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Ducks @ Blackhawks PREVIEW: Gibson and Ducks Defense Look to Cool Down Kane

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Shorthanded on offense, Ducks will need big game from D-unit and Gibson.

NHL: Chicago Blackhawks at Anaheim Ducks Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Game # 24

Anaheim Ducks @ Chicago Blackhawks

Monday, November 27th, 5:30PM PST

TV: NBCSCH, FS-W, NHL.TV

Radio: AM 830

The Enemy: Second City Hockey


The Anaheim Ducks (10-9-4, 24 points, 6th in Pacific) will travel to Chicago as they take on the Blackhawks (11-8-3, 25 points, 4th in Central) for the second game of their six-game road trip. The Ducks are coming off a heartbreaking 2-1 shootout loss to the Los Angeles Kings in which the team played with high energy and brought a level of physicality and grit that it hasn’t shown in some time. The Ducks will need that same energy level as they face a Blackhawks team who is recently coming off a 4-1 victory over the Florida Panthers. In their last 10 games the Ducks are 4-3-3 and the Blackhawks are 6-3-1.

ALL EYES ON ME

Patrick Kane will be on the Ducks radar as he is currently enjoying a 6-game point streak. He leads the Blackhawks with 22 points (9 goals, 13 assists). He has been notorious for scoring big goals against the Ducks and with Anaheim’s defensive unit intact, they will need to ensure to limit his opportunities and prevent him from having any quality scoring chances. If the defense can’t stop him, (which if the last several games are any indication, they most likely can’t) then it will be up to John Gibson to continue his stellar play in net. Personally, I would love to see Gibson rob Kane of a few goals.

KEYS TO THE GAME

With the announcement that Rickard Rakell will not be traveling with the team for this road trip, the Ducks will be extremely thin at forward. Rakell adds to a list of injured forwards that just seems to keep growing longer as the season progresses. Rakell will join Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler, Patrick Eaves and Ondrej Kase. Losing Rakell is a huge blow to an offensive unit that has struggled to score goals recently. Over their last 3 games the Ducks have only been able to produce 4 goals. Rakell has been a big part of Anaheim’s offense as he leads the team with 8 goals and 18 total points. With a thin forward group the Ducks will rely on their youngsters to help generate some offense. Guys such as Derek Grant, Chris Wagner, Logan Shaw, Kalle Kossila and Kevin Roy will need to step up and make some big plays.

On the other side of the ice the Ducks will be leaning on their goaltending once again. Luckily John Gibson has been outstanding and so has his backup Ryan Miller. For the Ducks to have any chance at a victory they will need to control the neutral zone and limit the amount of odd-man rushes. The defense will need to clog the passing lanes and block shots to take some pressure off of Gibson who has faced a plethora of shots in his last few games. Chicago will attack with speed and if the Ducks find themselves down early, it could wind up being a long ugly night.

If the Ducks can at least gain a point by forcing this game into overtime, that should be a victory within itself. With a tough road stretch ahead, any point earned is a positive, especially considering all the injuries this Ducks team has had to endure this season. Expecting them to steal a game against the likes of Kane, Jonathan Toews and Corey Crawford (who has a save % of 0.934) is unlikely, but having John Gibson in net gives this team a chance every night.