NHL Preview: Chicago Blackhawks – Anaheim Ducks

Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

The game between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Anaheim Ducks has the feel of an old-time hyped boxing match, with two powerhouses in the Western Conference will be battling for supremacy. One is looking for another win while the other seeks bragging rights as one of the few to topple a seemingly untouchable foe. No matter how you look at it, this is an even matchup.

In one corner, we have the Blackhawks, who are sitting on top of the league. They’ve set and shattered league and franchise records, and they’ve made everyone sit up and take notice of them. They have two back-to-back losses, but they’ve fought back and won three in a row. They defeated the team who stopped their historic point streak and have shown that even when they’re down, they come back fighting.

In the other corner are the Ducks. While the Blackhawks were getting all the attention with their streak, the Ducks have quietly been winning as well. Backed by rookie goaltender Viktor Fasth, the Ducks have dispatched teams right and left. They’ve been at the Blackhawks’ heels throughout the season, and right now they’re five points behind them in the conference standings.

The goaltending matchup is pretty even. For the Blackhawks, Corey Crawford will be in net. At 13-2-3, Crawford’s game has been stellar, and his 1.79 goals-against average is second in the league. The Ducks will be relying on Jonas Hiller rather than Fasth. He’s been splitting his time with Fasth and has a 2.52 GAA and a 10-2-3 record. Both of this game’s goaltenders love to frustrate their opponents and make impossible saves.

Both teams will be playing with one less man on their rosters. Corey Perry, he of the shiny new contract, is sitting out the final game of his four-game suspension. Meanwhile, Marian Hossa can’t catch a break injury-wise. After being boarded in the first period of Monday’s game, he has an upper body injury and won’t be on the Blackhawks’ first line. Their upcoming four-day break will give him a chance to rest up and heal.

The game is set. The players are ready. Ladies and gentlemen, let’s find out who’s the best in the West.

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