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The Artist in the Ambulance: Blackhawks at Ducks Preview

Chicago kicks off a west coast road trip on Wednesday night in the OC.

Chicago Blackhawks v Anaheim Ducks Photo by Debora Robinson/NHLI via Getty Images

A pair of teams that signaled their rebuilding intentions by acting as sellers at Monday’s trade deadline will meet in Orange County on Wednesday night when the Chicago Blackhawks head to California to face the Anaheim Ducks.

These two teams met on Jan. 15 in Chicago, with the Blackhawks skating to a 3-0 victory. Each team will look different this time, though. Chicago made its well-documented trio of trades over the last week while Anaheim traded away forwards Rickard Rakell and Nicolas Deslauriers and defensemen Hampus Lindholm and Josh Manson, picking up a slew of draft picks and a few additional contracts to make all the numbers work. Lindholm was the biggest name to move, as he was No. 2 on the Ducks in terms of average ice time, and the return from the Boston Bruins was indicative of that: a 2022 first-rounder, 2023 second-rounder and 2024 second-rounder along with prospect Urho Vaakanainen.

The youth movement is on in Anaheim, spearheaded by the Ducks leading offensive duo of 24-year-old Troy Terry and 21-year-old Trevor Zegras. Terry tops Anaheim with 30 goals and 53 points, while Zegras has a team-high 30 assists and is second to Terry with 46 points. They remain the primary offensive attraction for the present and future of the Ducks. Cam Fowler checks in with a team-high average ice time of 24:16 and 34 points (7 G, 27 A) from the blue line that is best among Ducks’ defensemen. Fowler is under contract until 2026 at a cap hit of $6.5 million with a modified no-trade clause, so he may not be going anywhere despite being 30 years old. But another blue-liner to watch is Jamie Drysdale, the Ducks’ No. 6 overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft who’s appeared in 64 games this season with 26 points (3 G, 23 A) while averaging 19:51 of ice time — not bad for a kid who’ll turn 20 next month.

One of the bigger questions for Anaheim is in net, where John Gibson is having another subpar season with a 17-20-9 record, .905 save percentage and 3.09 goals-against average although he remains under contract until 2027 at a $6.5 million AAV. Those numbers are inferior to Anthony Stolarz, a 2019 free-agent signing who’s making just $950,000 but with numbers of 9-6-2, .919 and 2.66, respectively. In terms of Hockey Reference’s goals saved above average stat, Stolarz is at 6.2 and Gibson is at a minus-5.7, indicative of each’s performance this season. That’s just one of several areas where Anaheim needs to find answers over the next few seasons with the former “Little Ball of Hate” steering the ship after being hired as general manager last month.

It’s a similar rebuilding situation for the road team, although those reading this preview likely don’t need another reminder of everything encircling the Blackhawks situation at the moment. With 19 games remaining, though, there are auditions to be completed for future contracts, so this last month-or-so of the 2021-22 season is not wholly pointless for the players on the ice even if that is the case when it comes to the league standings.

After all of the trades of the last week, Chicago rounded out its roster by promoting Collin Delia to be Kevin Lankinen’s backup in net while Reese Johnson was also recalled after a brief Rockford stint following his return from a broken clavicle sustained back in December. Tyler Johnson could also be back in the lineup after clearing concussion protocol. Here’s the lineup from Tuesday’s practice:

If nothing else, this game should provide another solid look at what new acquisitions Taylor Raddysh and Boris Katchouk can offer to the team.

Late night, brakes lock, hear the tires squeal ...

Blackhawks — Statistic —Ducks

46.64% (28th) — 5-on-5 Corsi For — 48.72% (20th)

45.43% (28th) — 5-on-5 Expected goals for — 48.53% (20th)

2.60 (27th) — Goals per game — 2.80 (23rd)

3.44 (25th) — Goals against per game — 3.15 (20th)

48.6% (21st) — Faceoffs — 48.8% (19th)

20.3% (15th) — Power play — 23.5% (11th)

76.2% (24th) — Penalty kill — 81.7% (10th)

Projected lineups (subject to change)

Blackhawks

DeBrincat — Strome — Kane

Kubalik — Toews — Raddysh

Kurashev — Dach — Lafferty

Katchouk — R. Johnson — Entwistle

Stillman — S. Jones

de Haan — C. Jones

Vlasic — Gustafsson

Lankinen

Delia

Ducks

Grant — Zegras — Terry

Comtois — Henrique — Mayhew

Steel — Lundestrom — Carrick

Lettieri — O’Regan — Robinson

Fowler — Drysdale

Benoit — Sustr

Mahura — Shattenkirk

Gibson/Stolarz

How to watch

When: 9 p.m. CT

Where: Honda Center, Anaheim

TV: TNT

Webstream: N/A