"Those guys are very hard to find," said Kings linemate Marian Gaborik, who has found tremendous chemistry with his center. "I don't think he gets the credit he should around the league. He's one of the top two-way players out there. It's been fun to play with him, of course."
Blackhawks: Bryan Bickell
After breaking out with 17 points (9 goals, 8 assists) in 23 playoff games last year, including that huge tying goal in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals, Bickell signed a $16 million, four-year deal, which certainly looked in line with the kind of power forward he became last spring. But then came this season, where he slumped to just 15 points (11 goals, 4 assists) in 59 games, and one wondered where that Bickell of last spring went? Ah, but then came spring again. Bickell is tied with Patrick Kane for the team lead with six goals in 12 games and has also posted three assists. He's back!
"I know we've been looking for Bick to get that consistency in his game here for some time,'' Hawks head coach Joel Quenneville told reporters in Chicago on Friday. "It was kind of like when he was in the minors and when he got here. Whether it was some shifts he was rolling, some shifts he was, we were looking for more. Probably throughout his career until he basically went to a whole new level in the playoffs last year that he seemed to put everything together.
"We've seen in this year's playoffs he's kind of very comparable of where he was last year. So, it's tough to say why. But as a staff and probably as an individual, we'd like to see, he'd probably like to be more consistent. We'd like to see more consistency out of him. But then again, you play like this in the playoffs, the most important time, and you rise to that challenge and you make an impact or an imprint on games the way he has, it's a great strength that you're able to play at this level.''
Kings: Justin Williams
Especially if there's a Game 7, right?
He did it again Friday night, opening the scoring plus adding an assist, which gives him six goals and six assists in six career Game7s. Simply amazing. Talk about clutch.
"He's a big-game player, a lot of people don't realize what Justin does for this team," Doughty said Friday night. "He's one of our best players. He doesn't get enough credit for it. I'm really for him to have continued the Game 7 trend he's got going."
Blackhawks: Corey Crawford
The Blackhawks goaltender was solid last spring in leading his team to the Stanley Cup, although he didn't really steal that many games, which is why he didn't warrant enough support for the Conn Smythe Trophy. Again, he had a solid season, his .917 save percentage 22nd among NHL goalies, but nothing that really grabbed your attention. But in these playoffs, he's been downright terrific, leading all NHL goalies both in save percentage (.931) and goals-against average (1.97).
He'll be going up against the best of the best in Jonathan Quick. So is Crawford getting enough respect around the league?