Blackhawks face Kings to kick off two-week road trip

The last time the Blackhawks (30-15-2) faced the Los Angeles Kings, they enjoyed a 4-1 win on Staples Center ice to close out the Circus Trip.

This time around, they're opening up their second western swing of the season against the Stanley Cup defenders, who are looking a little less royal as of late. The Kings have struggled this season, going 20-15-12; they sit at 5th in the Pacific/9th in the West with 52 points -- looking up in the standings at the Calgary Flames (26-19-3/55 points).

A few years ago, the Blackhawks-Canucks rivalry was one of the best in the West; today, it's been firmly replaced by Chicago-LA. They've now knocked each other out of the playoffs a couple times and swapped the Stanley Cup back and forth; last season's Western Conference Final was far more thrilling than the Stanley Cup Final that followed it.

Less than a week ago, these players were teammates in Columbus: Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty shared a bench with Duncan Keith and Patrick Kane. Wednesday night, they'll be back in their rightful positions, facing each other over center ice. Jonathan Quick - the league's reigning Jenning Trophy winner - sat home from the All-Star Game, his numbers just average this year.

Quick is expected to start for LA; Corey Crawford will start for Chicago.

Mike Richards was waived and sent down to the AHL this week; the veteran's play has been so-so this season. He could potentially be traded, but Richards has one of those monster contracts which other teams will hesitate to pick up if his play isn't up to par. The Blackhawks recalled forward Dennis Rasmussen from the AHL to fill in the roster void left by Kris Versteeg being placed on LTIR this weekend.


Chicago: Kris Versteeg (hand) had his first day back on the ice today; Trevor Van Riemsdyk remains out with a leg fracture but is expected to begin skating next week.

Los Angeles: Tanner Pearson (broken leg); Tyler Toffoli (mono) is expected to play.