The Chicago Blackhawks land in Anaheim Wednesday night in a contest between the two hottest teams in the NHL. In a potential postseason preview game, just five points separate the Hawks and the Ducks in the West, and the next closest team is 10 points behind Anaheim!
While the hockey world was focused on Chicago’s historic point-streak in the first half of the season, Anaheim quietly demolished its competition and was able to stay in contention with the Blackhawks despite the minimal headlines on a national scale. The point leader on the Blackhawks is Patrick Kane with 37 points (16G, 21A) while Anaheim’s leading point scorer is Ryan Getzlaf with 33 points (11G, 22A). Both Chicago and Anaheim have only three players with negative +/-ratings and all four goaltenders between the two teams have at least 10 wins under their belt.
It doesn’t need to be said, but we’ll say it anyway: the Chicago Blackhawks and the Anaheim Ducks are on fire this season. Offensive firepower combined with defenses that spend most of the game passing the puck in the direction of the opposing goaltender are certainly the two keys to success nearly 30 games into the season.
With the exception of the month of January in which Chicago went 6 – 0 – 1 and Anaheim 3 – 1 – 1, the Blackhawks and the Ducks both have nearly identical monthly records. Both teams took 11 wins in February and 7 wins thus far into March. One thing is for certain, if it wasn’t for the Blackhawks’ point-streak of 24 games, these teams would be just about dead-even.
Enough with the comparisons: what’s happening with the individual teams?
Anaheim recently signed winger Corey Perry and captain Ryan Getzlaf to eight-year contract extensions through the 2020 – 2021 season, a move that makes Ducks fans a little happier. Both have been integral to the success of Anaheim’s recent point-streak – which, we should point out, is at 11 games (8 – 0 – 3) and is the longest active point streak in the NHL. Anaheim has gotten used to handling the puck this season, spending the majority of their time in the opponent’s zone.
The Blackhawks can relate to time in the opposing zone thanks to a tight defensive line and great offensive speed. Historically, the Blackhawks play a better game when the pace is high – just take a look at how quick Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, Duncan Keith, Viktor Stalberg, and Andrew Shaw skate into the zone. Not only are these skaters fast, but they protect the puck and are capable of taking the puck off of an opponent’s stick with ease.
Of course, goaltenders Corey Crawford and Ray Emery have been spectacular during this shortened season – both are 4th and 5th ranked in the NHL. The only other team in the NHL with such an effective goaltender lineup is Anaheim. BothViktor Fasth – who has allowed only 8 goals in 6 games at home this season – and Jonas Hiller have 6 game home win streaks – and the team has a 12-game home winning streak.
Tonight’s matchup in Anaheim showcases two teams with the best records to ever face each other after 25 games in the NHL season.
We could continue to throw out numbers and names about tonight’s matchup in Anaheim, but this seems to speak for itself: The Chicago Blackhawks and the Anaheim Ducks are good – real good. This could be the game to watch during the regular season so don’t miss it!