At the Honda Center, the NHL‘s two best teams wouldn’t give the other an inch of ice. Both goalies stood on their heads, each crop of defensemen kept the opposing forwards at bay, and every power play was met with an equally strong penalty kill. Despite the fact that Chicago and Anaheim are first and third respectively in the league in goals for, the game saw only one goal scored until the tail end of the third period.
Marion Hossa scored his 24th of the season, and it looked like it might be the only time the red light was lit until Jonathan Toews potted his 19th.
Earlier this season, the Ducks were unstoppable on home ice. It took them until January 21 to register their first regulation loss at home, a span of almost four entire months. However, since that game, Anaheim has only won two of their last six home games. They’ve also only scored two goals in their last three games.
Considering their place in the standings and how dominant they have been this year, the Ducks’ recent slump is no cause for alarm. All teams go through them, and losing a handful of games is nothing compared to some of the problems other clubs are going through.
The Blackhawks now pull within one point of the Ducks for the top team. Chicago was itself starting to plateau a bit as they are still only 5-2-3 in their last 10 games. With 10 of their players heading to Sochi for the Olympics, they aren’t going to get much rest during the break. They’ll need all they can get as they will consistently play strong and playoff-bound teams once they get back.
Regardless of where these two teams end up in the final standings, there is a definite possibility the game that took place on Wednesday was a preview of the Western Conference Final. Of course, anything can happen come April and nothing is guaranteed in this league. Still, if this was any indication, these are two of the best squads on the NHL right now, and it would be a treat for hockey fans to watch them engage in a dogfight of a seven-game series come playoff time.