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Hawks kick off busy stretch by facing Ducks

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Five games in seven days await Chicago this week

NHL: Chicago Blackhawks at Anaheim Ducks Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Does it feel like there’s been a relative lack of Chicago Blackhawks games to watch this season? Well, that’s about to change. The Blackhawks have five games coming in the next seven days, starting off with their first 2017-18 matchup with the Anaheim Ducks on Monday night.

Anaheim enters Monday’s action with a 10-9-4 record, good for sixth place in the Pacific Division. That slow start can mostly be attributed to a sputtering offense caused by a rash of injuries. Ryan Getzlaf’s been out since Halloween with an injury to his zygomatic bone (not something I made up, I swear) and the team is also missing Patrick Eaves and Ryan Kesler. Rickard Rakell just got added to the injured list and is not joining Anaheim on its current road trip. But Anaheim still has some big names in the lineup with speedy Andrew Cogliano on the second line and the easy-to-hate Corey Perry on the top line. Old friend Antoine Vermette centers the third line. On the back end, Brandon Montour has provided a spark on the power play, but is still figuring things out in 5-on-5 situations. There’s other young talent here with Josh Manson, Cam Fowler and Hampus Lindholm on the roster. And then there’s Kevin Bieksa, who is good at one-punch knockouts but few things that actually involve hockey. John Gibson is the young workhorse in net, but his numbers (2.87 GAA, .923 SA%) haven’t been as good as those from backup Ryan Miller (1.63, .950).

The Ducks are on a three-game losing streak, most recently taking a shootout loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night.

For the Blackhawks, this busy stretch of hockey comes at a time when it appears that they’re putting something together. On Saturday night, the top line of Brandon Saad-Jonathan Toews-Richard Panik scored twice, the end of a long scoring drought for that group. Patrick Kane’s warmed up to carry the second line, and the Hawks have also gotten contributions from the bottom six with Alex DeBrincat, Artem Anisimov and John Hayden. Combine that with steady defensive play and the typically stalwart goaltending from Corey Crawford (aka the Best Goalie in the Western Conference), and you have the reasons for the Hawks recent 4-1-1 stretch of play. But we’ll find out just how good this team is with the glutton of games against quality opponents on the schedule this week.

Blackhawks

Position Players
Position Players
F1 Brandan Saad - Jonathan Toews - Richard Panik
F2 Nick Schmaltz - Artem Anisimov - Patrick Kane
F3 Patrick Sharp - Ryan Hartman - Alex DeBrincat
F4 Lance Bouma - Tommy Wingels - John Hayden
D1 Duncan Keith - Cody Franson
D2 Connor Murphy - Brent Seabrook
D3 Gustav Forsling - Jan Rutta
Goaltender Anton Forsberg

Stars

Position Players
Position Players
F1 Jamie Benn-Tyler Seguin-Alexander Radulov
F2 Mattias Janmark-Jason Spezza-Devin Shore
F3 Remi Elie-Radek Faksa-Tyler Pitlick
F4 Curtis McKenzie-Gemel Smith-Brett Ritchie
D1 Esa Lindell-John Klingberg
D2 Dan Hamhuis-Greg Pateryn
D3 Jamie Oleksiak-Stephen Johns
Goaltender Ben Bishop

How to watch Blackhawks vs. Ducks

Start time: 7:30 p.m. CT

Location: United Center, Chicago

TV: NBC Sports Chicago