There are three things to be done now that everyone has stuffed themselves full of turkey: 1) Figure out what to do with the rest of the turkey; 2) Spend a ridiculous amount of money buying things you don’t need because they’re cheap on Black Friday; and 3) Watch the Ducks game, which starts at 1pm.
That’s right…the Ducks will be playing an afternoon game on Black Friday. Be sure to get all your shopping done by the afternoon because puck drop will be shortly after 1pm today.
The Ducks have a very stiff challenge awaiting them this afternoon. The Chicago Blackhawks are coming off a unbelievably dominant performance over the NHL-best Sharks, scoring seven goals in a row before the Sharks were able to put a couple on the board. The 7-2 victory was almost a side-story, however, as superstar free-agent acquisition Marian Hossa returned from his injury to score two goals, one of them shorthanded, in his Blackhawks debut.
The Blackhawks’ first three goals of that game were scored shorthanded, and that will be the first thing the Ducks need to be careful of this afternoon. Aside from Scott Niedermayer, the Ducks’ defense isn’t the most mobile and would probably not be able to catch up to the ‘hawks’ forwards if they get a break. But that pressure up high will also mean more space down low for Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, so the special teams battle will be a fun one to watch.
The Ducks have been playing well for quite some time now, but only recently has their record started to show it. The Ducks have won three of their last four games, sandwiching a loss to the Sharks in between, so we are in for an entertaining, high-scoring game this afternoon.
The Ducks will still be without Joffrey Lupul as he nurses his back injury. The Ducks have been doing fine without him, though, as Evgeny Artyukhin has taken his place on the second line and generated as many or more scoring chances than Lupul was able to in that position.
Perry will look to extend his scoring streak to an incredible 17 games, and the RPG line will probably continue their dominating play down low. The ‘hawks’ defense is much better than what the Ducks have seen in recent games, so it we’ll see how the line reacts to the better players. J.S. Giguere has played extremely well in the last two games and will get the start in goal agian today.
Line combinations will remain the same as the last few games, but they are posted below in case you missed it.
Bobby Ryan – Ryan Getzlaf – Corey Perry
Evgeny Artyukhin – Saku Koivu – Teemu Selanne
Petteri Nokelainen – Todd Marchant – Kyle Calder
George Parros – MacGregor Sharp – Mike Brown
From David Kalan at NHL.com:
BLACKHAWKS (16-5-2) at DUCKS (9-11-3)
Last 10 – Blackhawks 8-1-1; Ducks 5-4-1.
Season series — This will be the first meeting of the season between the Hawks and Ducks. Chicago took the 2008-09 season series 3-1, capping it with a 3-2 overtime win at the UnitedCenter on March 3, 2009.
Big story – Can anyone stop the Hawks? Chicago steamrolled the Sharks 7-2 in San Jose on Wednesday for its eighth win in a row. The Hawks improved to 4-0-0 on their annual “Circus Trip,” which ends with games against the two Southern California teams.
Team Scope :
Blackhawks — The only bad news for Chicago is that there’s nowhere to go but down. There isn’t much else to concern the Hawks. Chicago has won eight straight games, and is coming off perhaps its biggest regular season win in years after dismantling the Sharks on Wednesday night. The Hawks displayed total dominance in all facets of the game, outscoring San Jose 4-1 at even strength and tying a franchise record with three shorthanded goals.
The biggest news for Chicago was the long-anticipated debut of offseason acquisition Marian Hossa, who made as grand an entrance as he could by scoring twice. The stars are not the only ones contributing to the offense, as unheralded right wing Troy Brouwer has six points in his last six games to help the cause. With the Hawks two games away from sweeping their six-game road trip, Friday will be a mental test for a young team that could easily overlook a Ducks team currently sitting at 14th place in the conference.
Ducks — While the season has been rough so far for the Ducks, Anaheim has shown a spark of late. The 2007 Stanley Cup winners had fallen to the bottom of the Western Conference before returning home to start a seven-game homestand last week, but the familiar setting seems to be agreeing with them. Anaheim has won three of its last four games, including a nail-biting 3-2 victory over the Hurricanes on Wednesday. With the game knotted at 1-1 in the third period, the Ducks secured the win with goals from Petteri Nokelainen and the ageless Teemu Selanne, then allowing a last-minute goal before hanging on.
“We were patient the whole game, played our system until the end and Nokie got a big goal for us,” center Ryan Getzlaf said.
With Anaheim sitting just six points out of the last playoff spot in the West, a run at the postseason is far from out of the question, and the Ducks seem to be gaining momentum as the season turns the quarter pole.
Who’s hot — Jonathan Toews has seven points in his last five games for Chicago to complement Patrick Kane, who has 14 points in his last 11 games. In Anaheim, the Ducks have been getting production from Corey Perry, whose 16-game points streak in the longest in the NHL this season and one shy of the franchise record held by Scott Niedermayer. Jean-Sebastien Giguere has started and won the Ducks’ last two games, allowing only four goals.
Injury report — Chicago is without Dave Bolland, who is out the next 3-4 months after back surgery. Ryan Carter is out indefinitely for the Ducks with a broken right foot, while Joffrey Lupul is doubtful for Friday with back spasms.
Stat pack — While the Hawks managed to show their special teams prowess by scoring three shorthanded goals against the Sharks’ third-ranked power play unit, they could still be giving Anaheim an opening. The Ducks are no slouches — their power play is ranked ninth in the League — and the Hawks’ penalty kill, which is No. 2 in the League, might be the best time to strike. Chicago has given up a power play goal in four of its last five games.
Puck drop – After an emotional win at San Jose, the Hawks have to keep their focus – especially against a Ducks team that’s playing well at home.