unraveling Thread As They Face Elimination

LA Kings center Anze Kopitar, shown here during a recent practice
session, has scored just two goals in his last 33 games
(17 playoff games and 16 regular season games).
Photo: David Sheehan/FrozenRoyalty.net

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Kings are in Chicago, hours away from a win-or-go home Game 5 matchup against the Chicago Blackhawks, who lead their best-of-seven Western Conference Final playoff series, 3-1.

The Blackhawks, even without their top defenseman, Duncan Keith (suspended), used their superior speed and surprisingly strong physical play to force the Kings into numerous turnovers and to keep Kings forwards on the perimeter throughout most of Game 4, a 3-2 Chicago victory that was not as close as the score might indicate.

Indeed, the disparity in quality scoring chances fell heavily in favor of the Blackhawks, who could have easily won this game by a two or three-goal margin, if not for the strong play of Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick, even though the Blackhawks’ first goal by forward Bryan Bickell was a soft goal.

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2013 Western Conference Finals: Goaltending, Physical Style Should Help LA Kings Advance Past Chicago Blackhawks

EL SEGUNDO, CA — Heading into Game 1 of the 2013 Western Conference Finals, the Los Angeles Kings face their greatest challenge yet this season in the President’s Trophy-winning Chicago Blackhawks.

Having lost two of the three games against Chicago in the regular season might be a red flag for many. But the Kings won the last contest between the two teams on March 25, 5-4, at a time when the Kings were different team than the one the Blackhawks faced earlier in the season.

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LA Kings Need More Than Goals To Advance Past St. Louis Blues

EL SEGUNDO, CA — Heading into tonight’s Game 4 of their first round playoff series against the St. Louis Blues (7:00 PM PDT, Staples Center; televised regionally on CNBC in the United States, CBC and RDS in Canada, and on Fox Sports West in Southern California), the Los Angeles Kings find themselves back in the series, having won Game 3 on May 4, 1-0, at Staples Center, cutting the Blues’ lead in the series by half.

That said, the Kings know that they are still not playing as well as they can, or as they need to, if they expect to advance to the Western Conference Semifinals.

What stares you in the face most is the fact that the Kings have scored just one goal in each game of this series.

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St. Louis Blues Present A Different Challenge For LA Kings This Time Around

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Kings qualified for the 2013 post-season party as the fifth seed in the Western Conference, and will face the St. Louis Blues in the first round, with Game 1 in St. Louis tonight (5:00 PM PDT, televised in Southern California on Prime Ticket).

For those who may still have the Kings’ sweep of the Blues in the second round of last season’s playoffs on their minds and believe that the Kings will enjoy similar success this time around, you can forget about that.

In fact, the Blues are likely to give the Kings a serious run for the money, and they have a good chance of winning the series, even though the Kings dominated the Blues in head-to-head competition during the regular season, sweeping the three games and outscoring them 14-7 in those contests.

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