LOS ANGELES -- Michal Handzus has earned himself a position of prominence with the Blackhawks as the much-sought-after second-line center.
Acquired near the trade deadline from San Jose as a depth center for a fourth-round draft pick, Handzus finds himself in the middle of the second line between Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp.
Handzus has 8 points in 14 playoff games and scored his second goal in the Hawks' 4-2 victory Sunday in Game 2.
Handzus also scored a big goal early in the third period of Game 6 against Detroit to spark the Hawks' comeback.
"When we first got him, we figured he'd give us a little more depth," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "All of a sudden he moved up the ladder where all of a sudden he's playing in that nice slot for us. That's a big line for us.
"He's one of those guys that quietly goes about his business. He's a smart hockey player, very competitive. Seems like he's always in the right spot. He does everything he can to get himself ready to contribute on a regular basis here."
This is the third time Sharp has been teammates with Handzus.
"Yeah, I played with Handzus on three different teams now," Sharp said. "I played with him in Philadelphia maybe 10 years ago. I was just getting started, but I think he had his career season there in Philadelphia.
"He's a guy that can play in every situation. He has an offensive touch that he probably doesn't get enough credit for. He's good on faceoffs, can play defensively and can play special teams.
"The thing he's added to our team more than anything is leadership. He says the right things at the right time. He's a guy that clearly wants to win at this stage in his career. You can tell he really has that passion to get it done this year."
Corey besting Quick:
Jonathan Quick entered the series with all the hype, but it has been Corey Crawford outplaying the Kings' goalie so far in this series.
Crawford had a lot of questions to answer about his game along the way this season.
"I think we have a lot of confidence in Corey," Joel Quenneville said. "You get that job of being the No. 1 goalie, expectations become different and teams are ready.
"We still felt he's capable of being an elite goalie, a top goalie. This year he was ready to go. The consistency of his game was in place. That really was the key to our season, the goaltending with the tandem we had (with Crawford and Ray Emery). He did what he had to do all year long and didn't change his approach whether there were a couple of goals in."
The Hawks love Crawford as a teammate because of things like in Game 2 when he grabbed Kyle Clifford from behind while Clifford was taking liberties with Jonathan Toews.
"We're happy to have him back there," Duncan Keith said. "Rock solid.
"He's played great so far. It's only a couple of games, so we don't want to get ahead of ourselves. It's a long series, but Crow has been great. He's made some big saves when we needed him to, and he's done that all year long for us."
The Hawks always have been a good road team in the playoffs, perhaps because of how they are treated by management.
"On the road in the playoffs at this time of year, the Hawks do a good job of making it easy on us," Patrick Sharp said. "They set up a lounge with all kinds of food, drinks, video games. Always have the basketball games on, hockey games on. It's a fun atmosphere to go down there and hang around with your teammates.
"We don't see enough of each other in Chicago with the families, people doing their own thing. It's always been fun to be on the road, be together, thinking hockey all the time."
Brent Seabrook enjoys it as well.
"It's something cool the Blackhawks have done the last couple years, set up a room and have some TVs in there so we can goof around and have some fun," he said.
If the Kings don't have Mike Richards for Game 3 on Tuesday, it will be a major loss for them for the second game in a row.
"I played with Richie, won a championship with him in the American League," Patrick Sharp said. "I think everybody knows what type of player he is, how valuable he is to whatever team he's playing on. He's won at every level.
"When you take a guy like that out of their lineup, I'll let them answer how it affects their team. Who knows what's going to happen going forward, but I'm sure it's a big loss for them."