Jan 17, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane (88) is defended by Anaheim Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm (47) during the third period at the United Center. The Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Anaheim Ducks 4-2. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
The Chicago Blackhawks have played well, so far, on their 7-game road trip, and they hope to keep it going, tonight, against the NHL’s best team(most points accumulated), the Anaheim Ducks.
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This is a very evenly matched game, statistically. It’s hard to pick the team that has the edge. While the Ducks are a better defensive team, as well as overall goaltending, the Blackhawks are by far the better possession team. Anaheim struggles in the faceoff circle, while the Blackhawks are one of the NHL’s better teams, in that category. If this trend continues, and the Hawks are able to avoid the careless turnovers, that have plagued them, recently, they should win this game.
The Ducks lead the Pacific Division, as well as the NHL, with 85 standings points, but have struggled a bit, recently, going 5-5-0, in their last 10 games, having lost 2 in a row, as well as 3 of 4, on their current 5 game homestand.
Anaheim may not possess the puck as regularly as you’d expect the best team, in the NHL, to do, but when they have the puck, they are very dangerous with it. The Ducks are lead by Hart Memorial Trophy favorite, Ryan Getzlaf, who is having his finest season, of his career. 2010-2011 Hart winner, Corey Perry, is also having a great season. Hampus Lindholm is having a phenomenal season, from the blueline, and should be in the Calder Trophy, as he is one of the league’s top rookies. Although he isn’t having his best season, you can never truly count out, future hall of famer, Teemu Selanne.
In net, will likely be Jonas Hiller, who is having a very good season. Hiller, who has safely removed himself from trade rumors, has put up a .915 save percentage, in his 37 games played.
The Blackhawks are holding onto the mirage that is 1st place, in the Central Division. They have a slim 2 point lead, over the St. Louis Blues, who have played in 3 fewer games, than the Blackhawks. The Hawks have been inconsistent, lately, as they have gone 4-2-4, in their last 10 games. On this brutal road trip, however, the Hawks are 2-0-2, so far, which is definitely manageable.
Patrick Kane is definitely back to his MVP-like season, especially after a very spirited and emotional game, against the Los Angeles Kings, following the death of his grandfather. Patrick Sharp has also returned to the pace of his career year, with 5 points, in his last 5 games. Jonathan Toews has been his usual self, all season, putting up points and playing Selke quality defense. Duncan Keith is well on his way to his 2nd career Norris Trophy, with his offensive fire starting play, and elite puck thievery.
Corey Crawford will be in net, for the Hawks, tonight. Crawford has had a fine season, with a .914 save percentage, in 40 games played, this season.
In the final matchup, between these 2 elite teams(in the regular season, at least) the season series is up for grabs, and it could go either way. The Ducks are trying to salvage an already disappointing homestand, while the Blackhawks are trying to continue a productive road trip, to officially put their “slump”, in the past. It should be a great game!