Back in the 1980s, Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum was known as Fort Neverlose, as the Islanders rarely ever gave up a game at the old building en route to four consecutive Stanley Cups. Staples Center is a little nicer than the Coliseum (a little) but the Kings are developing the same reputation for being unbeatable there. Thursday night, Los Angeles will take to the Staples Center ice looking to even the 2013 Western Conference Final with the Chicago Blackhawks, and win their 16th straight game in Hollywood.
The Kings also have a slight advantage because Chicago will be one man short. Defenseman Duncan Keith has been suspended for his high stick/slash on Jeff Carter. He will miss only Game 4, but not having him for a contest makes the Blackhawks a weaker defensive team.
Meanwhile, the Kings will look to keep it low-scoring as well. Their win in Game 3 was just the fifth time in 16 post-season games that they've scored more than two goals. Hell, without empty netters, they've scored more than twice just three times. This is a team that is three wins away from a Stanley Cup Final. That is insane, and a huge testament to how good Jonathan Quick is.
So the Blackhawks will look to fight without one of their best defenders and get a game in Los Angeles. A win doesn't ensure their spot in the Stanley Cup Final, but it gives them two shots at home to win the Campbell Bowl. A loss, and it's a best-of-three to determine the Western Conference Champion.
Can Chicago's defense adjust without Duncan Keith?
Sheldon Brookbank will play in place of Duncan Keith for Game 4. He is, by all accounts, a good guy. He is not Duncan Keith. The rest of the Chicago defense -- particularly guys like Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya -- will need to step it up. They will likely play more minutes against better players. If they make the adjustment, it can go a long way to getting a huge victory.
Will Patrick Kane pick it up?
The cover of the Chicago Sun-Times showed this image.
They're not necessarily wrong. The mulleted one has just two goals this entire post-season, and zero in the last seven games. In addition to that, he has looked more or less harmless. Patrick Kane has to look dangerous, like he's capable of anything. He hasn't come close this series. They need more out of him.
Is Jonathan Quick fully back in playoff form on regular rest?
Is that all it really takes? Quick is 8-8-3 in his career on the second of back-to-back nights. He came out on regular rest on Tuesday and shut the Blackhawks down agains. The Kings defense put it on lockdown, but Quick still made all the saves he needed, 19 in all en route to the Game 3 win. With him on regular rest again, well... there might not be a lot of scoring in this one, is what I'm saying.
Time: 9 p.m. ET
TV: NBC Sports Network, CBC