To be honest, I had some trepidation about writing this gameday. I've written the gameday post for every game in the Ducks-Blackhawks series this season, and every post has been followed by an emphatic loss. In October, a three-point night from the man that the Hawks faithful call "Black Magic" sealed our fate. In November, the Ducks were able to build an early lead before being stunned into defeat by a career performance from Black Magic's other half. (Then-Coach Randy Carlyle referred to our third-period performance as a "deep freeze." Scary). I don't remember that much about our game against them in December, but I remember that Hawks pugilist John Scott was the second star. And John Scott should never be a star in anyone's game.
Why am I taking this ugly trip down memory road? To show you all how far we've come. All three losses occurred before our Big January Turnaround. The Ducks - even the Boudreau-led Ducks of December - were still trying to find their footing. In January, we started to win consecutive games. Conversations about Failing for Nail became conversations about our likelihood of making the playoffs. And during the road trip, we looked into Evgeni Malkin's eyes and won (while also keeping him silent on the scoreboard, which is no easy feat). We maintained leads (the regulation win against the Panthers - even though the Panthers' complete inability to produce any offense clearly helped), but were also capable of coming from behind when necessary (the shootout win against the Hurricanes). And most importantly, the Ducks had clearly bought into Gabby's system. All the intangibles were there: the hustle, the energy, the drive.
And while the Ducks have been surging, the Hawks have been struggling. Black Magic's other half did not travel with them to Anaheim, and they managed only 19 shots on goal in a 4-0 loss to the Kings last night. They'll be looking to come back tonight, but as long as we keep their stars silent, a win is within our reach.
Let's expose the black, Midwestern magic in the light of the Anaheim sun as we continue our charge toward the postseason.