Game Preview: Chicago Blackhawks Set to Face League-Leading Anaheim Ducks


Feb 5, 2014; Anaheim, CA, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wing Marian Hossa (81) skates with the puck as Anaheim Ducks center Kyle Palmieri (21) chases during the second period at the Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

The Ice Show Trip isn’t about to get any easier for the Chicago Blackhawks as they faceoff against the NHL’s top team, the Anaheim Ducks.

This will be the 3rd and final game of the 3-game season series between the Hawks and Ducks.  So far, these teams have split the series, with the Hawks winning the most recent matchup on November 28th, while they were on the Circus Trip.  Puck drop is set for 9:00 PM Central time.  The game can be seen on WGN-Chicago and can be heard on WGN 720 AM.

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

[table id=119 /]

Offensively, the Hawks have been an elite team overall this season and will face a Ducks defense that has been roughly average.

Defensively, the Hawks have also been overall elite this season, even if it hasn’t been consistent lately, and they will be tasked with shutting down a Ducks offense that has been good this season.

On the Power Play, the Hawks have been overall slightly above average and will be facing  a Ducks Penalty Kill that has been a bit below average.

For the Hawks, the Penalty Kill has been overall elite, but like the rest of their goal prevention tactics has been inconsistent lately.  The Hawks’ PK unit will be up against a Ducks Power Play that has been slightly below average.

In the faceoff circle, the Hawks have been great overall this season and they will be taking draws against an Anaheim squad that has been very good in the dot.

In terms of puck-possession, the Hawks are an elite team and they will be fighting for the puck with the Ducks who have been good at possessing the puck.

The paper advantage clearly goes to the Hawks here.  The numbers suggest that the Ducks have over-achieved this season and are due to come back to Earth eventually.  Last night, the Ducks were blown out by the San Jose Sharks by a score of 6-3.  Is this the beginning of Anaheim’s slump?

The Ducks currently hold a 32-11-6 record, which has gotten them 70 points and has them comfortably leading the Pacific Division.  They are 12 points ahead of the 2nd place Sharks, so it would take an epic collapse for the ages to keep the Ducks out of the playoffs.

Anaheim is likely happy to play again tonight, as they hope to quickly move on from a rough loss to a divisional rival, last night.  Although he’s yet to record a point since the All-Star break(2 games), Ryan Getzlaf leads the Ducks in scoring and is 4th in the NHL in assists.  After Getzlaf, there is a big drop-off in points scored, but not in quality as Ryan Kesler is 2nd on the team in scoring with 32 points, but he is in the midst of a 3-game point streak.  If it wasn’t for his bout with the mumps, Corey Perry would have more points, but he is still nearly on a point-per-game pace.  Defenseman Sami Vatanen has emerged as an elite blueliner(for now) and is an absolute weapon on the Power Play.

In net for the Ducks will be Frederik Andersen.  Andersen has been a huge part of Anaheim’s success and an absolute work-horse for the team.  Last night, he was supposed to have the night off, but was forced to enter the game due to the struggles of Ilya Bryzgalov.  Andersen already has a post-All Star break shutout and sports a very solid season Save Percentage of .919 in 40 games played.

The Hawks are now all alone in 3rd place in the Central Division with a 30-16-2 record and 62 points.  They are 6 points behind the 1st place Nashville Predators, 2 points behind the 2nd place St. Louis Blues and 2 points ahead of the 4th place Winnipeg Jets.  

Both of the Patricks; Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp have been playing very good hockey lately.  Kane has 6 points in his last 4 games and Sharp has 5 in his last 4.  Andrew Shaw’s goal against the Los Angeles Kings gives him 3 in his last 2 games.  Jonathan Toews had a rough game against the Kings, but he was on fire before the break.  Look for him to step up tonight.

In net for the Hawks will be Corey Crawford.  Crawford has been up and down, but overall good this season with a .919 Save Percentage in 31 games played.

Maybe a 1-game hiccup was what the Hawks needed to get this road trip and the post-All Star break schedule going.  Adversity is sometimes the best motivation, and the Hawks have always handled it well.  They will need to rise to the occasion tonight, though.  The Ducks will be motivated after last night’s loss, but hopefully the Hawks will remind the Ducks that they have a long way to go before they are truly the best in the West.

Go Hawks!