Blackhawks News

Game Preview: Chicago Blackhawks Continue Circus Trip With Matinee Against Anaheim Ducks

By Brian Kinkade

Feb 5, 2014; Anaheim, CA, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wing Kris Versteeg (23) passes the puck as Anaheim Ducks defenseman Sami Vatanen (45) chases during the third period at the Honda Center. The Blackhawks won 2-0. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

After getting back on track, Wednesday night in Colorado, the Chicago Blackhawks’ circus trip rolls into Southern California for a 3pm Central Time puck-drop for a mettle-testing matchup of Western Conference elites, with themselves and the Anaheim Ducks.

This is the 2nd game of the 3-game season series between the Hawks and Ducks.  In their previous matchup, the Ducks defeated the Hawks, in Chicago, thanks to John Gibson’s shutout.

You can catch today’s game on WGN-Chicago and the NHL Network and you can hear it on WGN 720 AM.

Here’s a statistical breakdown of the Hawks and Ducks.

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Very rarely is there a matchup where one team is leading their opponent in every single category and the game can still be considered an extremely tight matchup.  Today’s game is one of those rare cases.  While the Hawks have the slight edge in this one, with an advantage in every single category listed, the Ducks are right on the Hawks’ heels in almost all of the categories.

Offensively, the Hawks are very good and they will be matched up with the almost equally very good Ducks defense.  Defensively, the Hawks have been elite, and will be facing what has been a middling and, so far, slightly below expectations Ducks’ offense.

Special Teams is practically more of the same.  On the Power Play, the Hawks are one of the better teams in the league and will be facing the one of the league’s better Penalty Kills, with the Ducks.  The Hawks have a legitimate advantage with their league-leading Penalty Kill.  Their man-down unit will be up against the Ducks’ average Power Play.

In regards to possession, the Hawks have an ever-so-slight advantage over Anaheim.  Both teams are towards the top of the league, in both faceoff percentage and Corsi For Percentage, but the Hawks are slightly better in both.  It should be a hard-fought battle, throughout the game, for the puck, and if one team is able to significantly control the puck, it could be bad news for the other, as both teams preach puck possession as recipes for success.

The Ducks are currently in 1st place, in the Pacific Division, with a 14-4-5 record, which is good for 33 points.  Winners of 3 games in a row that were preceded by 3 losses in a row, the Ducks are also looking at today’s matchup as a measuring stick to see where they currently are as a team.  Captain Ryan Getzlaf leads Anaheim in points, with 19 in 22 games played.  Surprisingly, he’s followed closely by defenseman, Sami Vatanen, who has 18 points, with only a mildly favorable offensive zone start percentage.  Offseason acquisition, Ryan Keslerhas 17 points, but only 2 in his last 5 games, along with a -2 plus/minus rating, in that same span.  Overall, though, Kessler has been a good addition.  In 18 games played, Corey Perry has scored an absurd 12 goals.

In net will likely be Frederik Andersenfor the Ducks.  In 17 games played, Andersen has been very good, with a .922 Save Percentage, so far this season.

Hopefully the Hawks aren’t feeling road weary, just yet, because they will need their A-game, today.  Currently, the Hawks are in 3rd place, in the Central Division, with a 13-8-1 record, which is good for 27 points on the season.  With a 3-point night, Wednesday night in Denver, Patrick Kane surpassed Jonathan Toews for the team lead in points, with 21 in 22 games played.  Kane is on absolute fire.  Including Wednesday’s 3-point night, Kane has 10 points in his last 5 games.  Toews has been no slouch, either, as he has 5 points, in his last 5 games.  Through the first 4 circus trip games, Kris Versteeg has put up 4 points, as he was held pointless, for the first time on the trip, Wednesday night.

In net, for the Hawks, will likely be Corey Crawford.  Crawford has been great, with a .926 Save Percentage, in 16 games played.

While we’re only barely beyond the quarter-point of the grueling NHL season, anytime elite teams matchup against one another, it’s exciting.  Hopefully the Hawks can avenge their previous loss to the Ducks, at home, with a big win today, in Anaheim.

Go Hawks!