After losing two games in a shootout, the Anaheim Ducks (18-7-5) will face the Central Division leading Chicago Blackhawks (20-6-4) on the first night of back-to-back games. The Blackhawks will be returning home after losing to the Minnesota Wild 4-3.
Keys to the Game: This will be the second game of back-to-backs for the Blackhawks, so expect them to come out with pressure in the first period. Chicago is a fast team that capitalizes on their speed and transition game. The Ducks will have to clog up the neutral zone and make sure not to over commit to the attack early in the game. The Ducks will be getting some of their speed back as Emerson Etem was recalled from Norfolk along with face-off specialist David Steckel who should be expected to take injured Mathieu Perreault's place in the lineup.
Not only are the Blackhawks fast, but they have a ton of skill players that have allowed them to become one of the best comeback teams in the league. The Ducks can't let up if they take a lead against Chicago. If they sit back, the Blackhawks will take advantage of it. Last season, however, it was the Ducks who took advantage of the Blackhawks, winning all three of the games between the two clubs.
What Can We Learn From This Game?: With an injury list that includes Jakob Silfverberg, Sheldon Souray, Luca Sbisa, Mathieu Perreault, Viktor Fasth and Francois Beauchemin (who joined the team on the trip), can the Ducks come away with a win against the No.1 team in the league? To do this, the Ducks must have more contribution from their second line, which has been some combination of Teemu Selanne, Mathieu Perreault (injured), Kyle Palmieri, Matt Beleskey and Nick Bonino.
This game should also be the return of Etem, Steckel and maybe even Beauchemin. We'll see if getting these players back in the lineup will help jumpstart the Ducks' offense which has been falling off as of late. It is unclear who will be starting in goal. My guess would be Jonas Hiller who has been great in his last two starts.
Fearless Prediction: The Ducks get depth scoring, Cogliano reunites with Etem on the penalty kill and scores shorthanded and Selanne finally scores while on a line with Etem and Bonino.
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