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The Earth Will Shake: Blackhawks at Ducks Preview

A team having a worse season than Chicago is Saturday night’s opponent.

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Chicago Blackhawks v Anaheim Ducks Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

With their fathers watching from the crowd, the Chicago Blackhawks will be in Orange County on Saturday night to face the Anaheim Ducks.

Know that old saying, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all?” This would be an extremely short preview if that theory were applied here, because there are not many nice things to say about Anaheim this season.

All of Anaheim’s possession numbers are bad. The offense is 27th in the NHL, scoring an average of 2.71 goals per game. The defense is even worse, giving up a league-worst 4.57 goals per game. The power play is second-worst in the NHL at 10.3 percent and the penalty kill is also ranked 31st at 63.6 percent. Anaheim has a 4-9-1 record, sits in last place in the probably-bad-overall Pacific Division and trails only the Columbus Blue Jackets with a points percentage of .321 through 14 games.

Thursday night offered a perfect summary of Anaheim’s fortunes this season, because even when Trevor Zegras did something cool, it was overturned upon review:

Oh, and those orange uniforms are terrible as well, so maybe Anaheim deserves all of this.

The injury bug has not been kind to Anaheim, either, with 2020 No. 6 overall pick Jamie Drysdale out for 4-6 months with a shoulder injury and forward Derek Grant heading to injured reserve on Friday. The top scoring threats are Troy Terry (5 G, 12 A) and the aforementioned Zegras (7 G, 5 A), but that hasn’t been enough to keep the Ducks afloat because of abysmal goaltending play. Anthony Stolarz has not been good (2-1-0 record, .901 save percentage, 3.90 goals-against average) but starter John Gibson has been substantially worse: 2-8-1, .888, 4.47.

Because of all that, Anaheim was not won a game in regulation yet, winning twice in overtime and twice in the shootout. Perhaps Anaheim will be considered a high-level threat in the next update.

Of course, the Blackhawks haven’t exactly been tearing up the NHL, either, with losses in six of their last seven games including Thursday’s 2-1 loss to the Los Angeles Kings. Chicago has been especially poor during 5-on-5 play in the last four games, scoring just once in about 190 minutes of 5-on-5 ice time in those four games. Chicago’s also been outshot 155-72 and out-chanced 112-55 during that stretch, requiring stellar performances from its goaltenders just to keep the games close — which has happened, for the most part. But it’s certainly not a recipe for long-term success.

Even with the Hawks obvious long-term plans for this season, this is an opponent the Blackhawks should beat or, at a minimum, be competitive against. A 4-0 defeat to the Winnipeg Jets last Saturday is somewhat more tolerable because Winnipeg is currently leading the Central Division. A similar result against this subpar — and that’s probably generous — Anaheim side would not go down well.

Let’s go Hawks.

Tale of the tape (statistics from last season)

Blackhawks — Statistic — Ducks

45.98% (30th) — 5-on-5 Corsi For — 47.81% (22nd)

45.48% (30th) — 5-on-5 Expected goals for — 47.62% (20th)

2.60 (29th) — Goals per game — 2.78 (24th)

3.52 (26th) — Goals against per game — 3.24 (23rd)

49.6% (16th) — Faceoffs — 48.2% (23rd)

19.2% (21st) — Power play — 21.9% (14th)

76.2% (24th) — Penalty kill — 80.8% (10th)

Projected lineups (subject to change)

Blackhawks

Kurashev — Domi — P. Kane

Athanasiou — Toews — Raddysh

Entwistle — Dickinson — Lafferty

Katchouk — R. Johnson — Khaira

J. Johnson — McCabe

Tinordi — Murphy

Roos — C. Jones

Mrazek/Söderblom

Ducks

McTavish — Strome — Vatrano

Comtois — Zegras — Terry

Jones — Lundestrom — Silfverberg

White — Gawdin — Leason

Kulikov — Klingberg

Benoit — Fowlwer

Beaulieu — Shattenkirk

Gibson/Stolarz

How to watch

When: 9 p.m. CT

Where: Honda Center, Anaheim

TV: NBC Sports Chicago

Radio: WGN 720

Live stream: Sling TV