Frolik-Kruger pairing has been huge dividends
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Joel Quenneville has pushed so many of the right buttons this season.
But the best move by the Blackhawks' coach might have been putting Michael Frolik and Marcus Kruger together as penalty killers before the year started.
"I think it was experience from the first game of the season," Quenneville said before Sunday's 4-2 win over the Kings in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals. "These guys have carved out a niche for themselves, got more ice time, got these guys involved. They seemed to hit it off right off the bat. They have some quickness, anticipate well together. Starting to communicate a little bit more right from the outset.
"When we got them on the first, third and sometimes fifth rotation of a PK, they relish that extra ice time. They took quality ice time away from our top guys, but helped in the 5-on-5 play."
Hawks defenseman Johnny Oduya said Frolik and Kruger remind him of his former New Jersey Devils teammates John Madden and Jay Pandolfo.
"Two smart players, the same as Krugs and Fro," Oduya said. "They have that way of being smart, read off of each other, know when to go, when not to go, put themselves in positions.
"They're not huge shot-blockers, but if you're smart enough to put yourself in the right position, you don't have to block as many shots. They show that consistently all the time.
"It's tough to say why it works. I think it's chemistry. For those guys, obviously, they don't get enough credit."
Part of the game:
Jonathan Toews shrugged off Dustin Brown's attempted cheap shot in the final minute of Game 1.
"We know that he's going to be looking for stuff like that." Toews said. "You just got to be aware of it. 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."
Jumping into the play:
After initiating both goals in Game 1, Hawks defensemen again figured into the scoring in Game 2.
"You always want to get pucks to the net, people to the net, create rebounds, screens, tips, whatever it is, especially against a good goalie like that," said Johnny Oduya, whose slap shot set up Patrick Sharp's rebound goal in the second period of the series opener. "You don't create any commotion around the net, it's going to be really easy for (goalie Jonathan Quick)."
In Sunday's game, Brent Seabrook scored a goal while Nick Leddy set up Andrew Shaw's goal with a nice pinch along the boards.
Kings center Mike Richards was a late scratch with what the team called an upper body injury. Richards was hit high by Dave Bolland in the final two minutes of Game 1.
Kings coach Darryl Sutter said Richards didn't feel right after the warmup.
"He was fine today, then I think just once his blood got pumping tonight, the adrenaline got going, there were symptoms," Sutter said. "I went in right after warmup, he was sitting there and I said, 'Unless you're 100 percent, you're not playing.' Obviously, it's a big hole."
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