Blackhawks News

Game Preview: Chicago Blackhawks Take on Anaheim Ducks in Battle of Western Conference Favorites

By Brian Kinkade

Jan 17, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews (19) tries to get a shot around Anaheim Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller (1) and defenseman Cam Fowler (4) during the first period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off a losing streak prevention victory over the Ottawa Senators, the Chicago Blackhawks welcome the Anaheim Ducks to the United Center.  Albeit early, currently the Ducks are the top team in the Western Conference, which should come as no surprise as they are considered one of the elite teams, along with the Blackhawks.

The Ducks are firing on all cylinders as they kick-off a a 4-game road trip, tonight in Chicago.  Anaheim has won 7 of it’s last 8 games, as they embark on a tough trip that includes visits to St. Louis, Dallas, and Colorado.  All playoff teams, last season.  No surprises here, as Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf pace the Ducks, offensively, with 12 points apiece, after 9 games played.  Big-time offseason acquisition, Ryan Kessler is off to a very solid start, as he seems to be easily adjusting to life in Southern California.  While not known for having elite defensemen, the Ducks do have Cam Fowler piling up minutes on the blueline.  Fowler is one of the more underrated defensemen in the NHL.

In net for the Ducks will be Frederik Andersen.  Andersen, in his first full season as the Ducks primary goaltender, is off to a great start, with a .940 Save Percentage, in 7 games played.

The Hawks win over the Senators, on Sunday, was bigger than it looked.  It prevented a 3-game losing streak in which 2 of the losses were against divisional opponents.  As the Hawks try to sort things out and search for consistency, a win over the Ducks could go a long ways.  Patrick Sharp has been a Power Play extraordinaire, so far, which has him perched at the top of the Hawks’ points list.  Patrick Kane looks to keep rolling, after he recorded his 500th career point, on Sunday.  Not enough has been said about Jonathan Toews’ start to the season.  The perenial slow starter to the season has apparently bucked that trend, as he is off to a very solid start to the season.  Speaking of starts, Marian Hossawho was off to a slow start, now has 2 points in his last 2 games.

The big story, is in net for the Hawks.  Scott Darling, who was excellent in his NHL debut, on Sunday, as he earned his first career victory, will once again be the starting goaltender, for the Hawks.

This will be the first of a 3-game season series between the Hawks and Ducks.  The Hawks were 2-1, against the Ducks, last season.  This could very well be a playoff preview, but it’s sort of lame to be saying that so early in season, but whatever.  A win tonight could help force things to come together for the Hawks, as the Ducks serve as a good measuring stick to see where the Hawks currently stand.

Go Hawks!