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OPPOSITION BLOGS: Battle of California, Girl With A Puck
The Hawks play an opponent tonight without being totally sure who will suit up for them. There are myriad Ducks who are involved in trade rumors -- Pronger, Pahlsson, Moen, Montador, just to name a few -- and any of them could be pulled off the ice to avoid injury. Then again, it's just as likely nothing will happen. The Hawks are in the same predicament, though, I suppose. One chip has been sent back down, and that would be Jack Skille. In his place is TIm Brent, or Martin St. Pierre II, as he looks to be:
#56 / Center / Chicago Blackhawks
Mar 10, 1984
An actual center, and with Craig Adams reportedly being waived, Brent will go right into the fire, probably between Versteeg and Buff. So we'll see.
To the game. The Hawks have beaten the Ducks in the last two games they've met, once in each arena. The Hawks will likely see Hiller in net tonight, as they have the other three encounters. The Ducks are barely hanging on to the last playoff spot by a...ducks don't have fingernails, so you tell me. They've played more games than anyone, and appear to be puttering toward the finish line. Their defense is beat up, Huskins and Beauchemin are out. Ryan Whitney has come in to bolster it, but he hasn't been all that good this season. He's an acquistion for the future.
The Ducks are still short on scoring depth. There's Getzlaf and Perry, who's size and strength give the Hawks nightmares, headaches, and heartburn. There's rookie phenom Bobby Ryan, and that's about it. The Finnished Flash Selanne is still lurking around, but he's got 6 even-strength goals this year, and frankly isn't all that dangerous any more, unless you go a man down. Even if you do, the Ducks are likely to take a penalty to cancel that out. They're second worst in PIM per game, and first in bitching about it.
The Ducks are never an easy night. But there's a reason the Hawks have overcome them three of the last four games between the two, and that's because the Ducks are slow and dumb. Getzlaf and Perry dominate every shift, but if you hold them down to one or even two goals, the Ducks d-corps has had trouble handling the Hawks speed. Probably will do again tonight.
Update: As Earl from Battle of California pointed out, 5 of Selanne's 6 ES goals have comes since he returned from slashing his own thigh with a skate. So at least be aware of him, I won't, however, be ammending the contention that the Ducks are slow and dumb.
Update: Both Dominic Moore and Nik Antropov are being held out of tonight's Leafs game. Stay tuned.