Blackhawks, Kings hungry for another Stanley Cup run
By Larry Fine
(Reuters) - The defending National Hockey League champion Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings have applied a Western Conference stranglehold on the Stanley Cup in recent years and both are fixed on pinning down another title.
The trend has the Kings next in line, having won in 2012 and 2014, while the Blackhawks hoisted the silver chalice in 2013 and 2015 after launching their dominant run with a 2010 triumph.
Both are well rounded, physical teams that have developed an elite core of players and supplemented them with deft drafting, trades and signings to stay strong in this complex age of salary cap juggling.
Los Angeles (48-28-6) have consistently been one of the NHL's top defensive clubs under coach Darryl Sutter with goalie Jonathan Quick a stalwart, last line of defense in the net.
Slovenian center Anze Kopitar leads the Kings' rush, scoring 74 points (25 goals and 49 assists) with an impressive plus-34 rating while on the ice.
Jeff Carter follows with 62 points and young winger Tyler Toffoli, 23, has a team-high 31 goals. Veteran winger Milan Lucic, with 55 points, rounds out their big guns, augmented by two-way defensemen Drew Doughty (51) and Jake Muzzin (40).
Chicago (47-26-9) have flashed a more potent attack, sparked by lightning quick Patrick Kane, while goalie Corey Crawford has shown he can get on a championship roll.
Kane became the first U.S.-born player to win the Art Ross Trophy as NHL leading scorer in registering 106 points and first Blackhawks player to win the award since Stan Mikita claimed it for the fourth time in the 1967-68 season. Continued...