BLACKHAWKS (16-5-2) at DUCKS (9-11-3)
Last 10 - Blackhawks 8-1-1; Ducks 5-4-1.
Season series -- This will be the first meeting of the season between the Hawks and Ducks. Chicago took the 2008-09 season series 3-1, capping it with a 3-2 overtime win at the UnitedCenter on March 3, 2009.
Big story - Can anyone stop the Hawks? Chicago steamrolled the Sharks 7-2 in San Jose on Wednesday for its eighth win in a row. The Hawks improved to 4-0-0 on their annual "Circus Trip," which ends with games against the two Southern California teams.
Team Scope :
Blackhawks -- The only bad news for Chicago is that there's nowhere to go but down. There isn't much else to concern the Hawks. Chicago has won eight straight games, and is coming off perhaps its biggest regular season win in years after dismantling the Sharks on Wednesday night. The Hawks displayed total dominance in all facets of the game, outscoring San Jose 4-1 at even strength and tying a franchise record with three shorthanded goals.
The biggest news for Chicago was the long-anticipated debut of offseason acquisition Marian Hossa, who made as grand an entrance as he could by scoring twice. The stars are not the only ones contributing to the offense, as unheralded right wing Troy Brouwer has six points in his last six games to help the cause. With the Hawks two games away from sweeping their six-game road trip, Friday will be a mental test for a young team that could easily overlook a Ducks team currently sitting at 14th place in the conference.
-- While the season has been rough so far for the Ducks, Anaheim has shown a spark of late. The 2007 Stanley Cup winners had fallen to the bottom of the Western Conference before returning home to start a seven-game homestand last week, but the familiar setting seems to be agreeing with them. Anaheim has won three of its last four games, including a nail-biting 3-2 victory over the Hurricanes on Wednesday. With the game knotted at 1-1 in the third period, the Ducks secured the win with goals from Petteri Nokelainen and the ageless Teemu Selanne
, then allowing a last-minute goal before hanging on.
"We were patient the whole game, played our system until the end and Nokie got a big goal for us," center Ryan Getzlaf
With Anaheim sitting just six points out of the last playoff spot in the West, a run at the postseason is far from out of the question, and the Ducks seem to be gaining momentum as the season turns the quarter pole.
-- Jonathan Toews has seven points in his last five games for Chicago to complement Patrick Kane, who has 14 points in his last 11 games. In Anaheim, the Ducks have been getting production from Corey Perry
, whose 16-game points streak in the longest in the NHL this season and one shy of the franchise record held by Scott Niedermayer. Jean-Sebastien Giguere has started and won the Ducks' last two games, allowing only four goals.
-- Chicago is without Dave Bolland, who is out the next 3-4 months after back surgery. Ryan Carter
is out indefinitely for the Ducks with a broken right foot, while Joffrey Lupul
is doubtful for Friday with back spasms.
-- While the Hawks managed to show their special teams prowess by scoring three shorthanded goals against the Sharks' third-ranked power play unit, they could still be giving Anaheim an opening. The Ducks are no slouches -- their power play is ranked ninth in the League -- and the Hawks' penalty kill, which is No. 2 in the League, might be the best time to strike. Chicago has given up a power play goal in four of its last five games.
- After an emotional win at San Jose, the Hawks have to keep their focus - especially against a Ducks team that's playing well at home.