Ducks @ Hawks Preview: That Toddlin' Town

More of this please. - David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

The NHL's best team takes a trip to United Center in search of their sixth straight win over their closest Presidents Trophy competitors.

So Wednesday night was pretty fun, yeah? We should do it again sometime.

For anyone who still won't call the Ducks a serious Cup contender (like my Hawks fan of a roommate), smack yourself before taking a look at this quick rundown of what Anaheim hockey's been about lately:

  • 20-0-2 at home (6th team in NHL history to earn a point in first 22+ home games)
  • Won 18 of last 19 games (2nd team in NHL history with that kind of mark)
  • 13 point lead in the Pacific (arguably the toughest division in the League)
  • Currently riding an 8 game winning streak (only Anaheim's 2nd longest of the year)

Brush your shoulders off, boys!

    Obama-brush-ya-shoulders-off-o_medium

via stream1.gifsoup.com

As you all probably know, the Ducks come into the Windy City after a 9-1, ahem, shel-Lack-ing of the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday night. On the flip side, Chicago enters this game on the heels of an overtime loss to the hands of Tyson Barrie and the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday.

Chicago trails the Ducks for first place in the West and the League by a six point margin with no games in hand. The Hawks have got to find a way to cover some ground if they want that top spot back, so if there's any team that wants to throw a monkey wrench in Anaheim's run, it's without a doubt this one. Unfortunately for them, they haven't exactly had a lot of success against SoCal's best and brightest recently. The last time the Blackhawks won a game in this matchup? December 16th, 2011.

Also, for your viewing pleasure:

CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS: Here Come The Hawks (via DocBrown88)

Aaaaand moving on.

Keys to the Game: Lately, the story has been pretty similar every time these two clubs face off; one of the biggest priorities should be neutralizing big guns/Olympians Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, and Jonathan Toews. Duncan Keith is a very dangerous playmaker to be aware of as well, having tallied 41 assists on the year, good for third in the League.

The Blackhawk defense is likely going to be focusing their efforts similarly, with the chore of shutting down the Wonder Twins, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry (also the two regulation goal scorers from the last meeting). Both offenses overpower both defenses, and are quite deep on both benches, so this game could come down to the effectiveness of the depth scoring for both teams.

Also, we saw the Ducks stray from another one of their streaks on Wednesday night: the streak of infuriatingly slow starts. Fortunately, they would always find ways to come back and win those games, but Chicago's not a team that will let you spot them a lead. If the squad falls back into its old habits, it could be a long night for the visitors. Play 60 minutes of hockey or you'll find yourselves in trouble, especially when you're playing in the United Center.

What Can We Learn from this Game: While the Ducks have dispatched some solid teams over the course of this incredible run, the Blackhawks provide the most quality opponent out of them all. This team is hungry to grab a point or two from Anaheim, especially since they have obviously not been getting the opportunity to cover any ground by virtue of a Ducks loss. Another win in the Madhouse over a determined Hawks team would strongly strengthen both the validity of this current streak and the Ducks' positioning atop the League (for those aforementioned people who are still in denial over either).

Fearless Prediction: The two coaches secretly make a bet over the outcome of the game. If the Ducks come out on top, Joel Quenneville has to shave off his mustache. If the Hawks get the win, Boudreau can't have any Haagen-Dazs until the next time the two meet again in February.

Stay tuned here for updates throughout the day and start commenting. We'll have a quick stats pack shortly before puck drop for the in-game comments to flow.

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