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Game 4 Preview: Stranglehold or Deadlock

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After Game 3, the Ducks will either be one win away from a Cup Final berth or they will be tied 2-2.

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

What We Learned From Game 3

Bruce Boudreau might be out-coaching Joel Quenneville. The Anaheim bench boss saw his team lose a marathon game by the thinnest of margins and then trusted the same lineup of players to get the job done two nights later. His Chicago counterpart elected to bench both Antoine Vermette and Teuvo Teravainen in favor of Kris Versteeg and Joakim Nordstrom, not because he thought the latter were better players, but because he though fatigue was going to be enough of a factor to make the change worthwhile. Here is Second City Hockey's analysis of these and other coaching decisions.

That said, coaching alone does not decide hockey games. Frederik Andersen and Ryan Getzlaf were each in peak form, surprising nobody. The rest of the hockey world (and perhaps the more casual Ducks fan) might have learned that Simon Despres is good. He didn't necessarily play any better on Thursday than he has throughout these playoffs, but he did score a goal, and that gave everybody a reason to notice him.

What Needs to Change From Last Game

The Blackhawks played a killer third period, which is the least surprising thing in the world because they A) have a ton of firepower and B) were down a goal. It would probably be too much to ask the Ducks to outshoot the Hawks in that situation, but it isn't too much to ask them to tighten up the defense a little bit. The Sami Vatanen - Clayton Stoner pairing got lit up in the corsi department, and unless that changes, Boudreau is going to have to cut back on their usage a little bit in favor of the other two pairings.

Hopefully the power play will even out a little more. The Ducks' penalty kill was fantastic in Game 3 as it's been for most of the playoffs, but if this imbalance in special teams time continues, the Blackhawks are going to make them pay eventually.

Game Notes

More people in Southern California are watching this series than either of the two previous Western Conference Finals, both of which were Kings vs Blackhawks matchups.

While Boudreau is probably going to roll with an identical lineup, Quenneville might make a couple of changes, possibly returning to the same lineup that won him Game 2. Teravainen and Vermette could find their way back to the ice, and by the sound of it, most of Chicago's fanbase would be pleased.

The Blackhawks recalled defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk, who has not played since November. He is a possibility for the later games in the series, and very unlikely to appear as early as Game 4.

Fearless Prediction

Jonathan Toews finally shows up offensively, but Andersen still plays a great game.