Even though it hasn't happened for the last two years, I think we're safe in calling this Post-Thanksgiving Day matchup with the Blackhawks a tradition. Last year the Ducks took on Calgary on Black Friday - of course we know what happened there, all hail the Disneyland Curse - and the season before Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr stole it from us. However, the previous four seasons were all Chicago at Anaheim at 1 o'clock. The Blackhawks won in 2011 and 2010 while the Ducks took it in '09 and '08.
I'm still a little disappointed that, especailly considering some of the matchups between Chicago and the Ducks recently, the NHL and NBC haven't tapped into this for their "Thanksgiving Showdown" but I guess the West Coast start time interferes too much with a littany of day time talk shows and (probably more importantly) local news so Rangers/Flyers it is again. Whatever, we don't need their permission to enjoy, what probably will be a much better game.
According to Eric Stephens, Francois Beauchemin is all but guaranteed to miss the game today and everybody's favorite, Clayton Stoner, is most likely to return in his place.
For Chicago, Patrick Sharp and Trevor vanRiemsdyk (younger brother of James) both remain out with lower body injuries. Sharp could be back on this trip, however TVR (i assume that's what he's called) needed surgery and will be out for 3-4 months. Andrew Shaw returned to the Hawks' lineup Wednesday in Colorado, scoring a power play goal, after having missed three games with an upper body injury.
Also at today's game, fans will get introduced to Crowdy, a new, first-of-its kind iPhone app that will alert fans to "chants" that are about to break out at Ducks games. Fans planning to attend the game can download the app through the iPhone app store or at http://gotcrowdy.com/app. (Anaheim Calling Reader Tip: Fans can also enter to win a free Ducks jersey by separately visiting http://gotcrowdy.com/
For today's game the Crowdy app will alert fans at the games to chants created by a designated "crowd leader." Later Crowdy plans to explore ways for fans to propose and launch chants themselves. An Android app also on the horizon. "Ultimately Crowdy is all about whatever the fans want to say and do," said Eric Paine, who co-developed the app. "For this first game, we just want to test the app and hear what the fans have to say." So check it out, because every little bit will help as we know there will be a large Chicago contingent in the building.
What Can We Learn From This Game:
As it has been for the last four years or so, this is the proverbial "Measuring Stick" game. Despite no having as stellar a record as one might think, the Hawks are still one of the best teams in the league. The last time these two teams met the Ducks hung in there for 40 minutes, but got hammered possession wise in the third period until they were lucky enough for Devante Smith-Pelly to score shorthanded on a brutal Brent Seabrook turnover.
Lately the Ducks have had a nasty habit of starting well and letting it get away from them in the third period. That will most likely not fly again with Chicago. After a tough start to the month for the Blackhawks, they seem to have turned it around with wins in four of their last five games, the loss coming at Vancouver on Sunday.
No tramplings at Honda Center, because even the rowdiest of hockey fans are more civilized than a Black Friday bargain hunter. (Except maybe in Vancouver)