Blackhawks-Kings: Game 5 preview

Blackhawks-Kings: Game 5 preview
June 8, 2013, 5:45 pm
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With a little help from the NHL’s Public Relations staff, here’s a sneak peak at  Game 5 of the Western Conference Final between the Los Angeles Kings and Chicago Blackhawks [8 p.m., NBC]:

Rolling: The Blackhawks have won six of their last seven games, including their last four on home ice. They have outscored their opponents, 20-13, in that span.
United: The Blackhawks are 8-1 at home this postseason and have outscored their opponents, 29-14, at UnitedCenter. The Kings are 1-7 on the road, where they have been outscored, 11-18.

No Richie? Kings coach Darryl Sutter said there’s a 50-50 chance center Mike Richards will return to the lineup after missing Games 2, 3 and 4 with an apparent head injury. [Editorial note: the NHLPA would advise any player with a head injury that is 50-50 to sit out].

BB: Chicago forward Bryan Bickell has recorded at least one point in each of the first four games of the Western Conference Final [3-2-5]. His eight goals this postseason are tied for second in the league [with teammate Patrick Sharp], while his 11 points rank third on the Blackhawks. Bickell had seven career postseason points [4-3-7 in 15 games] entering these playoffs.

CC: Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford has allowed two or fewer goals in seven of his last eight games, including five straight. He leads the League with a 1.72 goals-against average and ranks third with a .936 save percentage.

Star in the making: Los Angeles defenseman Slava Voynov leads all NHL blueliners and is tied for first on the Kings with six goals this postseason [17 games] – that matches his total from the entire regular season (48 games). Voynov also places second among defensemen with 12 points and a plus-10 rating in the playoffs.

Gonchar in the Big D: Former Capitals All-Star defenseman Sergei Gonchar may end his NHL career in Dallas. The Ottawa Senators have traded his rights to the Stars in exchange for a conditional sixth-round choice in the June 30 draft in Newark.

If Dallas signs Gonchar, 39, to a contract prior to the draft, Dallas will transfer its sixth-round selection to Ottawa. Gonchar is eligible to become a free agent on July 5.

"We thank Sergei for his efforts in Ottawa," Senators general manager and former Caps coach Bryan Murray said in a statement. "We felt that this trade will give Sergei the opportunity to extend his career in the NHL and we wish him success with the Stars."

Gonchar scored three goals and added 24 assists in 45 games during the regular season for the Senators while averaging 23:59 of ice time. He added six assists in 10 playoff games.

“We just had our pro meetings and we think Sergei Gonchar is one of the top free agents available this year,” Stars general manager Jim Nill said. “We want to make our team better, we want to improve our defense and Sergei has been a great player for many years in the league. He’s a high-end, character player. We know he’s going to bring leadership to the team on the ice and off the ice. He’s going to help with our power play. He’s been a great player for many years. To have the opportunity to grab a player like this is something we’ve been looking to do since I came on board.”