Friday June 7th, 2013

The Los Angeles Kings are on the brink of elimination. End of the road? A trip to Chicago may be it for the defending champs. (Andrew D. Bernstein/NHLI via Getty Images)

By Allan Muir

An annotated guide to this morning's must-read hockey stories:

• The Blackhawks showed off their depth in Thursday's 3-2 win. With Duncan Keith in the press box, four vets stepped up to carry the defensive load for Chicago.

• The Hawks had bemoaned the lack of space that the Kings allowed them through the first three games. They finally got a chance to show what they could do when given a little room to operate.

• With seemingly thousands of Chicago fans in attendance, the Hawks took away the one advantage that Los Angeles had in Game 4: home ice.

• Two third-period shots in a must-win game? An effort like that suggests the Kings are ready to be finished off.

• Not scoring is bad enough. Not committing to defense? That's lethal to the Kings.

• It's never smart to count out the champs until they're officially eliminated, but the Kings looked like a team that had run out of gas on Thursday night. Is it me, or is this kind of the theme here?

Closing out a series has never been Boston's specialty. But facing a lethal opponent like the Penguins, the Bruins can't afford to give them even a glimmer of hope.

• Maybe I'm just overly superstitious, but is it really a good idea for Boston fans to be talking openly about 2011 right now?

Gregory Campbell is out for the season with a broken leg. Rarely has the loss of a fourth liner been mourned by so many.

• Nothing wrong with pandering to your audience, but this might be a bit of a stretch, no?

• Will Dan Bylsma pay the price if the Penguins lose this series? Well, someone's going to take the blame, and it won't be Ray Shero.

It won't be the players, either. At least, it probably won't be, but, um, Kris Letang? Don't go making any long-range plans, just in case...

• No worries, though, because Bylsma says the Penguins "are going to win."  I love a good sports promise!

• Kings' forward Tyler Toffoli is having a bit of fun with his less-than-flattering appearance on the cover of Sports Illustrated this week.

• "The new CBA is here! The new CBA is here! This is the sort of thing that makes people!"

• It appears that a revamped pension plan was one of the keys to finally getting a deal done.

• The new CBA says the two sides "will study the issue of HGH testing." That foot-dragging means an NHL drug scandal is certainly coming, writes Steve Buffery.

• "Health-wise, I shouldn't be playing," said Andy McDonald. The Blues vet announced his retirement yesterday as a result of post-concussion syndrome.

• "In talking to both those guys, I think the best situation would be to be able to move on," said Edmonton GM Craig MacTavish. So, which two Oilers are headed out the door?

• The Flyers are in talks to host an outdoor game at Penn State's Beaver Stadium. The opposition? The Pittsburgh Penguins. Hey, I'm all in favor of more al fresco hockey, but let's let a few more teams get their first shot before we send these two outside with their toques and mittens again.

• Free agent defender Sergei Gonchar is playing the "I'm going home to Russia" card. It's known that he'd prefer to stay in North America, but there doesn't appear to be many options for the 39-year-old. • Catch up with former NHL netminder Dwayne Roloson ahead of his appearance at the prestigious Roger Neilson coaching clinic in Windsor.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.