I had this feeling going into Saturday's game that St. Louis would be a good measuring stick for the Ducks. We'd see where they stacked up to a Blues team that's played well, hit a few bumps, but, for the most part, could be a solid contender in the West this short season.
And then I watched the most baffling 65:00 minutes of hockey and a shootout to end a game that made me sit back and say, "What the eff was that?!"
So here we are. Sitting atop the Pacific Division (as of writing this) and headed into Chicago to meet a Blackhawks team that has basically chewed up every opponent and then spit them back out onto the ice after three periods of play.
The Hawks have yet to lose in regulation, and I can guarantee that Bruce Boudreau is reminding each and everyone of the Ducks that they have a golden opportunity here to make some real noise. The Ducks have been squeaking by in what has turned out to be quite a successful season thus far, but this would bring about a whole new set of eyes on hockey in Anaheim (Ok, true, EVERYTHING hockey squeaks by in Southern California).
Coach isn't taking any chances. He isn't going to wait until midway through the game to put a shake up in his roster. Jen reported yesterday of the line mash-ups that Boudreau has thrown into the blender and what the possible combinations have in store for tonight's opponents.
The most important aspect of the line shuffle may be the element of surprise. Not just for Ducks fans, who are wondering how the hell that third line combination of Cogliano-Bonino-Perry will possibly be effective, but to the Blackhawks as well. They're going to have to figure out who's the most important and lethal combination on the ice. Who's going to garner all of their attention? [Ed. Note: Bruce un-did the new line combos. - JN]
If you've been hiding out from all other hockey news, we're here to tell you that these Blackhawks are no jokes. Patrick Kane is currently second in the league in scoring and goals (9-10=19). As a team, the Hawks are second in scoring with 41 goals and have only allowed 23. In the crease, Corey Crawford's 1.62 Goals Against Average and .935 Save Percentage is just better than that of our own Viktor Fasth's 1.72 GAA and .932 SV%.
Basically, now would be a great time for Teemu Selanne to continue climbing the charts, Corey Perry to join the team, leaving the lock-out break behind him, and Daniel Winnik to find some of that "where did this guy come from?" mojo we saw in the first few games of the season.
So, maybe I was wrong about Saturday's game against the Blues. Maybe THIS is the game where the Ducks will discover their worth.
Either way...GO DUCKS!!!