Game #33- Anaheim Ducks (22-7-4, 48 points) vs. Chicago Blackhawks (25-4-3, 53 points)
Radio- WGN 720 AM
Puck drop- 7:30 PM Central Time
Season Series- The Ducks have earned victories in both games played against the Blackhawks this season(3-2 in the Shootout on February 12th, and 4-2 on March 20th) as they look to sweep the only team that they trail in the Western Conference standings.
Preview- Just like on March 20th, this is another Prime Time match up between the top two teams in the Western Conference, late in the season, complete with an abundance of playoff implications, and team measuring sticks.
The Blackhawks have been off since their Tuesday night dominating victory over the Calgary Flames, where Ray Emery earned his first shutout since 2010, and has been given the nod to start tonight, from Head Coach Joel Quennevile. The last the Hawks faced the Ducks, they were completely overwhelmed by the Ducks aggressive forechecking and size. That game raised some legitimate concerns over the Hawks’ ability to succeed against teams like the Ducks. Even with the forechecking and size bullying the Hawks all over the ice, the Hawks had the lead heading into the 3rd period, but it was the Ducks style of play, combined with just sloppy, bad hockey from the Blackhawks, that lead to their demise, in that game. This game is indeed very winnable for the Blackhawks. Patrick Kane continues to add to his mountain of points on the season, and Jonathan Toews has been consistently lighting the lamp lately. As long as Emery plays solid, with good team defense in front of him, the Hawks have the offensive firepower, even without Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp out of the lineup. Although, the Power Play has certainly missed the presence of Hossa and Sharp.
The Ducks, have not won since their March 20th victory over the Blackhawks, as they are looking to end their 4-game losing streak. The Ducks are lead by their usual suspects of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, and Bobby Ryan, on the offensive front. Also, you can never truly count out veteran Teemu Selanne to be an offensive threat. Whoever starts in net tonight for the Ducks, it will be no easy task for the Blackhawks, as Viktor Fasth looks to get the start at goaltender tonight, as he ask emerged as a very worthy counterpart to Jonas Hiller. The Ducks will once again look to use their size and forechecking to force the Hawks into making mistakes and playing rushed hockey. This style has proved to be a sort of kryptonite to the Blackhawks, and gives the Ducks a possible edge to work with.
This should be a great team measuring stick for both teams, as is any game where two elite teams face off against each other. The Ducks are looking to end their recent skid, and couldn’t ask for a much more worth opponent than the Blackhawks as a chance to escape their recent funk, while the Blackhawks look to firmly entrench themselves as THE elite team in the Western Conference, and a little revenge too.