Real stat: the Ducks first line has the most punchable faces in the NHL.
Game Time: 7:30 PM
TV/Radio: Comcast Sports Net/WGN 720
Last meeting: Ducks won 2-1, March 26 at the United Center (In the most frustrating game ever, but Ray Emery was in net!)
Other guys: On The Duck Pond
Tonight, the Blackhawks welcome what could possibly be Orange County's finest hockey team, the Anaheim Ducks. The Ducks were one of the hottest teams in the league last year, using a second half push to lead them to the fourth seed in the playoffs where they were bounced by the Nashville Predators. Their second half surge was led by shame to my last name, Corey Perry. His 50 goals came as a result of being on a line with Bobby Ryan and Ryan Getzlaf combined with a real stellar Anaheim power play.
Anaheim is coming off a rough weekend, losing 3-1 to Dallas and 5-4 to Phoenix. Hiller was pulled in the second period of the Phoenix game after giving up 5 goals on 19 shots (woof). The Shame of Omaha, Dan Ellis, came in and was perfect in relief. I would be surprised if Ellis didn't start on Tuesday. Hiller started both games over the weekend and is coming off a weak showing on Sunday. Meanwhile, Ellis is familiar with the Hawks and hasn't played in a few games. Maybe, for his sake, he gets a start bonus.
Despite the great first line, Anaheim's depth drops wayyyy off. However, they do have the ageless wonder that is Teemu Selanne. The 41-year old is coming off a 31 goal, 49 assist season and brings his victory lap (not farewell tour) to the United Center tonight. He is not quite at the point-per-game pace he was at last year, but does have a solid 2 goals to go along with two assists. Selanne is part of the Ducks power play which has yet to get going thus far, but can be deadly. Even at 41, watching Selanne is exciting.
Defensively, the Ducks are better going forward than they are in their own zone. That being said, Lubomir Visnovsky is coming off a season where he put up 68 points and was a plus 18. Visnovsky is a good mentor to Cam Fowler. The Anti-Tyler Meyers put up 40 points in his rookie campaign, but was a train wreck going forward, putting up a -25 on the season. If he can improve his defensive game, he should become one of the best puck-moving defense men in a few seasons. He should be a nice addition to the United States National Team in a few seasons.
Meanwhile, the Blackhawks are coming off a very fast game against the Avs on Saturday night. It's annoying, after a game like that, to see that Blackhawks working on their shootout tactics. Really? There should be much better things for the team to do in practice, such as playing actual hockey. Even after Saturday, I don't see a lot of changes in the lineups. Perhaps we will see Sami Lepisto in for Sean O'Donnell. As has been said before, we can't expect for him to play a ton of games this year at the age of 40. The Perry-Ryan-Getzlaf line gave the Hawks trouble last season, but the Hawks weren't great in front of Crawford on Saturday.
There shouldn't be changes in the forwards. That includes the $3 million elephant in the room Olesz. A lot of people are pleasantly surprised by the play of the lines but it is concerning not to see Patrick Kane on the score sheet. Yes, he has 6 points in 7 games, but his last point came against Winnipeg. Kane was playing in total eff you mode earlier this year and was putting up the points to show for it. It's been a few games since we saw Kane have an on fire game, so Kaner could be due for a big game. Hopefully, it comes tonight.
For the eighth time this season, Corey Crawford will start in goal. This is slightly annoying. I was hoping to see Emery be able to carry a solid workload, and while nobody's saying he can't, he still has one start this season. Then again, the Hawks do play on Friday/Saturday this week, so maybe Q wants to have him start in Raleigh on Friday night. Craw has been good so far but he hasn't really been put in a position where he has to go and win the game for the Hawks. Against that Ducks first line and the joy to the world that is Perry, he could.
Time to start off the week with a big 2 points. Also, does anybody else hope Columbus comes to the United Center with at least one win?
Anyway, go Hawks.