First, I have a confession to make:
I love Patrick Kane. [Ed. Note: You cheating b*+ch! <Slap>.] Crazy 88 may be trouble, but he's one of the most exciting players in the league. He's a playmaking winger, but is greatly exceeding expectations as the Hawks' #2 center. Kaner + Marian Hossa is a beautiful, lethal combination. But we have combinations of our own. Bobby and the Finns will likely do some damage, and I'm deeply curious about the new Patrick Maroon - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry line. Maroon has been a dominant offensive force in the AHL, and at 6'4'' and 225 pounds, he brings additional size to a line of giants.
The Ducks will need to use their size against the Blackhawks, who are notoriously small. We must play physical, hungry hockey, and establish an early lead. (Fun Fact: All four of our wins have come after first period leads.) Note that gritty, hungry hockey does not equal irresponsible penalties.
It is also very likely that the the Hawks will outshoot us. They are quite strong on the dot (Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane (!), and Dave Bolland have won more than 50% of their faceoffs). Saku Koivu and Maxime Macenauer (!!) are also above the 50% mark, but Ryan Getzlaf still struggles to win draws.
Some notes about special teams: Second City Hockey denizens lovingly refer to their power play as 'clown shoes,' but ours is even worse than theirs. What happened? We had one of the best power plays in the league last season, but have only converted 3 of 29 opportunities this month. I personally believe that last season's PP depended too heavily on the heroics of a then-Hart Trophy candidate and a 40-something demigod. This season appears to be more of the same, with Teemu Selanne scoring 2 PPG, and Corey scoring 1. Our lackluster power play will have to overcome the Hawks' brutal penalty kill, which has only yielded 1 goal out of 17 shorthanded opportunities.
Goaltending will be crucial to a Ducks victory. The Ducks and the Hawks met four times last year, and both Ducks victories occurred on the heels of lights-out netminding. Dan Ellis seems to have the hot hand as of late, but Hiller will likely start tonight. [Ed. Note: No Ray Emery for the 'Hawks tonight. As of last night, all signs point to a Corey Crawford start.]
We could probably beat them in a shootout (they've struggled with this recently), but I'd rather take care of business in regulation.