Kings raise Stanley Cup banner, Blackhawks lower the boom

Kings raise Stanley Cup banner, Blackhawks lower the boom

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Stanley Cup banner ceremonies are usually a kiss of death for the home club and Saturday afternoon was no exception. Give the Blackhawks credit as they had a solid effort but the Kings played like they had been out all night. Certainly the emotions of receiving their championship rings and a long ceremony provided a reason for the boys from LA to not have the required focus to start the game. The Blackhawks jumped on the Kings scoring the first four goals of the contest, en route to a 5-2 victory.

The good news is the Blackhawks kept it simple, supported one another and their best players were difference makers. It's great to have big contribution from Marian Hossa, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews but the helper bees also played a big role. It was a complete team victory.

The third and fourth lines kept control of play while winning board battles. Andrew Shaw's group and the fourth line centered by Marcus Kruger played well on both sides of the puck. Hard working Michael Frolik fired a laser past Jonathan Quick and stained the score sheet with a goal. So the Hawks got contributions from top to bottom.

The defense was fine for the first game as Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook were in good form. Niklas Hjalmarsson was the most impressive ending up a +2 for the game. He played with confidence and logged 21:03 of ice time with 5:01 coming while shorthanded.

Johnny Oduya was also used as a prime penalty killer along with Hjalmarsson. If those two can help lessen the burden for Keith and Seabrook by eating up ice time on the penalty killing unit, Joel Quenneville should be a happy man.

It is much easier to spread out the minutes while playing with a three and four goal lead, so Sunday it will be interesting to see how the ice time is distributed. As far as the first game was concerned the workload was spread out nicely.

Unfortunately Daniel Carcillo may have suffered a serious knee injury once again. Midway through the third period, Carcillo was rubbed off a play along the boards by Drew Doughty and appeared to twist and fall awkwardly. Doughty's check wasn't dirty but he was whistled for a two minute interference penalty. Carcillo stayed down for awhile and then left the ice under his own power. After the game, Quenneville commented Carcillo may be out for some time.

Quenneville has a habit of downplaying injuries. When he mentions a player will be out for "some time," the first question in my mind is if surgery will be needed. I'm speculating Carcillo in fact injured his knee, but it could have been something else, possibly his hip. At this time, no details as to the severity or the exact nature of the injury have been released. It is safe to assume Carcillo will be out of action against Phoenix.

Rookie Brandon Saad was a healthy scratch Saturday and seems the most likely replacement for Carcillo. Saad has more skill but doesn't bring the gritty element like Carcillo.

Sunday's contest will be a test of how well the Hawks can control their emotions. The Coyotes eliminated them from the playoffs and the clubs don't like each other. Raffi Torres won't be in the lineup because he is still serving a suspension for a dirty hit on Hossa in the playoffs. There should be a big crowd in Phoenix and most of them could be Blackhawk fans as many transplanted Chicagoans live in that area.

Quenneville will have to make decision as to whether to start Corey Crawford in net once again. The Hawks play three games in four nights and if Ray Emery was going to get a start this would be the game. My guess is Coach Q. will stick with Crawford as he played a solid game versus the Kings. With a little luck, Crawford could have recorded his first shutout in two seasons.

Al's Shots

Coming off the flu, in a lopsided contest which was the front end of back-to-back games, Toews still recorded 18:47 of ice time. That was the most playing time of any Blackhawk forward. It's less than usual but not a very light load for Toews. The Hawks captain might have a little Michael Jordan in him as he finished the game a +3, with a goal and one assist.

The Hawks won 49 percent of their faceoffs, with Toews registering a 64 percent clip winning 16 out of 25 draws.

The Kings outhit the Hawks 39-22 but for the most part they were the ones chasing the puck.

The Hawks scored one power play goal while on a 5 on 3 advantage. In general they moved the puck around with the man advantage but still need to generate more shots.

If Brandon Bollig keeps playing as well as he did versus LA, he will secure a permanent spot on the fourth line.

I was a little disappointed with Sheldon Brookbank as he needs to play to his size and hold his position in front of the net. It's only one game and I think he can be better and more physical.

I will be back Monday morning to discuss the Phoenix game.

Follow me on Twitter @AlCimaglia

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