Game Preview : Top Heavy

Jeff Gross

Chicago Blackhawks (51 pts 24-2-3) @ Anaheim Ducks (46 points 21-3-4) 9 pm Honda Center - Anaheim, CA. TV: CSN Chicago (NHL Network) Radio: WGN 720 AM

Season Series

Date Score W. Goal
Mar 29 '13
Mar 20 '13
Feb 12 '13 ANA 3 at CHI 2 - SO C. Perry

Tonight's match-up features the top two teams in the NHL, as far as points go. The Blackhawks will travel to Anaheim to play Rocky Wirtz's checkbook's least favorite team right now, the Ducks. The is a lot of hype surrounding this game but I highly doubt the Hawks will buy into it. They didn't lose their heads during the media blitz of "the streak", they didn't fall into the "revenge" trap on Monday so I don't see them losing focus tonight. As I write this, Marian Hossa is not participating in the team skate. Coach Q has Jamal Mayers taking rushes with the first line. There is no way in the world Jammer would jump on the top line. Right? Right? Please God someone tell me that's right!! Daniel Carcillo will make is return to the lineup so expect Patrick Kane to pretty much take every shift. Corey Crawford is going to get the start in net. Crow is 5-3-1 with a 2.13 GAA, .918 save % and one shutout in 10 career games versus the Ducks.

The Ducks are the hottest team in hockey right now. They have earned at least one point in 11 straight games and only have one regulation loss in their last 18. I still can't quite figure out why they are so good, but I don't think they are going anywhere. They are starting to runaway with the Pacific Division and are right on the Blackhawks tail for the #1 seed in the Western Conference playoffs. Much like the Hawks, they have enjoyed a very balanced scoring attack this year. Everybody's favorite Fin, Teemu Selanne has 18 points (6 G, 12 A) and is a -2, one of only three "everyday players" for the Ducks to be a minus. They are currently 4th in the league with 3.21 goals a game, just a little bit behind the Hawks average of 3.31. We will not see the newly extended Corey Perry tonight, who is still suspended for his hit on Jason Zucker of the Wild. Perry has 26 points (11 G, 15 A) in 28 games versus the Blackhawks so he will not be missed at all. Jonas Hiller will be between the pipes, who has been pretty tough on the Hawks in his career. In 14 career games, Hiller is 7-4-2 with a 2.42 GAA, a .927 save % and one shutout. If the Ducks win tonight, don't be mad at the hockey media for naming them the best team in hockey. Just remember we are down two of our best players and the being the best team in March doesn't matter, it matters at the end of June.

Probable Blackhawks lineup

Fowards

Brandon Saad - Jonathan Toews - Dan Carcillo

Jimmy Hayes - Dave Bolland - Patrick Kane

Viktor Stalberg - Andrew Shaw - Bryan Bickell

Brandon Bollig - Marcus Kruger - Michael Frolik

Defensive Pairings

Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook

Johnny Oduya - Niklas Hjalmarsson

Nick Leddy - Michal Rozsival

Goaltender

Corey Crawford 13-2-3, 1.79 GAA, .929 save %, 2 SO

Injuries

Patrick Sharp (shoulder) OUT, Marian Hossa (upper body) OUT

Leading Scorers

Player GP G A P +/- PIM PP GW
P. Kane 29 16 21 37 +15 2 7 2
J. Toews 29 14 15 29 +18 19 2 3
M. Hossa 28 13 10 23 +11 14 3 4
P. Sharp 24 5 13 18 +7 14 1 1
V. Stalberg 29 6 11 17 +13 12 0 1

Probable Ducks lineup

Fowards

Bobby Ryan - Ryan Getzlaf - Teemu Selanne
Andrew Cogliano - Saku Koivu - Daniel Winnik

Brandon McMillan - Dave Steckel - Kyle Palmieri

Defensive Pairings

Sheldon Souray - Francois Beauchemin

Cam Fowler - Bryan Allen

Luca Sbisa - Ben Lovejoy

Goaltender

Jonas Hiller 10-2-3, 2.52 GAA, .911 save %, 1 SO

Injuries

Brad Staubitz (facial laceration) OUT, Nick Bonino (flu-like symptoms) OUT

Leading Scorers

Player GP G A P +/- PIM PP GW
R. Getzlaf 28 11 22 33 +13 16 2 2
C. Perry 25 9 15 24 +14 41 5 5
S. Koivu 28 8 14 22 +11 16 4 0
B. Ryan 28 8 14 22 +4 6 1 0
A. Cogliano 28 10 8 18 +16 2 0 1

CHI
Stats
ANA
29 GP 28
24 W 21
2 L 3
3 OT 4
51 P 46
0.879 P% 0.821
3.31 G/G 3.21
2.03 GA/G 2.36
18.6 PP% 24.7
83.2 PK% 78.6
31.6 S/G 27.4
26.5 SA/G 28.6
49.8 FO% 47.3

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