CHICAGO — What’s a playoff series without a little bit — or a lot — of animosity?
The Kings were unhappy about a huge hit delivered by Chicago center Dave Bolland against center Mike Richards on Saturday during the third period of the Blackhawks’ 2-1 victory in the opener of the teams’ Western Conference Finals playoff series. The Blackhawks were just as angry over a hard hit by Kings captain Dustin Brown on Chicago captain Jonathan Toews in the final minute of the game, as the Blackhawks played keep-away during a power play.
Since the Kings skipped the morning skate on Sunday at the United Center and put off their required interviews until later in the afternoon, the Blackhawks got to have their say on what happened Saturday. The NHL did not suspend Bolland or Brown; a review for possible supplementary discipline had to be done quickly because the teams will play Game 2 of their series Sunday night, a scheduling quirk caused by the Rolling Stones having booked the arena for several nights.
Bolland appeared to have caught Richards with a shoulder-to-chin hit that apparently didn’t meet the NHL’s sometimes-fuzzy standards for being judged a hit that made the head the principal point of contact. Brown appeared to have caught Toews with an elbow to the throat. A league executive confirmed Sunday that it had taken no follow-up action on Brown's hit.
Toews said he and his teammates are aware that the Kings would be physical and that they have to keep an eye on Brown.
“We know that he's going to be looking for stuff like that. Just got to be aware of it,” Toews said. “I think they were maybe a little frustrated we were moving the puck around the outside without even two minutes left to go in the game, just trying to kill time on the power play.
“I kind of expect him to do something like that. We have to be aware of what they're going to try and be physical on us.”
Coach Joel Quenneville, asked whether the Blackhawks had heard from the league about possible punishment for Bolland, pretended not to know anything about it. He had to have known — the league made it clear Saturday night that no hearing would be held for Bolland — but he took the safe road there. He did the same in discussing whether the physicality will escalate quickly.
“I think you want to make sure you're playing hard within the whistles. We want to be smart with the physicality, make sure we bring it,” he said. “We expect a hard forechecking game. We want to make sure we're smart and disciplined, and staying out of the [penalty] box is priority.”
Toews echoed that sentiment.
“We know it's going to be a physical series. That's what we expect from them,” he said. “They're a team that wants to win. They're willing to do whatever it takes. We have to be the same way. “For the most part we want to be smart and stay out of the stuff after the whistle. That gets nothing done for us. We'll continue doing that.”
Kings Coach Darryl Sutter and a few members of the Kings are scheduled to talk to the media at about 2 p.m. PT, and we’ll have that coverage later on Sports Now.
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