GAMETIME: 3pm Central
TV/RADIO: WGN for both
DUCK CALL: Anaheim Calling
No, I won't ever stop using Daffy references when talking about Anaheim. Deal.
When you're trying to get out of a temporary wobble, you wouldn't ask for much more than the batting practice that the Ducks are current. One win in November, two wins in their last 16 games, and just a general sucking sound making its way up I-5 in Southern California. It's hard to know where to begin with the Ducks. They don't score much, second worst in the league. They aren't terrible good at keeping their twine from being ruffled either, in the bottom half of that category as well. If Jonas Hiller is over his Vertigo, then he's got a funny way of showing it because he's been icky pants all year. Then again, he's seeing over 30 shots per game so he's not being helped by those in front of him.
Who's been disappointing? There's not much room on that boat. Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry are a combined -18. They also aren't scoring at the rate the Ducks need, i.e. a galactic one, and Getzlaf has infuriated Duck supporters by showing a huge case of "not give a shit". If you think Bryan Bickell is frustrating, imagine watching Getzlaf float around the outside when you're kicking him in the neighborhood of six very large per year. Oh, and he doesn't seem to want to admit he's bald. Bobby Ryan only has five goals, and he got hurt on Wednesday and might not play. Teemu Selanne is still doing that thing where he's scoring while getting mail from the AARP, but he's still dragging around the corpse of Saku Koivu and whatever other goofus's turn it is to join those two. Lately it's been Andrew Cogliano, who hasn't looked bad there, actually.
Past that? Well, the Ducks roster really bottoms out. There's some kids here in Smith-Pelley and others, and then a grilled hash of AHL talent and can't-identifys. The defense gets worse. Cam Fowler has a very promising future when pointed forward. When pointed toward his own net he's been akin to a bad horror movie told through the use of puppets. Toni Lydman has looked old, which he is. Lubomir Visnovsky has always been a one-way guy. And when the goalie can't bail them out, it's simply not pretty.
Here's the big stat: The Ducks have yet to win a game this season when they haven't scored first. This is a team that's screaming for an excuse to pack it in, and going down early has been a card they haven't been afraid to play to wait for the next game. Coming out with some fire and energy could reap big dividends this afternoon.
As for the Hawks, Brent Seabrook is iffy to end his "not serious" injury absence, and if he doesn't it would be his fifth straight date in the pressbox. When is an injury serious? The story out of practice was that Michael Frolik was running with Sharp and Kane, in an apparent admission that Dan Carcillo is in fact a fourth liner. Other than things will probably look the same, aside from Andrew Brunette moving up with Bolland and either Optimus Grind or Bryan Bickell (who was at least active in San Jose).
There's always a worry about playing a game against a kicked dog, as they should come out with desperation and passion. When the Ducks do that they get real physical, which isn't something the Hawks always deal with well. But the Hawks should be desperate too, having lost three in a row. They don't need the superlative defensive effort of Black Wednesday to get by this crew. Even half of it should be enough. The Ducks defense simply will not keep the Hawks at bay the way the Sharks' was able to. And score first. It's like half the battle today.
No time for pity, only time for ruthlessness. The Ducks' descent into the abyss is their problem, the Hawks have their own. They should start to look a little better today unless the Hawks go well out of their way.