Tonight starts a vicious two-game weekend series as the Hawks host the best team in hockey followed by a rematch of the Stanley Cup Finals when Boston comes to town on Championship Sunday. The game was originally scheduled for 2PM, but because the Patriots are playing on Sunday NBC doesn’t want the NHL to compete with the NFL so they moved up the start time to 11:30. Regardless of Sunday’s schedule the Blackhawks have a huge task on their hands tonight in trying to slow down the engine that is the Ducks.
The Ducks have won eight in a row and 18 of their last 19. If this sounds familiar it should – the Ducks are this year’s version of the Blackhawks. The Ducks have a six-point advantage over the Hawks in the Western Conference standings and don’t show any signs of slowing down. Another tough pill to swallow is that the Blackhawks are struggling. Over the Hawks’ last ten games they’re underperforming with a record of 4-1-5. The Ducks are led by stellar Swiss G Jonas Hiller, and their top scorers on the season are Ryan Getzlaf with 55 points and Corey Perry who’s got 27 goals on the season, which would be tops were he on the Hawks. Needless to say this game will be a big test for the Hawks who have the Blues breathing down their necks for tops in the Central Division.
Sunday brings a little bit of a breather in terms of performance, but a tough game nevertheless. The Boston Bruins have a five-hundred mark over their last ten games, but this is wrapped around a three-game West Coast road trip that saw them face the best of the West and salvaging a win in their final game in San Jose. Boston’s riddled with injuries on the blue line with Dennis Seidenberg and Dougie Hamilton out, while up front they’ve lost Loui Eriksson, Chris Kelly and Carl Soderberg for extended periods of time. Despite the injuries Boston still is tops in the Atlantic Division while trailing Pittsburgh by eight points in the Eastern Conference.
Despite the injuries the Bruins will be looking to get a little revenge after their meltdown in Game 6 when they lost a spot in Game 7 in a matter of 17 seconds. Expect both of these games to be hard fought with Chicago happily taking points out of either game to help them catch up with Anaheim while simultaneously holding off St. Louis.