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.
|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|
|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|
How to watch Blackhawks vs. Ducks
Start time: 7:30 p.m. CT
Location: United Center, Chicago
TV: NBC Sports Chicago