Anaheim Ducks Line Rushes vs. Chicago Blackhawks: 10/28/2014

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The Anaheim Ducks begin their four-game Central Division roadtrip tonight with a matchup against one of the elite teams in the NHL in the Chicago Blackhawks. Anaheim is looking to bounce back from a 4-1 defeat on Sunday against the San Jose Sharks, their first loss since the season opener in Pittsburgh. The loss snapped a seven game winning streak for the Ducks, who will try to avoid losing consecutive games for the first time this season. This roadtrip will be an early-season litmus test for the Ducks, as all four teams on this road-trip made the playoffs last season. Chicago is a team loaded with skill: they may have the deepest collection of offensive talent in the NHL. This is a reason why they are a team expected to be one of the best in the Western Conference and one of the best bets to hoist the Stanley Cup this season, just as they did in 2010 and 2013.

The biggest change for the Ducks on the forward lines is that Dany Heatley skated yesterday with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry and could potentially draw into this contest. The team optioned forward Chris Wagner to AHL Norfolk on Sunday, a sign that Heatley may be ready to draw into the lineup and make his Anaheim Ducks debut. Heatley has been on Injured Reserve with a groin injury suffered in the preseason against the Los Angeles Kings. Matt Beleskey scored the team’s only goal against San Jose, giving him five scores in eight contests this season. Meanwhile, William Karlsson will sit for the first time since the season opener, and Rickard Rakell will center the fourth line tonight. Nate Thompson, who usually centers the fourth line, will move up to third line duties.

From Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register, here are the expected lineups for both teams tonight.

Anaheim Ducks Forward Lines:

Heatley – Getzlaf – Perry
Andrew CoglianoRyan KeslerDevante Smith-Pelly
Beleskey – Thompson – Jakob Silfverberg
Emerson Etem – Rakell – Tim Jackman

On the Ducks’ blue-line, Ben Lovejoy is expected to miss six to eight weeks with a broken bone in his right hand, suffering the injury during his fight with Joe Pavelski on Sunday. Lovejoy will most likely be placed on Injured Reserve in order to create a roster spot for Heatley. Josh Manson was called up from AHL Norfolk, as Lovejoy had his hand examination in Anaheim while the team traveled to Chicago. Manson will take Wagner’s spot on the 23-man roster, and he is a physical, offensive-minded defenseman who is a converted defensive-minded forward. However, Manson is not expected to play. Hampus Lindholm did not skate on Monday, as he was experiencing flu symptoms according to coach Bruce Boudreau, but he will play tonight. Lindholm logged 24:21 of ice time on Sunday and is second on the team in minutes played. Expect some defense shuffling to happen, and Mark Fistric should be expected to draw into the lineup.

Anaheim Ducks Defense Pairings:

Cam FowlerClayton Stoner
Lindholm  – Francois Beauchemin
Fistric – Sami Vatanen

For the Chicago Blackhawks, they are coming off a 2-1 victory over the Ottawa Senators on Sunday. Patrick Kane recorded his 500th career NHL point with a secondary assist on Chicago’s first goal, scored by captain Jonathan Toews. The Blackhawks are first in the NHL with 38 shots on goal per game, led by Patrick Sharp, who has three goals and eight points on 36 shots this season, all of which are tops on the Blackhawks. Brandon Saad is continuing to play at a high level after a breakthrough postseason last year. The 22 year old has a goal and six points on the season and is playing well on the top-six with Kane and Andrew Shaw.

Chicago Blackhawks Forward Lines:

Bryan Bickell – Toews – Marian Hossa
Saad – Shaw – Kane
Sharp – Brad RichardsKris Versteeg
Jeremy MorinMarcus KrugerBen Smith

On the Chicago blue-line, reigning Norris Trophy winner Duncan Keith is the Blackhawks’ anchor, scoring two goals and five points this season while averaging 26:16 of ice time per game. After trading Nick Leddy in the offseason to the New York Islanders, Chicago has filled Leddy’s spot on the third pairing with Trevor van Riemsdyk. Brent Seabrook is known for his offense, but he leads all Chicago blue-liners with 14 blocked shots. Michal Rozsival and David Rundblad have each played four games this season with van Riemsdyk, but Rozsival has almost twice as much ice time and had played the previous three contests before being a healthy scratch against the Senators.

Chicago Blackhawks Defense Pairings:

Keith – Seabrook
Johnny OduyaNiklas Hjalmarsson
van Riemsdyk – Rozsival

In net, John Gibson (1-1-0, 3.50 GAA, .875 SV%) will draw the start for the Ducks. Gibson won his last start against Columbus, stopping 16 of 17 shots. Opposing Gibson will be rookie Scott Darling (1-0-0, 1.00 GAA, .970 SV%), who was impressive in his NHL debut against Ottawa. Darling only allowing a shorthanded goal to Milan Michalek while stopping 32 of 33 shots, including all 29 attempts faced at even strength or while Chicago was shorthanded.

Jason Byun is one of the editors for Pucks of a Feather. He can be found on Twitter. For more Anaheim Ducks coverage, follow Pucks of a Feather on Twitter or like us on Facebook.