Tonight will be the first match-up of the year between the Kings and Blackhawks. Last season, Chicago took all four games in the series, pushing their win streak over Los Angeles to six straight and they’re 9-0-1 in the last 10 meetings overall.
Now, three of the Kings’ starting defensemen weigh in with some thoughts…
Drew Doughty – “We know how good they are. We know all their skilled players and what they’re all about. It’s going to be a tough task for us. We need to come out with a win. We can’t be satisfied with only getting three out of four points every time. We need to be winning every game if we can against teams like Chicago, and we have San Jose right after that. There are two huge games for us and we really need to win both of them.”
Jack Johnson – “They’re still a great team, they still have their top players there and they’re some of the top players in the league. Kane, Toews, Hossa, Sharp – those are great players. They’re going to be a tough team to play, for sure. I feel like every time we talk about the next team, we’re going to say ‘they’re a tough team.’ But, that’s just the way it is now. That’s the NHL wants it. The margin for error is so small, a bounce here or there can determine a hockey game.”
Johnson on Patrick Kane – “A lot of people didn’t give him his due credit at first because he was small, maybe not the strongest guy. But, he’s one of the smartest guys out there. He’s probably one of the most talented players I’ve ever played with. He never puts himself in a position to get hit or have his size be something of a concern. He makes every player he plays with better. I’ve been fortunate to play with him quite a bit (as a member of Team USA).”
Willie Mitchell on what makes Chicago special – “I just think experience is the number one thing. They’ve won a Cup, last year they took a team who was arguably the best team in the NHL (Vancouver) and they took them to seven games in the first round, even though they were down early on. So, I think it’s just experience and knowing what it takes to win.”
Mitchell on Chicago’s roster – “I have a lot of respect for their captain, Jonathan Toews. I think he competes hard and plays hard every night. He can take over a game on his own too. I also think they made some nice additions this year. Everyone was talking about us making a big push when we added some players, along with San Jose, Boston, Pittsburgh, etc. Chicago snuck under the radar by having their whole team back, but making some nice additions. They lost Brain Campbell, but that was a big salary and allowed them some cap space to bring in a veteran presence like Sean O’Donnell and Andrew Brunette to complement all the great pieces they already had. I think they’ll be a team that’s going to be there at the end this year. So, (we) have a healthy respect for them and look forward to playing one of the top teams in the league and seeing where we match up.”
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