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King of the West: Blackhawks @ Ducks Preview

The Blackhawks are taking the now dreaded trip through California. Both teams are coming off disappointing losses and will look to rebound with wins.

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

The Blackhawks lost a heartbreaker on a last minute L.A. goal in their Wednesday night game. The Ducks were thoroughly dismantled by the Sharks last night in San Jose. The Blackhawks aren't atop their division like Anaheim, but are still considered a consensus favorite to challenge for a Stanley Cup.  You hate to have a "statement" game a night after being so soundly beaten, but perhaps it's exactly what the Ducks need to get their heads back in the game. This is going to be billed as two Cup hopefuls going toe-to-toe. The Ducks will need a solid effort tonight after hanging Bryzgalov out to dry last night. Something Bruce Boudreau admitted in his post game interview.

Game Notes:

The Ducks have split the season series with Chicago, but their one win belongs to John Gibson, who now resides in Norfolk. Frederik Andersen will be between the pipes after relieving Bryzgalov last night. When Andersen last faced the Blackhawks, he gave up 3 goals on 37 shots in a 4-1 loss.

The major question for the Ducks tonight will be the constant rotation of the fourth line wings. Last game saw Rene Bourque and Devante Smith-Pelley draw into the lineup, but Boudreau has been fond of Tim Jackman in the past. He told Eric Stephens that he has 13 forwards and all of them are playing well. It seems the carousel will continue for a little while.

The major injury for Chicago is Kris Versteeg, which, arguably, isn't much of a concern. We can probably expect the same lineup that was iced agains the Kings a couple of nights ago.

What Can We Learn from This Game:

I'm not really a fan of trying to discern anything from any one game.  Despite our many complaints about who is a bad player, guys who make it to the NHL are elite athletes, and any one of them can probably have an amazing night. That's why I like to look at longer trends. Having said that, I think our last loss puts us in a unique position. This team has had plenty of regular season success, but another division title that doesn't result in a deep playoff run will probably be considered a failure by the organization and fans alike. The playoffs come with ups and downs and no one loss should ever be a deciding factor, except a Game 7.  Being able to regroup and put in a solid effort is key to a successful playoff run.

So, what can we learn from this game? We can learn if the Ducks have a short enough memory to succeed in the playoffs.

Fearless Prediction:

After the Ducks  fall behind early, Andrew Cogliano finds a way to get himself on the top line and scores a pair of goals to help tie the game in the second period. He will then be placed on the third line to start the third period in an effort to "spread out the scoring". Ducks lose by two after an empty netter seals the deal.