The Chicago Blackhawks have their opponent for the Western Conference Final. They will square off against the the Anaheim Ducks, who defeated the Calgary Flames in five games. On paper, the Blackhawks seem to be a better team. But as we know, they don’t decide the playoffs based off of paper. These two teams will get their series started once the Eastern Conference side of the bracket figures itself out. When these two teams do finally drop the puck, there are some reasons to believe that the Ducks have a fighting chance. Here are three reasons why Hawks’ fans should worry about the Ducks.
1) Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf
These two are quite the duo. The top two Duck forwards are thorns in the side of whoever they matchup against, and the Blackhawks are no exception. Perry and Getzlaf always show up for the playoffs, it’s always been a question about the rest of the team. Perry has 15 points in 9 playoff games, which leads all playoff players. His teammate isn’t far behind with 12 points, good enough to tie him for 3rd among playoff performers. It helps that they are getting contributions from Jakob Sifverberg (3 G, 8 A) and Ryan Kesler (4 G, 5 A), but it is these two that drive this Ducks team and if they get going, the Hawks’ could find themselves in some trouble.
2) The Power Play
Out of these three, this should probably be the biggest concern. The four guys mentioned above all see time on the Ducks power play, which has a 31% conversation ratio. That tops all of the teams left in the playoffs. For comparison , the next highest team that is still in the playoffs is the Hawks’, who sport a 20% ratio. At 5-on-5, the Ducks are going to struggle to keep the Hawks’ off the score board, and have trouble scoring on their own. Anaheim wins this series by getting one or two power plays a game, and converting them. The Hawks’ need to stay out of the box, not take stupid penalties and shore up the issues that have plagued the penalty kill. The best way to silence this almost automatic power play is to not let them have an opportunities.
3) Frederik Andersen
Everybody knows what makes the difference in the playoffs: a goalie getting hot at the right time. And that’s exactly what Andersen has done. His 1.96 GAA is good enough for 5th among goalies with more than one playoff start. A .925 Sv% is where some doubt can start to creep in, but an 8-1-1 record in the postseason cannot be ignored. For the Ducks to have any chance of beating the Hawks’, Andersen has to be almost perfect in the crease. One could see he would have to do what Devan Dubnyk couldn’t do: shutdown the Hawks’.