There are three stories of interest coming out of Anaheim these days. The first is that Teemu Selanne, in the words of one sports reporter, refuses to act his age. The second is the eruption of winger Corey Perry, who has 15 points (including 11 goals) in his last 8 games. And finally is a goaltending conundrum that has three brand-name goaltenders struggling to put two wins together as the team claws towards a playoff spot.
The Ducks and the Blackhawks have both won 3 of their last 4 games, they are both locked in a tight battle for a playoff spot (the ‘Hawks in 7th, the Ducks in 8th in the Western Conference Standings), and they are both handing bonus points to opponents by allowing games to be pushed into overtime. Neither team can lose this game — but somebody will.
Teemu Selanne (Remember him? The guy that played so well on a line with Paul Kariya about a century ago?) is third in the league in power-play goals, and his play in the last two weeks can only be described as “en fuego.” He would be the most dangerous player on the ice for the Ducks, were it not for winger Corey Perry.
Perry has moved up to second in the league in goals, third in points, and top-five in PPG. This has spurned on the Hart Trophy talk lobbed in Perry’s direction, and should be enough impetus for the ‘Hawks’ defense to keep him well covered this evening.
The Ducks’ goaltending is their shaky spot, with the returning Jonas Hiller being yanked less than 12 minutes into the game against Nashville. He had been out with dizziness symptoms since February 3rd, and his return was less than impressive. Veterans Dan Ellis has been handling the load, with the recently-recalled Ray Emery stepping in when needed. But on any given night either one of those guys would let their team down.
On the Blackhawks’ side, we should expect to see the same lineup as the last couple of games, there is no change to the ill and injured: Patrick Sharp’s knee injury should keep him out this coming week at least, and Dave Bolland has made little progress in his recovery from Aquagenic Urticaria. Brian Campbell made his return last game against Florida, and we should see him at full capacity tonight. And it was a solid, if uneventful debut for rookie (hell, newly-patriated!) Marcus Kruger. As he gets his legs under him we should see him start to blossom.
Administrative nonsense: left wing Matt Beleskey was recalled from Syracuse and will be in the lineup tonight; Ray Emery is the likely starter for Anaheim, Corey Crawford gets the nod for the Blackhawks. A win will put him at the 30-win mark, and amplify the Calder Trophy talk from the eager Chicago journalists. My money’s on Logan Couture. Sorry, Crawdad.
We’ve taken two out of three from these guys this season, but they edged us 2 – 1 the last time out. A win tonight puts the Blackhawks up to 90 points, and back into 5th in the West. A win for Anaheim jumps them over Chicago to 7th, but no further. As for the game going to overtime, or whatever else goes on tonight with other teams, figure it out for yourself. My brain hurts.
7:30 puck drop at the United Center tonight. Comcast SportsNet has your TV coverage, broadcast radio provided by WGN AM-720, and XM subscribers should turn to channel 238.
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