Mike Richards’ Injury Gives Blackhawks Golden Opportunity to Put Kings Away

Of the myriad of factors that determine the Stanley Cup champion, luck is perhaps the most underestimated—mainly because it's so hard to quantify.

There is no determining when the injury bug will hit, or when an unheralded player will suddenly have the game of his life. It's those little things, the minor breaks in luck, that so often determine how the NHL playoffs play out—especially as parity continues to reign supreme. 

No team knows that better than the Los Angeles Kings.

While it's become a near-guarantee that every year a goalie will get blazing hot and spearhead his team's playoff run, it's almost impossible to predict who that will be. Last year, that man was Jonathan Quick. Already an ascending talent, Quick stood on his head in the postseason. He went 16-4 in net and allowed a paltry 1.41 goals per game, saving almost 95 percent of opposing shots in the process.

It was Quick's play that was the catalyst for the Kings' run. They became the first No. 8 seed to ever win the Stanley Cup, tying the NHL record with 10 road wins in the process. Quick was so good that not even home-ice advantage could stop him. 

This year, the Kings have fallen to the opposite side of the luck spectrum. While Quick has still been phenomenal, he's been unable to save Los Angeles from the most dire truth of the NHL playoffs—injury luck.

Coach Darryl Sutter's line rotations have been in a constant state of flux in these playoffs, as injuries have piled up from all across the ice. The team has been without Jarret Stoll and seen plenty of other bruises and scrapes create a mountain of injuries that makes the defending Cup champions look more like a M.A.S.H. unit than a repeat contender.

And yet the team has persevered, thanks to Quick and a toughness that has become synonymous with this bunch.

However, with the Kings preparing for the fourth game of their We...

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