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Simple Kind of Life: Blackhawks vs. Ducks Preview

A battle at the bottom as both teams remain in contention for Connor Bedard.

Chicago Blackhawks v Anaheim Ducks
MacKenzie Entwistle of the Chicago Blackhawks skates into the defense of Colton White in NHL aciton
Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

When the Chicago Blackhawks drop the puck for the first time in more than a week on Tuesday, it will be for a different kind of game. While the Blackhawks were on a (relative) hot streak going into the break, this will be a crucial game if Chicago is gonna stand a chance at winning the Connor Bedard Sweepstakes.

The Anaheim Ducks come into this game four points ahead of the Blackhawks in the standings in the Western Conference. The Ducks have played three more games than the Blackhawks, though, which leaves Chicago plenty of room to close that gap.

It’s not like the Ducks are the most talented group of players, either. While Anaheim does have Trevor Zegras and Troy Terry — both of whom have 42 points in 50 games — there’s a pretty rapid fall off to Adam Henrique, third on the Ducks with 30 points (18 G, 12 A).

Rookie Mason McTavish is doing alright, with 28 points (10 G, 18 A), but players like John Klingberg (17 points), Jakob Silfverberg (12) and Isac Lundestrom (eight), who were expected to be bigger pieces of the puzzle, aren’t delivering.

Neither is John Gibson — arguably the best goaltender from the back half of the 2010s — whose stock continues to plummet. That form from the prior decade is long gone, and in its place is a goaltender with a .898 save percentage. While that’s a better mark than half of the Blackhawks goaltenders, the Ducks aren’t as clearly tanking as Chicago is, judging by their offseason.

The Ducks are also coming into this game as the second game of a back-to-back set, losing to the Dallas Stars on Monday night. Gibson played in that game, so backup Anthony Stolarz (4-6-0, .895 SV%, 3.88 GAA) would seem to be the likely starter against the Hawks.

Chicago beat Anaheim 3-2 in the last game between these two teams back on Nov. 12. In a competition for the ultimate prize — neither of these teams are going to the playoffs — that’s not something worth repeating.

The Blackhawks won seven of their last 11 games before the break. It’s time to cool down again and get back into the Bedard race. While the Ducks remain ahead of the Blackhawks, — but again, just barely — the Blackhawks are again tied with the Blue Jackets for last place in the entire NHL — although Columbus has played three more games than Chicago.

It’s time to put in negative work and get back to what makes this season worth it. If the Blackhawks endure this amount of torment this season and come away with the fifth overall pick, was that really worth anything?

Also, a forewarning: probably best not to watch this game. It’s about to get real ugly.

Let’s go IceHogs.

Tale of the Tape

Blackhawks — Statistic — Ducks

42.26% (32nd) — Corsi For — 44.13% (31st)

40.30% (31st) — Expected goals for — 40.27% (32nd)

2.46 (31st) — Goals per game — 2.44 (32nd)

3.63 (27th) — Goals against per game — 4.06 (32nd)

55.7% (1st) — Faceoffs — 46.4% (27th)

19.4% (24th) — Power play — 15.9% (30th)

75.3% (23rd) — Penalty kill — 72.4% (30th)

How to watch

When: 7:30 p.m. CT

Where: United Center, Chicago

TV: NBC Sports Chicago

Live stream: NBC Sports app, ESPN+